One Plus One Equals More

I got my first second dog about twenty years ago. Dog number one, Brum, was an only child. At the age of 6 he came to live with me, his 4th home. By the age of 12 he was still our only dog, and the apple of my eye. Many people would assume that adding a second dog to the family would not be a good idea with a canine senior citizen in residence, but if truth be told, it was for purely selfish reasons.


The reason for my second dog was the most common reasons for adding dog number two. We don’t want to find ourselves dog-less. We don’t want to come home to an empty house, to have no one to accompany us on our daily walks or no one to share our lives with. Adding a dog to your family can be, and should be, well thought out, whether it be your first dog or your second dog. For many dog people, it is unthinkable to be dog-less and therefore we tend to live with multiple dogs. When the inevitable happens, and we loose one of our beloved companions, we are not alone and will find comfort in the companionship of not only friends and family but also of our remaining dog. We will not be dog-less. This is the number one reason that pet dog owners add a second dog to their families.


My first second dog, Preston, was a Border Terrier. He was chosen carefully and size, hair coat, temperment and age were all a consideration when he was picked out for our family. He was to be my shining star. This dog was slated to compete in obedience and sports, to be my constant companion and to share in my life 100%. My plan was set. I lost Preston when he was only 2 years of age, and my world was shattered. Brum was 17 years old at that time.


My second dog number two was Cruiser. I knew I wanted a second dog. He was chosen for his breed (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever), and his potential to participate in dog sports. He also happened to be quite opposite to Preston when it came to size, coat and temperment. There would be no room for comparisions. He came to live with Brum and I, and he lived a full and happy life. He fulfilled the roll as the shining star and I am grateful to this day for the world he opened up for me. He provided stimulation and excitement for Brum. Yes, Brum was with me until age 18, and seemed to have renewed life when Cruiser was added to our lives. This is a common theme amongst dog owners when considering dog number two. They want to provide stimulation and a companion for dog number one, especially in their golden years.


My third dog number two was Levi. She came to me as an adult when Cruiser was an adult. Were they best friends? No, they co-habitated very well. One of my colleagues mentioned to me that she has the same experience with her terriers, Fez and Annie. She believes that it is because they established their relationships as adults rather than as youngsters. I believe this is also true in my situation. They do provide companionship for each other, but for some dogs this does not mean they have physical interaction such as play. Companionship for dog number one is a main concern for dog owners and one of the top reasons they get dog number two. Make sure you understand what companionship means to you. For Brum, at his age, the addition of a much younger dog gave him something to watch more than a companion but that was enough for him. And why did my colleague add Annie to the family when they already lived with Fez? Easy. One was great, two would be even better. Well said.


Choosing dog number two has to be given the same thought and consideration as choosing dog number one. In fact, in certain areas, you will need to address more concerns when adding dog number two. Being in this wonderful dog world both personally and professionally, I tend to think multi-dog households are common. I have the opportunity to see a lot of dogs added to a lot of families and there are equally as many reasons for the additions as there are dogs. You need to look at your family now. How has it changed? Are you more or less active than when you added dog number one? Are their children in the family now? If so, you need to make sure dog number two is friendly not only to you and dog number one, but also to your children. Do you travel and if so, will dog number two be welcome? By making a list of your needs and wants, your criteria should become clear.


Make sure that you address time and financial considerations. Make sure you have time to devote to two dogs, and that the whole family is on board to make the transition smooth. Two dogs equals twice the expense on everything including Veterinarian, boarding, grooming, training, food and don’t forget double the toys and treats.


When is the best time to add a dog? I would suggest that it is best to add a second (or third) dog to your home once the first dog is organized. To me, this means that he is out of the puppy stage, finished with toilet training, has his basic words under his belt and a full relationship is there


There is no perfect time. One of the trainers I know spent years searching for the perfect dog. She has one special terrier that had all of her heart, but always knew she wanted to add a dog. She had her lists and had checked them twice. Should there be hair, or no hair? A boy or a girl? A puppy or adult? Large breed or toy breed? These questions circled her head until she met her perfect puppy. She will say that her first dog was spur of the moment, and the second dog more planned. In looking closer, she simply had her heart open to allowing the dog that was meant to be with her to enter and it was a match made in heaven.


Living in a multi-dog household can bring you so much joy. The sheer entertainment factors of watching the pair of them play, not to mention two times the number of cuddles, is worth the compromise. Joan Weston, a renowned behaviorist, says it best. In her eyes, she is lazy. Having multiple dogs keeps them well exercised while she has her feet up on the couch. When speaking with Joan about her decision to add to their multiple-dog home, I asked how she would decide on what dog is the right dog for her family. Her breeds of choice are bulldogs and pugs, and she does a lot of breed rescue for these clubs. Her tendency is to stick to these two breeds but after that, she will say it is important to let your heart guide you towards the right dog.


A strange turn of events happened to one trainer I know just a few weeks ago. She was on a list for a boxer puppy. She had her heart set on this pup, but to make a long story short, it was not meant to be and the pup went to someone else. She was heartbroken at the time. Fate stepped in, and a wonderful 6month old boxer pup ended up at boxer rescue only a few days later. She was contacted and an immediate connection was made. She had done the research and knew this breed was right for the family. Her decision to add dog number two was set. Her heart was open and the right dog came to her.


Training, and dog sports, can be another reason that people add dogs. A dog is added to the family, and the training process begins. The training bug hits both husband and wife, and then it becomes obvious they need a second dog so they can both pursue this passion. Many dog sport enthusiasts find a great deal of joy in training and the process of training. As they see dog number one creeping up in years, they often feel the urge to start the process again. It is with this in mind that dog sport enthusists choose dog number two with a criteria based on the sports they are doing as a family. The dog they choose will most likely have an athletic body and a quick mind.


The number one issue for families with one dog to decide against adding dog number two, is the issue of travel. Many find it much more difficult to find someone to take care of two dogs while they are away. In my opinion, it is well worth finding a dog camp that you love, and leaving your dogs in their capable hands while you are on holiday. We have a boat that we use a lot in the summer. The dogs were first and the boating life second. If it was reversed, I am not sure we would have added dog number three or four. The dogs that share our family were not raised on a boat, nor did they have any boating experience. We were apprehensive, but they surprised us and we had a fantastic summer with them in Georgian Bay. When I choose my next dog, my criteria will change, and I will seek out a smaller dog that loves the water. In the meantime, Im glad we share this adventure with our pack.


If you are unsure of the commitment, try looking into fostering a dog. There are many rescue organizations looking for temporary homes for the dogs until their forever homes are found. Who knows, you may end up with your perfect match before you know it.


The decision has been made, and dog number two is now a full-fledged family member. It is important to make sure that dog number one and dog number two are compatible. Take them to a neutral area, such as a park they have both never been to, and introduce them slowly. It is always surprising to me the number of people that call us to tell us their first dog doesn’t like dog number two and upon delving into it, we find out that the first dog had ongoing issues with other dogs in general. If this is the case, please seek the advice and help of a canine behaviorist to get dog number one on track first. Give them time to adjust. They might need a couple of meetings before they feel comfortable with each other.


Keep in mind that it is not just a matter of adding dog number two to dog number one’s routine. Dog number two needs his own one on one time with you. He needs to be trained individually, occasionally walked individually and some special one on one time with you. It is important to create a special connection with each of your dogs. Take time to understand them and to know them as an individual. Each dog is unique plus our lives are in a continual pattern of ebbs and flows. Take a chance. Add dog number two, or three, and follow your bliss.

The Free Course Collection for Dog Owners, Trainers, Breeders, Veterinarians, Shelters/Rescues and Pet Stores