When to add a second dog to your family can be a difficult decision. It’s an emotional vs. rational discussion. It’s a question I’ve been struggling with for a couple of years. I know my dog, Henry would love a 24/7 playmate, but is it the best or smartest idea at this point? Is there any “right time” for a second dog? Today, let’s dig and discover if you are ready for a second dog. That includes looking at the pros and cons of getting another dog.
Budget Tip: You might be itching to get another dog for a multitude of reasons. However, it's always best to fully evaluate your finances and other considerations covered here. If you are worried about being able to afford a second dog, then a great way to test your financial readiness is to set up a "dog savings account". Figure out your dog budget and put into that dog account the amount it would take to care for a second dog each month. Once you've done this with ease for a few months, then you will feel more comfortable in seeking out another dog.
My dog NEEDS a playmate, right?
You might be in the same boat as me and thinking:
Am I doing my dog a disservice by not getting second dog playmate?
Let’s examine this question first a little since it is imperative to the addition of a second dog.
We know dogs are pack animals. When they become part of our families, they are part of our pack. So, is this enough? Or do they need a connection with their own DNA family? According to Animal Wellness Magazine, as long as dogs have plenty of playtime with other dogs, such as with friends’ pups or at the dog park, they don’t need to have a full-time playmate. Your dog, and Henry, will have enough socialization and there will be no harm done. Great news! So far, I haven’t harmed Henry by not getting a second dog.
With that major milestone out of the way. Let’s move to learn about the pros of adding a second dog to your family. This is more of the emotional or heart part of the argument. So, let’s dive deeper.
Pros of getting a second dog
1. Dog companion
It would fill my main goal of Henry always having a playmate. Does this sound like one of your goals? Although, as we just learned, it’s not critical to have a dog companion.
2. Exhausted dogs
With two dogs playing a lot of the time, they will tend to wear each other out. At least to start with and this will make your job of chief executive in charge of exercise much less critical.
3. Save a life
If you adopt a dog, you’ll be saving a life or giving a homeless dog a second chance. Always love this one!
4. Extra love
With two dogs, there will be more love and funny moments to fill your house.
Each of these pros is great on its own, but taken together they seem like a fairly good argument for another dog.
However, before you hop in your car and head to the shelter, let’s look at the cons of adding a second dog to your family. This is the rational part and a bit more difficult to balance compared with the amazing pros.
Cons of getting a second dog
1. Budget doubles
I know everything always comes down to money. However, it’s super important to know that you can afford another dog before you introduce it to your current one and fall in love with it. So, when looking at your budget think about how your budget will double on these items in particular:
- dog food
- supplies (bowls, beds, leashes, collars, toys…)
- veterinarian care and needs
- prescription medications (heartworm, tick/flea, etc.)
- dog walker
- doggie daycare
- dog boarding
It’s starting to add up quickly, isn’t it?
Do you have the time for additional walks, more training, or more cleanups in the yard? How full is your plate now? Be honest. Can you fully commit to another dog?
3. Lease issue
Keep in mind that some landlords won’t allow multiple pets or dogs if you rent your home. Please check your lease before committing to a second dog.
If you like to vacation with your dog, it could be more difficult with two dogs. Some pet-friendly hotels only allow one dog per room.
Do you have space for two dogs? This means space for each dog to have a bed, food space, and room to roam.
6. All the household say it’s a go
This means not only your current dog, but other animals, your kids, your partner, and other humans (including any live-in parents you care for or may care for in the future.)
7. Bad behaviors
Your current dog may teach the second dog all his bad habits such as barking at passing traffic. Then you have two bad behaviors to correct.
8. Not a clone of the current dog
We all tend to have experiences with animals, and dogs specifically, and then expect other animals and dogs to behave the same, whether that’s good or bad. So, if your dog now is super easy, don’t expect that your second dog will necessarily mimic the first dog. Just like with kids and people, all dogs have their own personalities and needs. Some dogs are shy, hyperactive, low energy, social, independent, velcro dogs, or even riddled with anxiety at the drop of a pin. You can’t always tell what lies under the fur. But you need to be prepared for whatever is revealed later down the road.
I know this was a lot on the con list. But remember, a second dog is a lifetime commitment, not a spontaneous addition.
Are there times when a second dog is a bad idea?
Awe, yes. Like with most things in life there are times when a second dog just doesn’t make sense or the reasons for it doesn’t add up.
“I don’t want another dog, but my partner, kids, or dog does so I guess it’s ok.” This is always a bad idea. You’ll live in regret and never fully commit to the second dog, which isn’t fair.
2. Calm my dog
I want a second dog to calm my hyperactive current dog. This generally never works and you will often find the current dog teaching the second dog bad habits. Ugh! More work for you. Who wants that when a second dog is supposed to make things easier, right?
3. Teach my aggressive dog to be chill
Again, this will generally not help your current dog. These issues need to be addressed before bringing a second dog to your home.
4. Socialize my dog
While this can help your dog’s social skills, it can also backfire and create more problems with increased bad habits. You want to think about socializing your dog more before adding a second dog. You can do this with playdates with friends and family dogs, playtime at the dog park, or even more regular visits to doggy daycare.
How are you doing with your list? I’m ready to share my results. Are you?
Summary of tail scratcher – how do you know if you’re ready for a second dog?
Getting a second dog is a big life-changing decision. The decision isn’t easy. It’s a heart vs. head decision. While all the pros of getting another dog are amazing, some of the cons can cause give pause (or paws). Doubling my dog budget is huge. I never sacrifice my dog’s needs, so my dog budget is high. Did you think twice about the dog budget or did you pass that one by without much thought?
Time is also a big con for me. Unfortunately, for now, it looks like we’ll wait for a second dog. I think I’ll break the news gently to Henry over a cookie and belly rub.