Dear Labby, Should We Get a Second Dog?
We are thinking about adding a second dog to our family. I’d like a medium sized dog that would be a good watchdog, but also a companion for our current dog a six-year old Shepherd/Akita mix. We plan to adopt and wonder if our local rescue is the best place to start? Do you think adding a 2nd dog is a good thing to do, and if so, what are the things we should consider?
Looking for a New Dog
That’s a great question and I’m glad you are taking your time and being thoughtful about adding to your family. Measuring your needs and your family needs is crucial to a successful adoption. The following are a few factors to consider when making your decision about adding another pet:
- Time: An important consideration is how much time you have to devote to training your new family member. The younger the dog, the more time and training they will need. An adult or senior dog may be more adaptable and therefore fit into your schedule more easily. Whatever the age, the first few weeks and months will be critical for you to spend time with the dog bonding and establishing a routine and family rules.
- Exercise Needs: An active dog is going to require exercise. Some dogs may be satisfied with 1-2 short walks a day but some dogs needs 90-120 minutes of stimulating cardio each and every day to maintain a calm and relaxed demeanor. Yes, it’s possible that two dogs will play together and therefore add to their daily exercise, but you never know. Our dogs Jack & Maggie NEVER play with each other, so don’t count on that as an outlet for energy.
- Personality: Your personality is probably the single most important factor to consider. Your preference, Shepherd/Akita mix is a mix of two typically strong personalities and protective dogs. It will require a strong, patient, dedicated personality to lead and train them. Are you willing to put in the time required and to hire a trainer if needed?
- Other family members: In addition to the human family members, consider the other canine or feline members of your family when choosing to add another pet. Depending on the dog, they may be amenable to a new family member, or they may be resentful. Obviously, a well socialized pet is more apt to accept a new member, but you want to ensure that they will get along. When we adopted Becca, our dog Tino was about 12 years old and blind. While I would have loved to adopt a young puppy, I knew that would be difficult for Tino to adapt to. We needed to take his needs into account when making the decision.
- Money: This is a factor many people don’t stop and think about, but obviously adding a 2nd dog just doubled your expenses. Twice as much food, double the vet costs, etc. Be sure you can afford having a second dog.
After weighing these considerations, you reach the conclusion that you definitely want another pet, congratulations! Since there is much more to the process other than making an informed decision, stay tuned for Dear Labby next week and we’ll discuss some tips for choosing your new dog and then the final post in the series, introducing your new dog to the family.