I grew up in a one-dog household and always wondered what it would be like having two, especially hearing my husband’s amazing stories of a multiple-dog household. Having two dogs isn’t doubled the work but it’s definitely not something you should jump into.
For me, the considerations and preparations for a second dog were more weighty than when we decided to get our first dog.
Before I approached my husband about bringing another dog into the family, I scoured the internet about multi-dog households, how to introduce the dogs, the best combo (female-male, female-female, puppy, older dog) etc etc. And of course I had already been looking at the local rescues for suitable dogs. Knowing I didn’t want a puppy did help to narrow down the choices, somewhat.
The first dog we met was more than five years ago in Singapore. He was a black mixed breed. We had deliberately put black dogs as our first choice as black dogs have a much harder time finding a home in Singapore. Even black labs (a breed known for their friendliness) get glares.
The meeting at the botanical gardens went well but the dog was really too timid. In the end, despite the amount of research I had done, we decided it wasn’t time. The reality of handling two dogs was a lot different than I had imagined. Blackspot was still very energetic then. Still a baby who perhaps was not so ready to relinquish her role as the family dog.
Questions you may ask yourself:
1. How is your dog with other dogs? Especially visitors in your home. Will your dog appreciate another dog’s company? While some dogs are friendly and love to play they may also love to be the only dog in the house.
2. How much time do you have to devote to the new dog, without penalizing time from your resident dog? If you adopt a puppy, there is training (housebreaking, obedience,walking, maybe crate), socialization, etc. If you adopt an older dog it may be the same. If you rescue there may be other focuses.
3. Do you have the financial resources for more than one dog, especially if you may need to relocate? Some companies only cover the costs of one pet.
4. Can you physically handle two dogs? Will you be walking them together? Or separately.
5. How will you handle the adjustment period? It’s not quite the same as for one dog since there is another animal involved and some issues may not be foreseen. How your resident dog responds may be entirely different than what you would anticipate. And are you ready to see your resident dog go from top dog to underdog?
There are many other questions you may need to examine depending on your home and lifestyle. Do you have the space? Does the new dog have to be kid- and animal-friendly? What energy level are you looking for? So basically all the questions you would ask for adopting any dog plus new questions on behalf of your resident dog and other family members.
For us the biggest concern was about our resident dog. I came to Singapore unemployed and then began working as a consultant. Even though my schedule was more free and flexible, I thought it’d be nice for our dog to have some company.
Getting a second dog for company can be a good idea but getting one to help with issues like separation anxiety and barking will not help and may worsen the situation. Many of these issues (not separation anxiety) sometimes stem from a lack of exercise. Examining your your dog’s current exercise regime is a good place to start, not bringing a playmate into the house.
Most people just want their dog to have company, to have a playmate, and to be happy. The more you understand your dog and the more well-adjusted and obedient-trained your dog is, the easier the decision and likely the transition as well.
In the end we did get a second dog, an older rescue who has now been with us for nearly three years. In the meantime Blackspot had mellowed out and our “new” and older dog is ironically crazy energetic. When it came down to choosing our second dog we decided that an older and smaller/lighter dog works best for us.
Having two dogs has its challenges but only because we rely on taxis for transport. So if you have a car this wouldn’t apply to you anyway. Other challenges are minor like battling for a spot in bed, losing blanket cover during the night, having two dogs vying for treats, syncing two dogs’ bladder needs. It does help that I work freelance and can shape my own daily schedule. Having a helper would also help.
For us the joys of adding a new canine member to the family have exceeded all expectations. It took some time before she fully settled in and for us to really know her. But having these two dogs makes every day fun and funny.
There’s a lot of love at our home.