Adoption & Fostering

Should You Get a Second Dog? 9 Things to Consider

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 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.

dogs puppies friends

So, in this article, we’ll explore 9 essential factors to help you determine if you’re ready to welcome another furry friend into your home. From financial considerations to your current dog’s personality, we’ll cover all the bases to ensure you make the best choice for your unique situation.

Let’s dive in.

3 Bad Reasons to Get a Second Dog

Before we get into what you should consider, let’s talk about a few bad reasons to bring home another pup:

1. Your Family Wants One

Does your partner insist that getting a second dog would be a swell idea? Are you tired of shutting down your kids’ incessant pleas for another pet? The truth is that adding a second dog is a significant life decision that everyone needs to be on the same page about. If you’re less than enthused about doubling the hair on your sofa, a second dog is not the answer.

two people holding short coated tan dog 1

2. Your First Dog Has Separation Anxiety

It might seem like an easy fix to get an anxious dog a companion, but the American Kennel Club warns this is a bad idea. An anxious dog may transfer his anxiety to the new dog, which is the opposite of what you want. 

3. You’re Trying to Curb Your Dog’s Aggression

If you’re having trouble socializing your current pup, bringing a second dog home is not the solution. Deal with the existing behavioral issues first.

Maybe getting a second dog is right for you; maybe it’s the worst idea ever. It’s impossible to foresee exactly how it will pan out, but you can save yourself some major heartache by carefully considering these 9 realities of having a second dog:

1. You’ll Spend More Money 

Let’s talk cold, hard cash. Dogs come with expenses like vet bills, food, grooming, sitters, and obedience classes. Plus, you’ll need to double up on supplies like toys, collars, leashes, bowls, beds, and crates.

If the thought of doubling those costs makes you sweat, a second dog probably isn’t in your future right now.

people adult woman lifestyle dog

2. Do You Have the Time? 

Take a long, hard look at your schedule. How much time do you really have to train, love, and assimilate a new dog? Despite what some people think, getting a second dog won’t “free up your time.” Sure, they’ll have each other to play 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 to deal with!

Another time-related question: Do you have any major life changes coming up, like a new job, baby, or move? If so, it’s best to table the second dog idea until life settles down. 

girl plays with dogs

3. How Will Your First Dog Respond?

We know you’re gung-ho about a new addition, but how will your resident pup feel about the arrangement? Your dog is family, so you need to consider how a new dog will affect his quality of life. 

Does your dog enjoy the company of other canines or prefer going solo? How does he interact with other pooches? You also need to think about how well he handles change. He may be perfectly happy with the current routine and not appreciate it being messed with.

If you want to adopt a puppy, ask yourself if your older dog can handle the extra chaos. Senior pups aren’t usually thrilled about sharing space with a rambunctious youngster. You know your dog best, so think it through from his perspective.

dog golden pet animal

4. Are You in It for the Long Haul?

Getting a pet is a major commitment, not something you can forget when the novelty wears off and the chores pile up. You may be in a good position to get a second dog now, but think about where your life may be in 2, 5, or even 10 years. Will you be getting married, having kids, moving across the country? 

These life events can certainly happen with a dog (or two), but the added stress could be more than you bargained for. Are you willing to provide the best life for your pups, even when big changes come your way?

dog puppy cub shih poo cute

5. How Much Space Do You Have? 

Can your home accommodate another dog, or is it feeling cramped already? How about your yard – is your bed maxed out, or can you fit another furry friend? 

Consider the activity levels of your current dog and the one you want to adopt. Will they have enough room to run and play? Remember, there will be two dogs tearing through the yard. Can your lawn handle the extra wear and tear?

woman sitting on her couch with her dogs

6. Double the Dogs, Double the Mess

Let’s be real: dogs aren’t the tidiest creatures. Pet owners contend with potty accidents, muddy paw prints, and poops that need perpetual scooping. Dogs also have a knack for damaging things like furniture and clothes, even when playing. 

How much of a neat freak are you? If the mess from one dog unnerves you, imagine what two could do! It’s something to keep in mind.

7. Do You Have What It Takes to Train Another Dog?

Remember training dog #1? All fun and never frustrating, right? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Anyone who’s trained an animal knows how much work it is. Training a puppy requires commitment, time, and energy. It’s not for the faint of heart. 

So be honest with yourself – do you have it in you to go through that process again? If not, you may want to hold off for now.

train the dog

8. What are the Noise Ordinances in Your Home? 

One barky dog can be tough to handle. Two barky dogs? Hello, headache city. If your current pup’s barking habits bother you, it’s best to address that before bringing home a second dog. There are strategies you can use to discourage excessive barking.

9. Traveling Gets Tricky

Do you have any vacations planned? Adding another dog to the mix makes traveling (and everything else) much more complicated. You’ll need to find a sitter willing to take two pups and pay extra fees. Even if you bring the dogs with you, it’ll be more challenging, especially with bigger dogs that take up a lot of space. Road trips can get crowded fast! 

Still, thinking a second dog is right for you? Here are some tips to set yourself up for success:

Preparing for and Introducing a Second Dog

two brown dogs

1. Assess Your First Dog’s Friendliness 

If you’re not sure how outgoing your pup is, find a friend with a friendly dog and arrange a meeting in a safely fenced, neutral spot. If they hit it off, great! You can keep exploring adding a second dog. But if your pup seems standoffish or aggressive, you may want to reconsider. 

That said, if you’re set on adopting a second dog despite your first not being super friendly, a trainer or behaviorist may be able to help your original dog warm up to the idea. It’s not impossible, but it will take extra work.

dogs puppies to play

2. Choose the Right Second Dog

First, think about your current dog’s personality. If he’s very assertive, adding another dominant dog could spell disaster. Look for a pup who will defer to your “top dog.” On the flip side, if your first dog is timid, getting a more dominant second dog is okay, but be prepared to see your first pup get pushed around a bit. 

Size also matters. If you have a tiny 3-pound pup, there are inherent risks in adopting a large breed dog. Even in play, bigger dogs might unintentionally cause serious, sometimes fatal injuries to miniature breeds. It’s not impossible to have very different sizes in one household, but you’ll need to supervise very closely.

Finally, factor in the new dog’s grooming needs and energy level. If your current pup needs daily brushing, a short-haired, low-maintenance breed may be a better choice. But if you don’t mind the extra primp time, a second high-maintenance dog could work. 

When it comes to energy, if your Border Collie mix has boundless energy, adding another active dog to the mix could help tire her out. Or you may end up with a furry tornado zipping around your house 24/7. It’s a balance!

go for a dog walk

3. Establish Rules for Success

Baby gates and tethers can be your best friends when you have a new multi-dog household. When the pups are still getting to know each other, keep them separated if you’re not home to supervise. 

Feed the dogs far apart, ideally in separate rooms or crates, to avoid food-bowl confrontations. Make sure there are sufficient toys for all to go around and ample beds in low-traffic areas so each pup has a safe space to relax.

The more dogs you have, the more crucial training becomes. You might survive one ill-mannered pup, but two or more poorly behaved dogs will make everyone miserable. Your calm but firm leadership helps maintain peace in the pack. Bonus: training is a great bonding experience for you and your pups!

the girl and the dog are playing

How to Introduce a New Puppy to Your Older Dog

When it’s time for your dogs to meet, set the stage for success with these simple steps:

1. Choose a Neutral Location 

Opt for a safely fenced area that’s new to both dogs, like a friend’s yard or a quiet park. This prevents territorial behavior and sets a positive tone for the introduction.

2. Enlist a helper

Have a friend hold one leashed dog on the far side of the space while you enter with the other pup. This allows the dogs to see each other at a distance without feeling threatened.

3. Observe Body Language

As the dogs notice each other, watch their reactions closely. They may become alert and slightly tense, which is normal. Playful or relaxed body language, like wagging tails, is a great sign. However, if either dog shows aggressive behavior like lunging, excessive barking, snarling, or snapping, end the interaction immediately and consult a professional trainer.

two schnauzer playing on grass

4. Reward Calm Behavior

When the dogs see each other, give them both treats to create a positive association. Continue treating them as long as they remain focused on you and relax. Gradually decrease the frequency of treats as the dogs start to glance at each other calmly, rewarding them for friendly interactions.

boxer dogs dogs good aiderbichl

5. Allow Off-leash Greetings

If both pups appear happy and at ease, drop their leashes (while still at a distance) and let them approach each other. Keeping the leashes on initially allows you to quickly separate the dogs if needed. Leash tension can sometimes trigger defensive behavior, even in typically friendly dogs. Once you’re confident they’re getting along, remove the leashes completely to prevent tangling and play-related mishaps.

the girl hugged the dog

6. Reintroduce at Home

When you bring your new dog home, start with another introduction session in your securely fenced yard. Let the pups play and get acquainted outdoors before bringing them inside. This helps burn off excess energy and minimizes stress in the home environment.

Final Words

Deciding to add a second dog to your family is an intensely personal choice that involves many considerations. Only you can decide if doubling your doggie brood is the right move for you, your family, and your current pup. 

There’s no denying that caring for multiple dogs is a lot of work. But if you’ve carefully considered the financial, logistical, and emotional aspects and feel ready to grow your pack, go for it! There’s nothing quite like the love and companionship our canine pals bring to our lives. 

woman holding paw of dog 1

Just remember, adopting any pet is a major commitment, one that will impact your life and daily routine for many years to come. So be honest with yourself about what you’re willing and able to handle.  

If the time is right, prepare for your heart to double in size. Because let’s be real – is there anything better than being on the receiving end of sloppy kisses and happy tail wags from not just one but TWO adorable pups? We think not!

author-avatar

About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.