For the first part, we will look at the question of whether or not you should get a second dog. It all starts with the dog you already have. Many people look to get a second dog to fix problems with their current pet.
“He’s bored, (meaning he can’t be left alone without destroying the house), or “she’s lonely,” (meaning she howls all day when left alone). “He needs a playmate,” (meaning I don’t have time to exercise him appropriately).
My advice is to fix the dog you have before you add another! The new dog will probably just learn bad habits from your current dog, and then you have two unruly dogs to manage. Some advice from a qualified trainer, or even a few training classes, may be a simpler solution than getting another dog.
Contacting a good trainer is a great place to start if you do decide adding another dog is a good choice for you, your family, and your current dog. They can help you find the best match and show you the best way to introduce your new friend into your household.
But there are still many factors to think about. I’ve narrowed down three main areas as you consider adding a second dog to your family.
The first is Age. If your dog is still a puppy — less than a year old — adding another dog will be much easier. He will be more accepting of another puppy or even an older dog. If your current dog is young and playful, one that has similar energy will work well. Adult dogs require more careful consideration when choosing a new friend for them. Two adults will have more conflicts, especially if they are the same gender. Good training is especially important for managing conflict between dogs.
The second thing to consider is Play Style. Some dogs like to play rough and wrestle, some prefer to chase or be chased, and others would rather play with toys. Older dogs might not want to play at all. What is your dog’s preferred play style? Will it be compatible with a new dog?
The third point to consider when choosing another dog is Gender. Again, this isn’t as big of an issue if your dog is young; however, introducing dogs of opposite gender is generally easier than those of the same gender. Females tend to be more territorial inside the home, while males are more territorial away from their home. But don’t think conflict won’t happen even if all factors are perfect! Just like you and your spouse or roommate occasionally argue, conflict between dogs is normal!
Good training for both dogs is the best way to prevent and manage conflict between dogs. Be honest with yourself as you consider this decision. Having two dogs is generally three times the work of having one.
They will require separate training time, bonding time, and socialization time.
Do you have the time and energy to fully meet all the needs of both dogs? If you’re not ready, take steps to get there.