Owning Two Dogs

The Pros And Cons Of Having Two Dogs At The Same Time

Whether you bring home two pups at the same time, or add a second dog into your home, one of your first considerations should be financial. It is important to make sure you have the means to take care of all your dogs’ needs.  If you are considering two pups at the same time, consider the fact that many of your financial obligations will also be coming in pairs.  Twice as much dog food, double the number of leashes, collars, dishes, beds and toys.  Vaccinations, spay/neutering and training classes will all be on the same schedule.  Once you have come to terms with that, it is time to take a look at the pros and cons of having two dogs at the same time.

On the positive side, it is nice for them to have company.  Two dogs can keep each other active and certainly two pups can help keep each other tired, which any new puppy owner can attest to is a bonus.  On the less positive side, you should be willing and able to give each pup its separate bonding time with you.  This is true for each scenario, whether both dogs enter your home together or you add a second one later.  It is great to walk both dogs at the same time, but it is not so easy to train two dogs at the same time.  If one of the dogs has no leash manners, adding another dog will likely double your frustration.

It’s like having two children.  At each stage of their lives, they will be having different experiences.  Each of your dogs should be given the same consideration.  If you took your first dog to training classes, then your second dog should be given the same opportunity and that might mean you’ll have to go out after work to do some training exercises with your second dog, while dog number one stays at home. This makes many dog owners feel guilty, but it is quite normal and natural to leave the first dog behind when you work with another dog that has come into your family.  There’s no reason to feel guilty about it, as long as you give your original dog some quality time during the day.

I have advised families to add dogs to their homes in stages.  It is much easier on the dog and the family.  If your previous dog has been trained already it will make less stress for you in the long run.

When you add another dog, there are steps to take to make sure the transition is smooth.  If your first dog doesn’t seem to like other dogs, talk to a professional, to make sure you’re making a reasonable decision.  Often, even dogs that like other dogs have trouble accepting another dog into the home.  If you are adding an adult dog to the mix, introduce them on neutral territory, somewhere that neither one has established as its own.  Keep each dog on a leash, but make sure that leashes remain slack.  Let the dogs greet each other and keep them moving along.  A nice walk in the park or biking trail can be the perfect place.

There are a few common mistakes.  The first is over-correcting, or punishing, the original family dog for growling at the new pup.  While we certainly don’t condone growling, each dog must be helped to understand what is expected.  By scolding your dog, you are increasing his chances of not liking and accepting the new pup.  Think of it from your dog’s point of view: every time that darn pup is around, bad things happen.

The best way I have found to add a pup to the family is to keep the pup confined unless you are there to supervise.  This is to help the older dog realize that he doesn’t always have to put up with the shenanigans of a puppy.  When you have both out together, feed dog number one.  By giving him lots of tasty treats in the presence of the pup, you are changing his mind about the whole scene.  Now when the pup is in his company, good things happen for him.  I have used this approach many times and each time it has worked like a charm.  It will also ensure that your relationship with your original dog stays intact.

The second common error is to let the dogs sort it our.  We frequently hear this from other dog owners who have added a second dog.  They are hoping that their older dog will tell the young pup off, but that is rarely the case.  In fact, it is putting too much pressure on the family pet that has been raised to be gentle and well mannered.  It is best that we, eternal pack leader types that we are, step in to help the pup understand that pestering is not always an option.  It will show both dogs who is in charge of the household.

I have found that if each dog, get its own special time and special activities they become pals.  What I can share with you is that each of your dogs will have something to teach you and there is no bigger gift you can give to yourself.  My dogs have taught me so much and all they want in return is to be loved, which they are very much loved by me and my whole family and friends.