Understanding The Pros & Cons of Getting a Second Dog

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pros and cons getting second dog

Owning a dog is one of life’s greatest joys — so having two dogs should be twice as good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple. While adding another dog to your pack can be extremely rewarding, there are quite a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of getting a second dog, so you can make an informed decision — rather than one you’ll end up regretting.

Pro: Your Dog Will Have a Friend

Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and that’s especially true for pooches that are left home alone all day. Bringing a second dog home will give him someone to share his day with, so he’s less likely to spend his time destroying your stuff.

And let’s face it, while your dog worships you, he interacts differently with animals of his own species. They have their own language and style of play that you can’t comprehend, so giving him a constant playmate can do wonders for his mental health.

Con: Training Will Be Twice as Hard

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If your current dog is well-behaved, bringing in an unruly puppy could potentially derail some of the training advancements you’ve made. He won’t understand why it’s ok for the new dog to pee in the house or chew on your shoes while he can’t, and you may find yourself needing to give him a remedial class in manners.

Once you do start training them, you’ll find that teaching two pupils is a lot harder than just dealing with one. It can be difficult to give instruction to just one dog while the other is present, and they can easily distract one another.

Plus, as anyone who’s ever been the smartest kid in class can attest, it can be frustrating to watch the teacher struggle to teach the new kid everything he needs to know when you already know it.

Pro: A Second Dog Can Make Exercise Time Easier

There are many popular breeds that need a ton of exercise — and most of the time, their owners don’t give them nearly enough. A second dog can take some of that responsibility off of your plate.

If you have a backyard or access to a park, letting your two dogs chase each other around for thirty minutes or so will burn more energy than anything you could do with them — and all you have to do is sit and watch.

Likewise, you can let your pups play tug-of-war with a rope or wrestle with a stuffed animal, and the vigorous play will quickly tucker them out. However, only do that if they can play nicely with toys, which brings us to…

Con: There’s a Risk of Aggression

Imagine if, when you were in middle school, your parents brought home another kid the same age and told you, “Surprise! He’s going to be living with us now. We know you’ll get along because you’re both the same age.”

Not quite that simple, is it? Nevertheless, that’s exactly what you’re doing to your dog when you bring home a new pup — and there’s absolutely no guarantee the two will enjoy each other’s company.

If either one has aggression issues like resource guarding, you could find yourself needing to regularly break up dog fights — and those can be dangerous for both you and your dogs. These issues take a lot of training to overcome, and the success rate isn’t 100%, so you could ultimately find yourself needing to rehome a dog you’ve already grown attached to.

Some breeds — like Malamutes, Pit Bulls, and Fox Terriers — are known to have issues tolerating other dogs, so if you have such a breed, you may be better off keeping him an only child. Also, the risk of aggression is generally lower if the dogs are of different sex, so keep that in mind before bringing the second pup home.

Pro: Socialization is Easier

Dogs that are only children tend to have difficulties socializing unless you’re constantly exposing them to new situations. Adding a second dog goes a long way towards teaching both animals how to get along well with others.

This is especially true if you bring a puppy home to meet your older dog. The older dog naturally knows how to teach certain manners, like bite inhibition, that you may struggle with teaching on your own.

Having a big brother or sister around will teach the puppy that other dogs can be fun rather than threats. This cuts down the risk of aggression and makes social outings a whole lot easier.

Con: Twice the Dogs, Twice the Mess

If you thought your dog could make the biggest mess in the world, just wait until he gets a partner in crime. They can destroy your furniture and dig holes all over your yard faster than you ever thought possible.

If both dogs are heavy shedders, you’ll soon have enough fur on your couch and clothes to build a third dog. Also, scientists aren’t sure how this works yet, but adding a second dog means you’ll have to pick up at least five times as much poop. Does it make sense? No. Is it true? Absolutely, yes.

Pro: Even More Unconditional Love

Having a second dog means you’ll have another family member around who absolutely adores you. It’s a second tail that wags when you come home, a second set of ears that demand pettings, and a second tongue sneaking kisses every time you let your guard down. That kind of unconditional love is hard to find, and you’ll soon find it’s quite addictive.

Also, there’s nothing like being at the bottom of a literal dogpile. The downside is you’ll have one less reason to consider snuggling with your spouse or kids, as they just can’t compete.

Con: A Second Dog is More Expensive

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You’ll have to buy more food, bring home more toys, and take out more loans to pay for the vet bills if you have a second dog. Think about everything you buy for your dog now — kibble, medicine, treats — and double it if you get another pooch.

That adds up quickly, and many people don’t consider the extra expense until it’s too late. This is a serious investment you’ll be making — one that will likely last for 10+ years — so don’t make the decision lightly.

Of course, you’re not likely to complain about spending all that money once you fall in love with your dog, but you may find yourself needing to tighten your belt in other areas to compensate.

Pro: Save Two Lives

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If you adopt from a shelter, bringing home a second dog means saving one more sweet dog from an untimely end. It lets you give that pup a spoiled, pampered life, rather than having to deal with being cooped up in a cell or scavenging on the street somewhere.

Also, owning a dog has been shown to extend owners’ lifespans as well, especially if they’re prone to heart disease, so maybe you’ll end up saving three lives…

Con: You’ll Have to Say Goodbye Twice

Nobody likes to think about it, but there will come a day when your dog has to leave you behind. It can be absolutely devastating — and adding a second dog to your family means you’ll also be adding a second goodbye down the road.

That’s a small price to pay for the love, fulfillment, and companionship that these sweet animals provide, but it is a price that has to be paid.

Nobody said love was easy, though.

Are You Ready for a Second Dog?

The pros and cons above should give you a place to start when you’re considering expanding your pack. We can’t say whether it’s a smart idea for you or not, but we will say that it’s not a decision you should make lightly.

Too many people bring home a second pet based on an emotional, spur-of-the-moment decision, such as seeing a cute face in a pet store or watching that Sarah McLachlan commercial late at night. Then, once the realities of owning another dog fully sink in, they start to regret their impulsiveness — and many times, it’s the dogs who suffer the most.

As long as you go into it with your eyes wide open, though, you’re unlikely to regret either decision. You’ll love that second dog if you get him, but if you don’t, you won’t know what you’re missing. Just focus on what’s best for you and your family.

And for Pete’s sake, turn off your TV when you hear that Sarah McLachlan commercial come on…

 

Featured Image Credit: DaPuglet, Flickr