Does your dog really need a companion? The reality of owning a second dog.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

You just met eyes with an adorable puppy.  Your heart is yearning; your mind is a filled with thoughts of how wonderful a second dog in the family would be.  How perfect it would be.

I don’t want to be Debbie Downer but before you bring home another dog, I need you to remove the emotion from your decision and think about these questions.

What’s your goal for bringing in another dog?

Because you want more? You feel guilty about leaving your dog alone? Or because you think your dog is lonely and needs a friend? Self-imposed guilt is not a reason for getting another dog. Also, hiring one non-human animal to babysit another non-human animal is not always the smartest plan.  Doggy daycare, pet-sitters, dog walkers and arranging play-dates with other dog friends or human friends are reasonable options for creating a more fulfilling, and less isolated, life for your dog.

If your main reason for wanting another dog is that you need a dog fix, how about volunteering at a local shelter or rescue? You can get your fill of dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. This way, you can meet your wants, while at the same time not having to deal with the extra responsibilities and expenses.

Is your dog where you want them to be?

I’m not talking about a location, rather how well-mannered your dog is.  A second dog doesn’t improve behavioral issues such as separation anxiety or aggression…training does.   When a dog is introduced to another dog that also doesn’t know boundaries or good communication skills, both tend to revert back to dog behavior.  You need to have the respect of both dogs otherwise your setting yourself up for some frustrating times.

Having your current dog reliable at obedience or at least at a point where you’re not constantly correcting them for their behavior allows you to concentrate on any problems which may arise with the second dog.

Are you realistic in your expectations?

This is a big one.  Do you really think that your dogs will play together perfectly all the time, share toys, and live in harmony?  Not without some work on your part.  Depending the age difference and energy levels of the dogs, you will be facing times when one may pester the other dog or become jealous.  If you’re not seen as a leader of your pack, one dog will take on this role and “fur may roll”.

Paws for reflection

Before you add another dog to your family, determine your reasons for wanting one, then decide if it’s the best choice for all involved (including the dogs and your family). Then, figure out what you’re going to want from your dogs, and what steps you’re willing to take to help establish a meaningful and loving bond between the two of them.

Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to creating a relationship, it’s important to allow those involved to have at least some, if not all, of the say.  Oftentimes, the one animal who’ll be spending the most time with the new resident should have the last word…or in this case, last bark.

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