Tips for Choosing a Second Dog

Sometimes dog parents love their role so much that they decide to get another four-legged family member. This decision may either multiply the joy of pet parenting or turn out to be a disaster. So, what are the main things to consider when choosing a second dog?

Age, breed, and size 

Some dog parents believe that getting two dogs of the same age or even two puppies from the same litter will prevent their pets from ever getting bored. Well, in one way they’re correct. The dogs probably won’t ever get bored because they’ll start to compete with each other by the age of two. These competitions may be very rough. In this case, dog parents will be stuck with the endless task of preventing fights, while the dogs themselves have the endless entertainment of starting them. Bringing the two similarly-aged pups to reconciliation is not an easy task. It’s best to keep an age difference of about five years between your dogs.

If you’ve got an adult dog and you decide to get a puppy, the chances of success are quite high. However, there are still some important points to consider.

second dog puppy

If you have a dog of a small breed, and you get a puppy of a larger breed, everything can go well. However, if your adult dog is tiny (like a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire Terrier), you should keep an eye on your youngster so that he doesn’t hurt his older friend during their games.

If you have an adult dog of a large breed and you want to get a puppy of a small breed, be sure in advance that your older furry friend treats tiny dogs well. Otherwise, he may consider a newbie to be his prey and even kill them.

Dogs of the same size are very unlikely to hurt one another even during the roughest games. 

Please take the breed characteristics into consideration. While “wild-spirited” primitive dogs such as Huskies find it difficult to be a part of a family pack, human-oriented Golden Retrievers fit in pretty quickly.

Male or female?

Many canine experts advise getting two dogs of the opposite sex. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. Besides, if your dogs are not spayed or neutered, you will have to think about how to isolate your pets from each other when your female goes into heat twice a year.

It may also be true that dogs of the same sex are more prone to fighting. Many people think that two females will get along better than two males. However, this is not entirely true. Female dogs are more likely to engage in conflict with each other, and their fights tend to be more serious.

second dog male

Keep in mind that a female doesn’t perceive a neutered male as a male. She sees him as another female, but of a lower status. That’s why a female treats him accordingly.

Living space

First, all dogs need personal space. Second, your dogs may compete for particularly attractive and interesting places, for example, proximity to your favorite chair or to the dining room.

The lack of living space may become a great source of stress for your pets. 

This stress may result in various diseases, including gastritis and cystitis, and problem behaviors such as house soiling, excessive barking, and aggression. 

Two dogs in one house: a formula 

Sophia Baskina, an ethologist and canine behavior specialist, came up with a formula that will help you understand whether or not to get a second dog, and the chances of a happy life together.

Of course, this formula is not a guarantee of success but it increases the chances of it. 

Let us consider the following example. Imagine that we have a 5-year old Labrador and a 3-year old Husky. How likely are they to become friends?

How to count? First dog (points) Second dog (points)
Age  1 point for each year 5 3
Origins A primitive breed: +1 point
A human-oriented breed: -1 point
-1 +1
Sex Male: +1 point
Female: -1 point
Neutered or spayed dog: -1 point
+1  -1
How the dog appeared in your house The dog was born in your house: +2 points
The dog was the first to appear in your house: +1 point
+1  0
Health condition Illness: -1 point
Disability: -2 points
0 0
Total  6 points 4 points

The lower the difference in points, the higher the chances for conflicts. Behavior correction in this case may not be very effective.

If the difference is 2 points, as in our example, then behavior correction could still be successful. However, you should organize the space for your dogs responsibly. 

If the difference is 3 points or more, even in conflict situations, proper behavior correction will help you team up your pets.

Choosing a second dog is an extremely important matter, as you are responsible for those who already live in your house. Sometimes it is better to give up the idea of getting a new pet, rather than making both your own life and the life of your dogs unbearable.

If you’ve made a final decision to get a second dog, watch our video on how to introduce a new dog to the dog that already lives in your home. 

February 26, 2021

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