Two dogs, twice as much fun?
Do you already have a dog and are you considering getting a second one? In this article, Debby and I want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of multiple dogs within a family, and what you should pay attention to if you want to include a second (or third, or fourth 😊) dog in your family.
The first important consideration when thinking about a second dog is to consider who you actually want to do this for. Is it for yourself or the other human members of your family, or is it for your dog? Perhaps for both?
When you want to take a new dog into your family, it is important that it is fun for all family members. If you want a second dog, but your partner does not, for example, then it is of course advisable to ensure that you first get together on 1 line.
This also applies to the animals already present in your family. For example, if you have a very playful dog, it will probably be happy with a permanent playmate in the house. But if you have a dog that is very fond of its hair / rest, that prefers to doze all day long, and you want to adopt a very active dog, then you may wonder whether that will be a good match for these dogs .
What can you pay attention to when you consider adopting a second dog
- What is it energy level of your current dog. If you want to take a second dog, it is best for both dogs when they match in this. When one dog wants to play all the time and the other dog doesn’t, there can be a lot of mutual frustration.
- It’s also important the reason why you this second dog wants to record for yourself to get clear. Are you doing it to give the second dog a good home, do you want a playmate for your first dog, do you want to prevent your first dog from feeling alone, do you want to solve certain behavioral issues of this first dog in this way? Not all reasons are a good reason to eventually opt for a second dog.
- To give an example of this: Do you perhaps have a dog that struggles to be alone and do you want to solve this by getting a second dog? Then remember that for some dogs this can be a good solution (for example, dogs that have always lived together with several dogs may have difficulty being alone for that reason). But there is also a chance that your second dog will take over the separation anxiety from your first dog and you will then be left with two dogs that cannot be without you…).
- Fit the dogs physically together. Do they have the same way of playing? Are they about the same size and strength?
- Is it physical for you to do? Walking two dogs often requires more of you than one dog. Realize that the walks with your dog will look different. If you are used to giving your dog a lot of choice during walks, for example, with two dogs, this often requires some compromise. Loose walks with two dogs are often very pleasant, on a leash it is sometimes just a bit more complicated than with 1 dog.
- Do you have enough time. What if the dogs cannot always be walked together for certain reasons? Can you give both dogs enough time for attention?
- Play certain behavioral issues with your dog that you better tackle before you consider adding a second dog?
- Does it fit in your home. Is there enough room for the dogs to interact with each other? What is also very important: is there enough space for the dogs to retreat once in a while if they need it.
- Also think about the cost. A second dog doubles vet costs, double feed, and so on.
- Is it now the right time to get a second dog? For example, if you just got a puppy, it is usually advisable to get to know it first and to build a bond with it before you take another puppy. It is also often better not to take two puppies at the same time for the independence of your puppy. The same goes for adopted dogs. It is important to first visualize what your first dog needs and how you can take care of this, before you consider taking in a second dog (which also has its own specific needs).
- Also consider whether you have the best one male or female you can take. What does your dog respond best to? You can also imagine that an intact male and an intact female in one house will ask for extra management at every heat if you don’t want a litter. Or you have to choose to have at least one of the two neutered or spayed and that also entails considerable costs these days.
Photo above: Bowie (left) and Eefje, brother and sister reunited.
A good match
When you have two well-matched dogs, this can be an enormous enrichment in the lives of both dogs.
- A family member who speaks the same language, with whom you can do things together, who you can lie against, etc., is a real asset for many dogs.
- Anxious dogs can often develop better with the support of another dog than when they have to do everything alone (read without another dog).
- Playful dogs often become less frustrated when there is (almost) always someone who wants to ‘chain’ along too.
- Also for you as a dog owner, having several dogs can really be an enrichment. Seeing your two dogs enjoying themselves together and seeing them pull up to each other is wonderful.
- If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, a second dog can really be a huge asset.
Two dogs now live in Debby’s family (from Doggo.nl). Below she talks about her personal experiences.
Eve and Bowie
For years I dreamed of having two dogs. With my previous dog Cinnamon that was unfortunately not an option. Cinnamon loved people, but not other dogs at all! The risk that it would not turn out well was too great. After Cinnamon, Eefje came into my life: a Spanish girl of almost 6 months old. She fit very well into our family with two children and also two cats. But after a while I saw that she was missing a playmate. She often tried to play with the cats, but they didn’t understand her crazy play arc and her playful antics.
On Facebook I saw the message that Eefje’s brother was still looking for a nice home. He would be a perfect match for her! The decision was made within a day and Eefje’s brother came to live with us. The reunion was so beautiful, they recognized each other immediately and were so happy to see each other again! They have been a unit from day one. They support each other, they play great fun together and often lie against each other on the couch. They are an enormous enrichment for each other. It is wonderful to see their interaction, how they communicate with each other and always visit each other. As good as my bond with them is, their bond is unique. Digging together, running together, ‘pelting’ together while playing. As a human being I can’t compensate for that.
So Eefje was alone with us for the first 2 months and I really like that afterwards. We were able to guide Eefje very well and get to know her as a person. After two months she was well settled and quite stable. After that we had all the attention for Bowie.
As Sylvia described above: a good match is essential! Eefje and Bowie are the same age, they come from the same litter. Their play needs and play style are the same. What is different is their strength and motor skills. Bowie is a lot stronger, bigger and crazier. We sometimes call them here at home with a wink the elephant and the deer. While playing you sometimes see that Eefje takes a break when Bowie is a bit too rude. She indicates very well when to put the brakes on.
Many points have already been mentioned above, but I would like to mention these 3:
Sylvia mentioned it before: dogs are very good with each other influence behaviour. In a positive, but also in a negative sense. Eefje is a brave dog. Bowie looks tough, but is quite insecure. He already takes his sister as an example during walks and is therefore more daring. He is greatly supported by her. Beautiful to see! But it also goes the other way. For example, Bowie barks at passers-by as soon as he sees them pass by our house. Eefje did not do that before, but has adopted this behavior from Bowie.
Walking with 2 dogs is really getting used to in the beginning: lines that become entwined and also the pace, which can be different for both dogs. One sniffs every blade of grass and the other wants to quickly go to the playing field. But you also get used to this and after a while you find skill in it.
We used to always go with the whole family with the car on holiday. Everything fit perfectly: two adults, two children, one dog and the luggage of course. But now we have a problem! It’s not going to fit anymore, so we have to come up with a solution. Bigger car? Trailer? It will probably work out, but this is something we had NOT thought about. 😉
Do you have a social dog that likes to interact with other dogs? Then a second dog can certainly be an enormous enrichment. It is also a beautiful spectacle for you to see how they interact with each other and how much fun they can get from each other. Especially if you’re interested in dog behavior, you’re going to see other aspects of the behavior; jealousy, limiting each other, helping each other, learning from each other and the affection they show each other.
This article was written by Sylvia Aerts, qualified behavioral expert at Online dog school Wel Fair. Debby van Dongen added her experiences.