One or Two – A Doggy Dilemma?

Since dogs are pack animals, they have an instinct to live as part of a group and being alone can feel very unnatural for them. Their lives require order and everyone in the pack must have a place, from the head of the pack to the lowest members of the group. For humans to live alongside dogs in harmony, we must understand the dog’s instinct to have such order and be certain that they know their place within the family. Your pet dog will look to you as his leader, and in fact, most dogs are much more content when they have orders to follow, quickly becoming stressed and miserable when they don’t.

When dogs in the wild are separated from the rest of their pack, they may become worried and anxious, and we see such anxiety often manifesting itself in the form of destructive behaviour when pet dogs are left unattended in the home or yard for hours at a time. However, there are many things that you can do to curb this unwelcome, destructive behaviour, and one of these is to get another dog to keep your pet company.

Should you add another dog to your household?

There are may happy stories about senior dogs getting their second wind after a younger dog is added to the family, or of shy and nervous dogs becoming much more confident and happier when introduced to a second dog. In many cases, dogs are just happier living with another fellow canine. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and not all dogs get along, but in general, it can work if you have patience and have clear rules in place for both dogs to understand. Rules need to be enforced with simple, repetitive behaviours that never include yelling or hitting, and while the two dogs may instinctually compete to understand their role in the pack, the leader should clearly be the human to avoid any conflicts from arising between the two dogs.

Things to keep in mind if getting a second pet dog:

When adding a new dog to the family, try to select one that has similar or lower levels of energy to your existing pet and is not likely to try and be dominant. A gentle or submissive personality usually works well and can help you to avoid seeking professional help to control your pet’s behaviour. Second pets that are introduced and that have higher energy levels or a more dominant personality can cause their owners multiple problems, and they may often regret their decision to take on another pet.

As with all decisions related to pets, never make them in haste and always talk things through with other members of your household to ensure that everybody is on board with your decision. If your pet has any special needs or has a troublesome personality, it might also be worth talking things through with a professional, either a dog trainer or
behaviouralist, or even your local and trusted veterinarian.

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