Dogs, like babies, are rather addicting–especially when you have an easy one.  How, you might ask, will I know when it’s the right time to get a second dog?

The most popular reasons to get a second dog are as follows:

  1. We want our dog to have a companion
  2. Our first dog is so easy, having another won’t be much different
  3. Our first dog is “finished” training so let’s get a new project
  4. I just “happened” to be at a shelter/pet store and I fell in love with another dog
  5. One of our dogs just passed away, so we want to get a second dog again to help everyone get past the grief of death
  6. Our first dog is bad, so we want to get a canine role model for him

If you are seriously considering getting another dog and your motives are any of the above, please think LONG and hard about this decision. Let me counter these thoughts:

  1. We want our dog to have a companion. Dogs do enjoy companions because they are pack animals, but not just any dog you pick out will necessarily be a good match for your first dog. Look at the energy of the dog before considering the shell/breed of a second dog. Critically evaluate your first dog. What is their overall energy level? Are they more fearful or more dominant? Are they more/less comfortable around dogs of a different size than they are? What kind of canine mind will best compliment your family and current dog?
  2. Our first dog is so easy, having another won’t be much different. Nearly everyone who gets a second dog because their first is easy will have a difficult lesson to learn. The second dog will add a whole new layer of responsibility even if you choose a very calm, submissive second dog. Know that it will be harder to have two, no matter what you may think about your skills as a pack leader.
  3. Our first dog is “finished” training so let’s get a new project. There’s nothing wrong with wanting something new to train, just make sure everyone in the family knows in advance what that will mean for them individually. Even if you want something to train, do NOT pick a dog that “needs work”. You will be much more satisfied if you can pick a dog that is already close to being done and you can just refine his training and feel great about having two very well-behaved dogs!
  4. I just “happened” to be at a shelter/pet store and I fell in love with another dog. When picking out a second dog use your head, not your heart. What I mean is, do not allow your emotions to talk you into making a decision that you will later regret. When we went to visit Princeton in the shelter, there was another family on its way to see him too. The shelter was located over an hour away from our house and so instead of being patient and making a slow, calculated decision based on Princeton’s fearfulness and nervous energy, we left the shelter with dog in tow. This also applies when you are in a pet store and you see a puppy available for purchase. Please note that many pet stores that sell puppies are often supporting the puppy mill industry giving you drugged dogs with many, many health concerns. You can read more about puppy mills here. If you’re not ready to adopt a second dog, stay off petfinder.com and do not enter a shelter!
  5. One of our dogs just passed away, so we want to get a second dog again to help everyone get past the grief of death. Dogs do know when a pack member has passed away. It is natural, normal, and healthy to grieve the loss. It is very dangerous to try to cover up the pain by getting a “replacement” dog. It’s not fair to your pack or, especially, the new dog. Wait several weeks if not months, and critically evaluate the state of mind of everyone in the household. Is everyone ready for a new adventure to begin without living in the past?
  6. Our first dog is bad, so we want to get a canine role model for him. Of all of the above reasons for getting a second dog, this is the most dangerous. Dogs that are un-trained and exhibit poor behavior are almost always dominant. If you bring in a second dog even if it’s super calm, submissive, it will NOT teach your dog manners–it’ll be the other way around! Your good dog will pick up on the behavior of the bad one and suddenly you’ll have TWO out of control dogs. It is much more advisable for you to consult a trainer and get your first dog behaving as you’ve always dreamed
Having a second dog can be a wonderful addition to the family. Adopting Princeton has been incredibly hard at times, but he has also helped shaped me into a better human being, pack leader, and trainer.  Looking back, I would have made a different decision by not adopting a dog that was so needy and fearful, but would have waited to find one that was calm and submissive. It is my hope that by really thinking the decision through, you will end up with the dogs of your dreams!
To read my thoughts about adopting a puppy vs. a adult dog click here.
To read my thoughts about adopting from a breeder vs. a shelter click here.
Lead your dog!
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