Some of you might look at that statement and cringe. You can barely manage one dog, especially if it’s a puppy, and here someone is suggesting you get a second or even third one.
For some, obviously not all, it’s sensible. Let’s examine the reasoning.
One of the best reasons is that two dogs that have a similar playstyle and are of similar age or at least close enough, will exhaust each other instead of you! This doesn’t mean that people in the family don’t interact with each dog – and indeed they need to do so in order for each dog to develop a bond with the humans – but let’s face it, dogs have more energy than we do. The exception might be kids, but they are not home all the time to play with the dogs.
Multiple dogs also learn from each other. They watch each other and learn valuable skills. They learn both good and bad behaviors but once one learns, it is likely the other will follow.
Companionship is another prime reason for multiple dogs. When you go to work or just leave the house, the dogs can depend on each other for company. They are less likely to develop separation issues. They comfort each other during scary moments, curling up together.
It is usually best, but not written in stone, that the dogs be different sexes. That doesn’t mean two males or two females will not get along, but their humans should watch for dominance issues.
Make sure that no matter what the sex, you get them spayed and neutered on the youngish side to avoid behavior such as humping or getting on top of the other dog and growling (not in play) or marking or unwanted pregnancy.
Getting the right personality fit is critical. You don’t want dogs that are constantly battling for dominance. Dogs get along best when one is submissive and one a bit more dominant, or both are on the neutral side.
Having at least one dog that is confident and self-secure is also a good thing, as that one can bring those skills to a less secure dog. Having a mentor dog is a wonderful companion to a dog that lacks confidence.
Dogs that guard food, bones or toys can be a real problem. Check out puppies by setting them up with items to be assured they don’t have this problem, at least not to begin with. If you are getting both dogs from a shelter, foster or breeder, mention this so they can have a behaviorist check them out. Feed separately to avoid this issue.
I know you will have to walk and work with the dogs, pay food and vet bills, but the pleasure they will bring is priceless. Dogs that enjoy the same games – tug, chase, playing up on their back legs – will be a joy for your family as well as themselves, and you will actually get some down time to relax and have a glass of wine!
Abby Bird is owner of Alphadog Training Academy. AlphadogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com