Are You Ready For Second Dog?

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.

when to get a second dog
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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
  • grooming
  • training
  • prescription medications (heartworm, tick/flea, etc.)
  • training
  • dog walker
  • doggie daycare
  • dog boarding

It’s starting to add up quickly, isn’t it? 

In this article, I talk about how to create a dog budget.

2. Time

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.

4. Vacation

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. 

5. 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. 

1. Reason

“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.

In this article, I talk about the science behind aggressive dogs and how to help calm your dog if he is aggressive. 

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. 

In this article, I talk about how to find a great 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. 

having two dogs

How did you do on your analysis of getting a second dog? Are you planning to add to your dog family? Or will you wait like me? 


20 thoughts on “Are You Ready For Second Dog?”

  1. Some great things to consider for sure! One thing I always tell people who ask me if they should consider getting a second dog is that two dogs is three times the work- Not only do you have to manage each dog independently, but you have to manage their interactions together. Even dogs who generally get along are not always a perfect match for each other all the time – they can have different play styles, energy levels, triggers, etc and making sure they maintain a positive relationship with one another can be hard work!

    • That’s terrific insight into a second dog. Yes, I could see that two dogs could be like having three dogs. It certainly would make sense that well-mannered dogs may have to adjust or have an issue with things the new dog does and there would need to be supervision. That is definitely something to keep in mind. I will when my time comes to get a second dog. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I wish we could ask the first dog don’t you? Your first thought should be can you afford it. Dog veterinary care and food takes a lot of money (even with cheap food) and if you can’t afford it, you need to think very carefully.

    You list the pros and cons so well here I know it will help people make a more informed choce.

    • I hope it helps people as they struggle with the decision of adding another dog to their pack. You are absolutely right, if you can’t afford a dog for whatever reason, then you wait until you can afford one.

  3. There are pros and cons and although I would love a second dog I personally do not think Layla would be happy as she is so used to being an only dog so gave up on the idea some time ago. Great post

    • I’m with you. I would love another dog. Henry would too. My problem is I just don’t have time to commit to another dog. Although, I’m sure Henry would say he’d take care of his new playmate, much like a child.

      I think you know Layla best and if you feel she wouldn’t like a playmate, then there’s no need in pursuing the thought of a second dog. Besides Layla is awesome for you!

  4. Oh I made such a HUGE mistake on this one. I got my dogs as puppies a week apart. It was an absolute mess of a training experience – they fed each other’s bad habits. I feel like the timing of the new dog is just as important as understanding or realizing your want two dogs. I’m not sure what the ideal time would be – I’ve heard some say 2 years apart, but others say closer to 4-5?

    • Wow! That’s a great observation. Age difference should be considered when getting a second dog. I’ll have to look into that question. How many years difference should there be? Or does it matter by breed? Hmmm…. Thanks for putting these questions in my mind. I’ve often wondered how parents of twins or triplets do it. You had puppy twins in a sense. That is a lot of work, which I hadn’t considered. You would definitely need a tag team of dog/puppy parents to have a decent chance-I would think. Or simply wear yourself out. I suspect you had a combo.

  5. I’ve almost always had more than one dog at a time, and aside from the budget, it hasn’t felt like a lot more work. We found that multiple dogs aren’t necessarily more difficult than one. However, timing is critical! It seems like you’ve given this a lot of thought and I’m glad you are waiting until the time is right for you and Henry!

    • I think you are absolutely correct. Timing is everything. I’m hoping that in Spring or Summer the timing will be a bit better and a second dog could enter our family. Timing is definitely key, though. Thanks for your insights!

  6. I remember those thoughts when I had my previous Persian cat. I finally decided not to get a kitten because Praline was 15 years old. It turns out I made the right choice because Praline was diagnosed with cancer 9 months later. I love that I got two kittens at the same time this time.,

    • I’m sorry to hear about your precious Praline. It sounds like you made the right decision when you got your two kittens. It’s always a difficult decision. Kittens are always fun and two are full of antics. Thanks for sharing your process.

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