« Back

When is the best time to welcome another dog?

14/09/2021 - Training

We have always been a nation of animal lovers but the surge in dog ownership seen since the pandemic began is unprecedented. I wanted to address a common question about owning more than one dog as it is important to get this right if you want a harmonious home and happy pets.

Multiple dog ownership

People often ask me when it is the right time to get a second (or even third or fourth) dog. My answer is: “When your existing dog is where you want it to be when it comes to training, sleeping and behaviour.”
If that sounds a little like the answer to ‘how long is a piece of string’, that’s probably because it is! In reality, there’s no right or wrong answer but, in order to give your new dog the attention it is likely to need, you really want your existing dog to have mastered the basics and be able to cope with a slight reduction in attention.
In my experience, it’s likely that this point comes when the dog is around 2 years old but, of course, this can vary hugely depending on the dog’s temperament, breed, and any specific issues such as separation anxiety or reactivity that it may experience.

What to consider

The thing to consider is that you will have half the time once you have two dogs (and reduce this accordingly when you are considering your third or fourth addition) and having two is more than double the commitment. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t necessarily walk both together as they may need different things from their exercise, so you’ll need to practise walking them each separately AND together. Feeding times are likely to take place at the same time but you will have to keep the dogs and their food separated until they are well used to staying in their own lane….
Another common worry – which leads to people mistakenly taking on an extra pet, is that their lone dog needs company, especially if they are out at work. This isn’t necessarily the case as new dogs can often take on the troubles of the first/existing, sometimes the two dogs don’t get along and you will find you have opened an impossible can of worms.
One important factor is to consider is your existing dog’s character, temperament and preferences – not all dogs will tolerate living alongside a canine friend and many prefer their own space and having the humans all to themselves.

What might go wrong?

It’s so important to consider all these things when you are thinking of getting an additional dog because, if things go wrong, the outcome is often heartbreaking. Imagine being in a position where you have to give up your new dog, or where one of them is injured because they’re fighting. This is not a pleasant decision to have to make so please make sure you do your homework and try your dog out with other animals in your home first. Maybe you have friends with a dog who could come and stay the night to test things out?

What next?

Before you go any further in your search for a new dog, try a few things:
  • Check your existing dog is where you want them to be with sleeping, toilet training, behaviour, recall, chewing (or lack of!)
  • Arrange for your dog to spend time with another well-known dog on walks, in the garden and building up to visits in the same house (this is potentially very different to being well socialised outside the home when the dogs are then on neutral ground)
  • Ask your trainer or a friend with multiple dogs to get the real low down on having more than one dog. If they know you, your dog and your lifestyle well they’ll be able to give tailored advice.
Hopefully this blog has provided some food for thought when it comes to increasing your pet dog numbers. Above all, take your time and do your research before committing. 
If you think you'd benefit from a chat with one of our trainers you can book a virtual support call