Bringing just one dog into a household can be a major decision, especially if you have chosen to rescue a dog with issues or are starting over with a new puppy. However, there are pluses and minuses in considering adding a second dog to your pack.

If you own a shy or insecure dog, having another dog – if selected properly – is definitely a plus. If you choose what we call a “mentor dog,” who is self-confident, relaxed and calm in social situations and environmentally well experienced, often their calmness can rub off on the less secure dog.

The shy dog will watch the mentor dog and gain confidence, sometimes even coming out of their shell when they see their buddy is doing just fine. These two polar opposites make a great match and should be sought after. Having a dog that may even be older can do the trick for your insecure dog.

A dog that has lost a lifelong buddy but is still lively can also benefit from acquiring a new friend. It can bring new life and help them through their grief. This gives them something else to focus on and enables them to get on with their lives.

Often these dogs become needy and demanding if they are left alone without a new companion. Proper selection is critical here. You are not looking for a dog that reminds you or your dog of the one that passed, but one that stimulates new interest in life and activities. A dog that shares play styles and games will be the best companion.

Avoid a dog that puts stress on your dog. That might mean not getting a puppy. That might be too much for the older dog to deal with. If they are older, then chances are they will have limited tolerance for puppy behavior and antics.

Just because you have a big dog doesn’t mean that a smaller dog may not be appropriate. Some dogs like to nurture other dogs and small dogs may seem more puppyish. This way you can have small but without having to endure puppyhood.

How about a dog that may have infirmities, or a senior dog? Often these dogs settle right into your pack. Three-legged dogs, deaf or blind dogs … all are fabulous choices if they fit your lifestyle once your other dog has given the OK.

Having another dog avoids having to leave your dog home alone. This too can help to make them more secure as they watch the skills your other dog has.

The new dog selection is fraught with trial and error processes. Should you get opposite sex, different size, how close in age and energy? The additional dog is really a dog for your dog and only secondarily for you. While certain criteria for your desires should be met, remember this is a companion for your dog.

Need help evaluating or selecting a new companion dog? Free consults are available by emailing me at

Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy.