Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?

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Dear Labby

Dear Labby

Dear Labby,

I have one dog – a wonderful mixed breed, but mostly lab/pittie that we rescued from the local shelter. I’d like to adopt another dog, but we wonder and worry about having two dogs and how they will get along. I’ve heard some horror stories about dogs not getting along. What tips can you give us to help me make the decision and pick out the right sibling?

Two Dog Hopeful

Dear Hopeful,

Of course you can get another dog! Bravo for wanting to adopt another – there are so many out there needing homes. And besides, having more than one dog is twice the fun SlimDoggy says! There are a few things you should take into account. Here’s a few things we thought about and I open this up to our readers as many have multiple dog families.

  1. Understand your current dogs personality & their reaction to other dogs to gauge how easily another dog will fit into your existing ‘pack’. For instance, when we adopted Becca, our dog Tino was old and blind – it wouldn’t have been fair to him for us to get a puppy! Instead we got an older, sedate, former service dog. They got along famously.
  2. Be sure that YOU have the time and energy to care for another dog. It’s faulty logic to think that two dogs will ‘tire each other out’. Dogs need more than just playtime 24/7. They need structured activities and learning exercises – just like kids. And two dogs means double the time to do that work.
  3. Be sure to pick a dog with the right energy for your household and your current pet. This is similar to #1, but the other side of the adoption. Know as much about the dog you are adopting as you can and either accept the behavior challenges they might have or look elsewhere if the dog is not the right fit. Cute and cuddly is wonderful, but it wears off fast in the light of day if the dog is bouncing off the walls or tormenting your cat. When we adopted Jack, I looked at several dogs before him and while they were all loves, I wanted a dog who would be willing and able to run with me. Even though Jack was overweight, I knew he was an ox and would soon shed the extra weight and join in the family running.
  4. Another dog also costs more, be sure the financial expenses are within your reach.

Having dog’s that are compatible is critical or at least optimal. If they like each other and play with each other, even better, but there’s no guarantee. Sally loved to play, but she rarely played with Tino – not exactly sure why – I think she might have just preferred to play with us. But look at these two guys – SlimDoggy friends Mojo & Gypsy…they are truly best buds.

Mojo Gypsy buddy collage 2

Here’s a few additional sources you can read for some added insights:
What to Consider Before Getting a Second Dog
Does Gender Matter when Adopting a Second Dog?
Should you get a second dog?
Coping with canine rivalry

How about you readers? I know many of you have more than one dog – what advice do you have for Hopeful?


Our Dear Labby column is usually a little of this and a little of that, so we happily join our friends at 2 Brown Dawgs for This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop!

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  1. We just told Misty the alpha Poodle that we were getting pets for her to dominate. It’s worked out.
    jan recently posted…The Poodle catMy Profile

  2. Fantastic post. Very clear and such great points. I didn’t know any of that when I adopted Kayo when I already had Lucky. They did along wonderfully but Lucky was already seven when I adopted Kayo and she got annoyed by the puppy energy very quickly. One thing I was scared about was the myth that dogs of the same gender would try to fight each other for pack leadership and my personal experience was that that was not true at all. It truly is double the work – for awhile I had to walk them separately, feed them separately and train them separately…that was rough. Your fourth point is the only barrier between me and another dog right now. But I can’t wait until I can get another! Thanks for an awesome post!
    BoingyDog recently posted…First Florida Juvenile Detention Therapy Dog Gets to WorkMy Profile

    • The same gender can be a concern, but it’s really all in how you train/work with them. Lots of people have same gender packs, and if you want three dogs…well there’s only 2 choices!
      Slimdoggy recently posted…Wordless Wednesday 7-17-13My Profile

      • Do you have any posts related to that? I’d like to learn more. I’ve read things going both ways and had several people tell me it’s not likely with today’s domesticated dogs, then a few tell me it can definitely happen. I’d definitely like to learn more – I’ll put it on my research list!
        BoingyDog recently posted…First Florida Juvenile Detention Therapy Dog Gets to WorkMy Profile

        • We don’t have any other posts related to this and the links in the article aren’t specific to gender related issues. I think having two males can be a handful – especially if you have a female, and I’ve always heard two females is a problem. I have one of each…but I look around at our blogger friends and I see same gender packs all over (Emma & Katie, Leroy & Sherman, Rodrigo, Sydney & Blue, Jeffie, Rudy & Rosie, 2 Brown Dogs, etc.) so it can be done. I’ll do a little more research into the gender equation and see what I find.
          mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  3. Great tips! When we’ve added an adult dog to our pack, we do make sure the dogs are closely supervised for a few days when they’re all together (just in case of problems.)
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Threshing with Draft Horses: A Farm StoryMy Profile

  4. Excellent advice. Hopefully where ever you get the dog from will allow you to bring him/her home in a trail basis. πŸ™‚
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This β€˜N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Rescues usually will do that – and I’ve taken ours away from the house to meet for the first time so there’s no ‘territorial’ issues.
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  5. Great advice! My sister loves her friends so after Mom’s other dog passed on and Mom thought Katie did not like being an only dog, three years later, I came on the scene. She thought Katie would be ecstatic but she was not. Depression hit her immediately, she hated me. We put her on some natural doggy Valium for a week and after that everything was wonderful. You just never know how a dog will react or if you think you know, you may be surprised but there are lots of ways to cope and make everyone into a happy family.
    emma recently posted…A Snoopy Lesson | GBGVMy Profile

    • Emma, how could anyone not love you? I bet Katie just kind of liked getting all of mom’s attention.
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  6. Great advice labby! We tell our clients who what to get another dog to meet that dog in a neutral spot and see how the dogs get along. Do a little trial period by letting them get to know each other in a neutral spot. Make sure you pick a dog that likes other dogs but isn’t too young or hyper that is “clingy” and not wanting to leave other dogs alone. Having 2 dogs can be done you just have to put some time and research into your decision. Asking Dear Labby for advice was a great start and they gave you great advice now time to look around.
    joann stancer recently posted…This β€˜N That ThursdayMy Profile

    • Thanks for the input. Trial periods and neutral spots for intros are real important I think.
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  7. I was also going to bring up the gender issue, but wasn’t really sure if that was an old wives tale or not. When we had one of each, they got along famously. Then when we ended up with two of each, most of the issues seemed to be between the two girls and the two boys. So our experience says it could be an issue, but then as you said there are exceptions to every rule, such as Emma and Katie. the other thought I had was also brought up by joanne….that the introductions could also be important, letting them meet on neutral ground, etc.
    We love having multiple dogs, and I don’t think we would ever go back to having just one. When we have to leave them, to go to work, etc., we feel far less guilty if they are not completely alone.
    Jan K recently posted…Blog the Change for Animals – A Call To ArmsMy Profile

    • We’ve always had one of each, so don’t have much experience with same sex. I’ve had friends who have had same sex, some with great results, some without – so I think it’s a crap shoot and up to the training.
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  8. We were a one dog family for YEARS. I don’t know why we only had one. But now that we’re a two dog family? I don’t think we’ll ever do it any other way. The two dogs are more money and more work (shedding twice as much), but they occupy each other’s attention the way we can’t. They’re best friends. They groom each other. And they play together in the yard. And when the duck is attacking one dog, the other runs interference, or just runs inside when the duck’s not looking.
    Flea recently posted…Animals That Don’t Belong in the HouseMy Profile

    • It’s always good to have a pal – especially one that runs interference – that’s so funny!
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  9. Great advise. I think gauging the personality of the current dog is key. My Wheaten is 11 yrs old and cannot handle “in your face” kind of dogs like most puppies are so I am adopting another 10 yrs. old that has a fairly similar personality. The determining which gender to get is imperative and a lot of owner do not give particular attention to that. For example, Wheatens are notoriously famous for not being good housed with dogs of the same gender. So, I knew when it was time to adopt again, it had to be a boy. Awesome post!
    M.A. recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday: Preparing for the Arrival of my New BrotherMy Profile

  10. Excellent advice πŸ™‚
    Misaki recently posted…hot thursdayMy Profile

  11. I currently have just one dog. Previously though I had two at the same time – a yellow lab and a german shephard. They grew up together and were inseparable, literally. The yellow lab would bark and be very confused if we ever took him somewhere without the other dog, so they were always together, until the yellow lab died of natural causes and the german shephard grieved hard for six long months. I always wondered what their personalities would have been like if they had been the only dog, since it was obvious that their behaviors were strongly shaped by each other. It seemed difficult at times to share my love between them… I called it the “two-headed-dog syndrome” because every time I’d pet one of them, the other would nudge in there for love too. I’ve often considered getting another dog to add to my current situation, but I’m too afraid of how it might change the relationship with my current dog. I’m content for now to just spoil my one dog to death!

    • Nothing wrong with having just one dog – easier on the budget and if your are both happy, that’s what counts. I think I just like the extra company πŸ™‚
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  12. This is an excellent post. When we added Cooper (he’s our 3rd, but I think the same rules apply) it worked perfectly because we knew Lucas feels threatened by large adult males… Cooper was a non-threatening teeny tiny puppy, and they took to each other right away. Knowing his personality helped us find just the right baby. As you pointed out, knowing your dog is so important. That being said, it’s also important to give them time! It’s unlikely that a new pup and your existing dog will be besties right away, so it does take patience and lots of positive interactions and training.
    Maggie recently posted…Idiopathic head tremorsMy Profile

    • Great point about giving it time…sometimes it’s just patience and perseverance πŸ˜‰
      mkob recently posted…Sibling Rivalry or Sibling Love?My Profile

  13. Great post!! Sometimes people forget to take in account the added expense. Sometimes it’s more than just 2 or 7 dogs getting along! lol
    Christine and Riley recently posted…This ‘n That Thursday #2: The Little ThingsMy Profile

  14. Dogs are pack animals the more the merrier! Don’t forget to check out my giveaway! Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Dolly’s Having a Fabulous Giveaway!My Profile

  15. Great advice, I’m not sure if this was mentioned but most rescues/shelters will give you the opportunity to have the two dogs meet to see if they get along. It’s also a great way to introduce on fairly neutral territory.
    Jodi recently posted…This β€˜N That Thursday – July 18, 2013My Profile

  16. Great advice today Labby…While most dogs are happy to have a live-in playmate some just won’t adapt & that needs to be considered, along with the added time, effort and expense
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Thankful for a HaikuMy Profile

  17. I was an only dog for several years, then my person decided it would be good for me to have a sister. We met at the park first, then she came over to visit, and then she moved in. I never had a problem with her – although for the first several months we pretty much just ignored each other, in a very friendly way. But after snuggling in the car, playing at the park and just living with her (and smelling her) every day for over a year now, I have to admit I like having a sister. We snuggle in the car; I chase her around the living room; she steals my toys (I let her do this); and we sometimes ignore each other in a very friendly way. We are both girls and we are fine with it. Granted, I am not the jealous sort. My person is allowed to pet other dogs and I am allowed to lick other faces. We are both secure enough in our relationship for that!
    Belle recently posted…Happy 4th of July Everyone!!My Profile

    • Sounds like a good mature relationship Belle. Sisters aren’t too bad – I think they can be fun sometimes.
      mkob recently posted…Fitness Tips for Hunting DogsMy Profile

  18. That’s good advice. Mojo and Gypsy look really happy together.
    Clowie recently posted…My favourite indoor gamesMy Profile

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