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Friday, 4 March 2011

Should I get a second dog?

I have a three year old Jack Russell spayed bitch who I have had since a puppy and who stays with a friend on a farm when I'm at work all day and then she's at home with me in the evenings and on my days off. I will be moving house shortly and as a result, she won't be going to the farm anymore and she will be alone some mornings for three to four hours. I was thinking of getting another dog of similar type but I'm worried that it might upset her and selfishly I'm worried that another dog will change our relationship. Please may I ask for the experience of others about getting a second dog.
Many thanks
Yvonne Rigby-Jones

It's always difficult knowing what the dynamic will be like when you have two. My two dogs play with each other and love each other (spayed female entire male), but it's probably true that if they were single dogs they would be more human focused. People say two females are more likely to fight. I think you need to observe how your dog interacts with others as to whether she'd welcome some canine company. Plus if you are out for 3-4 hours you would struggle housetraining a pup without some help.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor


  1. Why are you thinking of getting a second dog if you are having doubts? If it is for company for your first dog, then being alone for 3-4 hours a day should be no problem for most dogs if you introduce the idea sensibly.

    I have 3 dogs and they very rarely play with each other which is exactly how I like it because I want to be each dog's chosen playmate. I love all my dogs, but sometimes I wish I had only one - the time I have for training and playing has to be split between three dogs, plus it's a lot easier to go out to interesting places when you have only 1 dog. I end up having to choose which dog to take with me, and which to leave behind - so I had to have 3 so the one left behind is not alone...

  2. It's a good idea to list the pros and cons. Presumably in this case your main motive is to keep your other dog company. Sometimes this can work very well, but I have seen cases where a dog is very human-focused and the presence of another dog does not replace that when the owner is absent. I have also seen cases where the second dog simply is not as easy-going as the first dog and causes their own set of problems! Other 'cons' can be that it's more work for you, more costly and the dogs may not get along. Your dog may simply not enjoy sharing the resources they have always had to themselves in the past, including your time and company! Sometimes you are additionally dealing with dogs that distract each other and therefore can be harder to manage. The 'pros' are that it may be a great outlet for your dog, and for you. Personally, I like to have more than one dog - one male, one female, or two castrated males. I am very careful to pick compatible dogs. They love to play with one another and I train them separately to ensure they are both responsive to me. Take a wider view so that your decision will be based on all possible outcomes. In that way you can be prepared and make the best choice available.

  3. It has to be a very good match or you will probably regret it. The neutered male-spayed female combination usually works the best. Our 4 year old male Great Dane loves his newly adopted Dane sister who is now 3. Both are calm but she has a crazy side too.
    It took her a little time to learn the ropes. He is a great role model. I think she was crated so she went a little crazy at first. I think they like having company even if they are not always playing they do wait for each other and lay together in same rooms. She will open doors for him and he will wait for her on
    walks as she investigates.
    Try a rescue they will usually let you take a dog and return it if its really a bad fit. They
    observe and will give you alot of background info. I would not get a puppy. Too much work.