Thursday, April 8, 2010

Double dog dare you: getting a second dog

Nothing beats the pure bliss of watching two dogs romp and play together. They seem inseparable. Where one dog explores, the other follows. They curl up together on their comfy beds into tiny balls so you can’t tell where one starts and the other stops. When they come to visit us at our kennel, double dogs are always happy – and that makes sense because they’re always hanging around, playing with their best buddy.

In single-dog families, you are their universe. You are the source of everything – including being their 24/7 live entertainment. At times, that’s great, and at other times, especially when they’re puppies or adolescents, it would be nice if some of their extra puppy energy would be burned off elsewhere. Enter, the second dog. After you’ve exercised and trained your dog, you can chill and watch your dogs run, interact and play. They can burn off more energy together in a half hour than you could ever give them in several hours – unless you’re into agility or other dog sports of course.

However, there is a secret dark side to double dogs. In addition to the extra space they take (think about two danes), double the hair and poo to clean up, and doubling your cost for food and veterinary bills (especially if both get serious, expensive medical issues), as with people, there can be personality issues – and those issues can turn into aggression and management problems. The most difficult problems seem to be with female/female and big/small dogs. Females can wrestle for dominance, and what would normally be a small scuffle between size-matched dogs can easily become deadly when yorkie and retriever sized dogs get into it. Another thing to watch for is getting puppies from the same litter. They’re awesome and adorably cute, but they can bond more with each other than with you.

Some believe that the ideal way to get a second dog is to get one, train it and bond with it, then get your second dog later. Compatible dogs include picking male/male or male/female rather than two females, and sticking to similar sizes. Once you’ve got two dogs, spend solo time exercising, training and bonding with each dog. If you already have a big and small dog, watch their dynamics, and possibly separate them when you’re not there to supervise them.

Personally, I’m really big on double dogs. I love living with Daisy and Buddy. Every now and then they still get on each other’s nerves – usually over a really, really tasty treat – but knowing that helps me manage around it.

If you’re interested in this topic, here are a few more resources:


  1. I came for the awesome pictures of Great Pyrs but I stayed for the sage advice. ;)

    We're wrestling with this one right now in our house and there's lots of good food for thought here.

  2. Thanks FW -

    The two gorgeous pyrs are Alex and Mabel. They are sooooo affectionate - and inseparable, so you get double the love :)


  3. I love the name Mabel...
    But aside from that, what a great post. Our house has always had two (or more) dogs. Currently we are at three permanent, one foster, and they all get along wonderfully, but a lot of that has to do with introductions, and knowing the temperament of your dog, and it helps to know the temperament of the dog coming in.