Dear Labby, Should We Get a Second Dog?

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Dear Labby_oldDear Labby,
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
Dear Looking,
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.
  • happy woman with three adopted street dogs, studio shot

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.


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  1. You are so wise! Such great advice!
    MyDogLikes recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: Stay Fit, Stay Young!My Profile

  2. Great advice! I just got a second dog. Your point about having enough time to spend is well taken. Last night she got into the extra bag of dog food and ate approximately 10 pounds of it before MY dog barked to alert me (he was probably jealous that she was eating and he was not)……….. her belly presently looks like a pigmy goat. I did not sleep much last night!

  3. It’s great that you mentioned the financial factor…. it’s worth to ponder about that fact, it’s the worst when you have to pay two huge vet bills….
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog 40 Winks FOR…My Profile

  4. Great advice! I sometimes think Choppy would like a friend. Then I see how jealous she is of the husband and I realize that this is a poor idea. A very poor idea.
    Sarah Ferguson recently posted…Throwback Thursday: Somewhere Above PhoenixMy Profile

  5. Great points to consider. I would say at first two dogs required 3x as much time/commitment as one, but that multiplier continues to decrease. By the time Penny is an adult, I suspect that multiplier to be quite minimal. Unfortunately the multiplier that never changes is the financial one.

  6. Great advice ! I can’t wait to see the next two posts! Thank you for the thoughts and considerations; I echo MyDogLikes – very wise!

  7. Fantastic article! Everything you mentioned is so important to consider, particularly the financial aspect of things. Our 2 pups cost us around $300 every month, which includes a high-quality kibble, medical dog insurance, and routine vet care/ monthly pest prevention treatments.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…K9 Dog Trainer ~ #trainyourdogmonthMy Profile

  8. Mom used to say a second dog would be no big deal as you do the same things only with two dogs, and then she got the second dog. Lots more work, now there are three of us, really lots more work, but if you don’t mind devoting most of your life to the dogs, it is not an issue. Don’t forget the added costs, especially the larger the dogs.
    Emma recently posted…One Joyful GBGVMy Profile

  9. Great advice! We considered all of those things before adopting Luke. Oh, I should say I considered all of those things, my hubby just likes to jump in with both feet!
    Jan K recently posted…#BtC4A – Turning Anger into ActionMy Profile

  10. Patricia McConnell posted last year about research that found that in-shelter introductions of potential pets to existing dogs did not predict if those dogs would get along in the home. If I were going to adopt a second dog, I would probably look into a rescue or shelter that had a foster-to-adopt program so we’d have some time to see if the new dog got along with Honey first.

    BTW, I won’t be sharing this post with my husband. It will just give him ideas. 🙂
    Pamela recently posted…Why Are Dogs Better Than Cats? – BTC4AMy Profile

    • Two dogs on a boat…I don’t think so. That’s a good option though foster to adopt. We brought Jack home to introduce him to Becca before we agreed to adopt him. He ignored her, just like he does with Maggie.
      mkob recently posted…Seven Fitness Habits of Fit People and Fit DogsMy Profile

  11. Great answers and list of things to consider. One other factor might be that a person would not be able to walk both dogs on leash at the same time (especially such big dogs). Then, a second dog would truly double the time needed for dog exercise!

    Our two Labs do play together a lot but it still barely makes a dent in how much outdoor exercise they need to be happy and healthy.
    KB recently posted…Sunlight and ShadowsMy Profile

    • Good point about the exercise – and not just whether the human can handle it – sometimes you have dogs with different needs. Our Becca could only do short walks when we first got Jack, but he needed LOTS of exercise, so I’d take her for a short walk and then have to take him for a long one. Time-consuming.
      mkob recently posted…Seven Fitness Habits of Fit People and Fit DogsMy Profile

  12. Great advice. Most shelters will allow a meet and greet with future sibling dogs.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…We Are #TeamDogMy Profile

  13. Labby those are such great reasons, I hope others read and take your advice. They need to think things through before rushing out to get animals, I think there would be far less animals ending up in shelters if people would think things through.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…How To Stay Fit In Cold Temps~Fitdog FridayMy Profile

  14. So true, so true – but I love the chaos of two. Harley and I are having many discussions lately about this same subject. We’ll keep you posted 🙂

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