Thinking of getting your resident doggo a companion? While it’s common to do so, it’s still important to do your homework before introducing a second dog to your home.
After all, dogs aren’t just playthings — they’re part of the family. Making sure your family, including your resident dog, are ready for a new family member is vital!
Before getting a second dog, here are some factors to consider
1. Are you financially ready to bear the cost?
Before you get caught up in all the excitement, make sure your bank account is ready to take on the expenses of a second dog.
Calculate roughly how much you are spending on your resident dog each year and from there, estimate how much it would cost to add one more furry member.
Do not overlook the size of your potential new dog - the bigger the dog, the more expensive it may get when it comes to food, transport, grooming, etc..
2. What’s your dog’s personality like?
Just like people, different dogs have different temperaments.
Not all dogs are friends with each other. Some of them just don't get along. Try to get a second dog that can match and complement your dog's personality.
Having two dogs at home wrestling each other and snuggling together is awesome. However, be sure to manage your own expectations - some dogs accept each other but they don't become best friends.
3. Arranging a meetup is good but there's no guarantee
If you’re thinking of adopting a dog from the shelter, you can bring your dog along with you and observe which dogs she seems to have an affinity to.
Letting your dog “meet” your next potential dog may be helpful but it doesn't guarantee anything.
Some dogs may seem open and friendly to each other in the beginning but don't be surprised when things don't go as well as expected when they live under the same roof. It's like going on a first date. There may be a good first impression but that doesn't mean you'd definitely like the other party.
The same applies to dogs that may seem apprehensive with their new furry friend at first. They may grow to be inseparable eventually.
4. You are key to helping your dogs get along
You know your dog best. Always give them priority to what’s most important to them when there’s a new dog in the house.
For example, for greedy dogs, feed them first. This would prevent them from feeling left out or less important.
Soon, you would learn that different dogs value different things and them living harmoniously together depends on how you understand and manage those priorities.
5. Age doesn't matter as much as activity levels and health
While older dogs tend not to be as active or as quick as younger dogs, age is not the main concern when you’re getting a new dog to be part of your family.
What’s more important is to make sure that both your dogs have similar activity levels.
One of our dogs, Coco, was still going strong and active even when she was 11 years old. She got along pretty well with her seven-year-old playmate from next door.
Similarly, a slow, old dog may be stressed by a hyper dog and may do better with a calmer companion that’s not necessarily in the same age group.
Getting a dog with similar activity levels as your resident dog would help nurture stronger bonds as both dogs would have similar ideas of a good time. Just like people, dogs tend to get along well with other dogs who share more similarities with them.
If a dog has long-term health issues — such as disabilities and blindness — they may not do well with overly energetic dogs.
Ash, one of the dogs my family used to keep, lost her sight as she aged and she couldn’t play with the younger, more energetic dachshund our aunt decided to adopt. Both dogs had to be kept in separate areas of the house or Ash would be frightened to her wits!
Your second dog’s health is also important to consider. Always bring the new dog for a thorough checkup to clear them of any contagious diseases or infections before letting them interact with your existing one.
6. Gender matters
From experience, a pair of female dogs or a pair of unneutered male dogs has a higher tendency to fight as they vie for dominance. Even if they’ve grown up together as pups, conflicts may occur as they mature.
Lily and Popi, two of my family’s dogs (female mutts), had grown up together and were inseparable as pups. However, as they aged, Lily grew to be much bigger than Popi and that changed the dynamics of their relationship. With hormones kicking in as they matured, it resulted in hostile fights and it became almost impossible for us to walk both dogs together.
If you’re getting another dog, it’s usually a safer bet to get a dog of the opposite gender.
But if that's what you have decided to do, make sure you separate (when the female is on heat) or neuter one of your dogs to prevent unexpected pregnancies! Separation may prove to be difficult, though, so the latter is recommended. Be responsible!
7. Size matters too
Precautions and special attention should be paid if the size between the two dogs is drastically different. The bigger dog may accidentally hurt the smaller dog during play or fights.
8. There’s something called social facilitation
Social facilitation means that one dog's behaviour amplifies or changes another's. Dogs learn from each other.
A fearful dog can get reassurance and comfort from her more confident companion. But that also means that they may pick up bad behaviours from each other. For example, a dog that barks at strangers may also trigger the other to bark along.
That also means that if you have trouble training your current dog to behave well, then perhaps you are not ready for another dog.
There are lots of factors to consider when getting a second dog to join your family. Besides your resident dog’s health, age, and personality, you’ll also need to know how to go about introducing the two.
Whether you’re adopting a dog or buying one from an ethical breeder, make sure you do ample research on your part. Remember: dogs are sensitive to changes in their environment and they may not know how to express themselves. Gradual introduction and prioritising your dogs’ needs are key when you’re welcoming a new dog to your home!
Do you have any of your own experience of having two dogs at home? Share it with us!
Written by Noelle Woon
Noelle Woon is a full-time freelance writer who specialises in personal finance, travel, and pets. Here’s a thought: if people were like dogs and recognised each other by scent, the perfume industry might have been a multi-trillion industry.
Featured image: Daria Shevtsova from Pexels