You’ve imagined this scenario in your head a million times: You bring home a “sibling” pup for your dog, they bond instantly, your family is complete, and you’ve got Instagram-worthy cuddle sessions for days.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on just a minute there, pal.
Before you dive headfirst into round two of pet-parenting, it’s time to get serious about what you’re really getting into.
Welcoming a second dog into your already-established pack can be an enticing—and successful!—endeavor, but it’s not a decision that should be made lightly.
And while any one of us could gush over all the ways our canine pals have enriched our lives, there are certainly times when adding a second dog to the mix is not the way to go.
Three bad reasons to get a second dog
- Your family wants one—Does your partner insist that getting a second dog would be a swell idea? Are you just tired of continually shutting down your kids’ incessant pleas for another pet? The truth is, adding a second dog to your brood is a significant life decision. One that everyone needs to be on the same page about. If you’re less than enthused about doubling up on the hair that accumulates on your sofa, a second dog is not the answer—no matter how persuasive your eager family members may be.
- Your first dog has separation anxiety—Getting a second dog might seem like an easy way to relieve a pet who suffers from separation anxiety. But according to the American Kennel Club, this is a bad idea. They explain that sometimes an anxious dog will transfer his anxiety to a companion dog, which is exactly the opposite of what you want.
- You’re trying to curb your first dog’s aggression—If you’re having trouble socializing your current dog, bringing a second dog into your home is not the solution. Deal with your pet’s behavioral issues first.
Maybe getting a second dog is right for you. Maybe it’s the worst idea ever. It’s impossible to predict how everything in life will pan out. You can, however, save yourself some major heartache down the line by considering the following realities of having a second dog very carefully.
1. You’ll spend more money
Dogs cost money. They come with vet bills, sitter fees, grooming costs, obedience school costs, and food costs. Plus you’ll need to purchase a second collar, a leash, extra food bowls, another bed, and a second crate.
If the thought of doubling up on those expenses makes you break into a cold sweat—perhaps, a second dog isn’t in your future.
2. How will your first dog respond?
We know you’re gung-ho about bringing home a second dog, but how will your resident canine feel about the new arrangement?
Your dog is a member of your family, right? So you really need to consider how a new dog will affect his quality of life.
Does your dog enjoy the company of other dogs, or does he generally prefer to be alone? What are his interactions with other dogs like?
It’s equally wise to consider how well your dog copes with change. He might already be comfortable with the way things are, and he might not appreciate his routine or sleeping/eating area being messed with.
If you’re looking to adopt a puppy, ask yourself if your dog can handle the extra chaos. Older dogs aren’t usually pleased to share living space with a rambunctious pup.
Every scenario is different, of course. And you know your dog better than anyone. So think things through from his point of view.
3. Do you have the time?
Take a long, hard look at your schedule, and be honest with yourself—how much time do you really have to train, love, and assimilate a new dog into the mix?
Contrary to popular belief, a second dog will not “free up your time.” Sure, your dog will have a companion to blow off steam with, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be out of your hair. You’ll just have double the energy and double the canine shenanigans.
One more time-related question to ask yourself: do you have any major life events or significant changes coming up? We’re talking about things like a new job with a new schedule, a new baby, a move, or a project that’s going to eat into your time.
If you answered “yes” to this question, table the second dog conversation, at least temporarily, until things settle down.
4. Are you in for the long haul?
Getting a pet is a major commitment, and not one that you can shirk after the thrill wears off and the extra chores continue to pile up.
You may be in a position right now to responsibly get a second pet, but think about where your life may be in two, five, even ten years out. Will you be getting married, having children, moving across the country?
These major life events can certainly happen around a dog, but the extra stress could be more than you bargained for.
Are you willing to provide the best life your dogs deserve, even when life throws changes your way?
5. How much room do you have?
Can your home accommodate a second dog, or are things feeling cramped already? How about your yard? Is your bed already maxed out, or can you fit another cuddly pup in there?
Consider the activity levels of your current pet and the one you’re itching to adopt. Will they have adequate space to run and play? Don’t forget—there will be two dogs tearing through the yard. Can your lawn handle it?
6. Double the dogs, double the fur (and other messes!)
Dogs aren’t exactly the tidiest of animals. Pet owners need to contend with potty accidents, muddy paw prints, and poop that needs perpetual scooping. Plus, dogs have a bad habit of damaging things like furniture and clothing, even when they’re playing.
How much of a neat freak are you? If you’re unnerved by the mess made by one dog, imagine the damage two could do!
7. Do you have what it takes to train another dog?
Remember training dog #1? It was always fun and never frustrating, right?
Yeah. We didn’t think so.
Anyone who’s ever trained an animal can recall the amount of work it entails. Training a puppy requires commitment, time, and energy. It’s certainly not a job for the faint of heart.
So be honest and ask yourself—do you have it in you?
8. What are the noise ordinances in your house?
One barky dog is tough to handle. Two barky dogs? Headache city.
If you’re bothered by your current dog’s barking habits, it would probably be best to deal with that situation before getting a second dog. There are several strategies you can employ to discourage your dog’s barking.
9. Traveling gets tricky
Got any vacations lined up?
Adding a second dog to the family makes traveling (and everything else) much more complicated.
You’ll need to find a sitter who’s willing to take two dogs, and you’ll have to pay the additional fees.
Even if you plan on having the dogs join you on vacation, it will be more of a challenge with two of them. Road trips can become a crowded situation, especially with bigger dogs who take up a lot of space.
There’s one thing, I think, we can all agree on—you just can’t beat dog love. But you still need to be responsible when bringing a new dog into your household. Line up your pros and cons, and see which side wins. Maybe now is the perfect time for dog #2. Or maybe it would be better to wait a year before getting a second dog.
If you do find it’s the right time to bring home a second dog, prepare for double the love.