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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Is two company?


I noticed in Dogs Today's listings for rescues that some dogs are listed as preferring to be the only dog in a household. My question is, how is that assessed?

I ask because I am thinking of adopting a second rescue. At the moment, I have a 3-year-old collie cross (border jack) who is alone a fair bit, perhaps 20 hours over the course of a week, but rarely more than 4 hours a day. He gets 3-4 miles of walks a day, plus 3-4 short play sessions of around 10-15 minutes (all with me, as I am single). My thinking is he might like company both when he is alone in the house and also a dog to run and play with when out on walks or in the garden. Of course I would enjoy a second dog as well!

My dog (neutered) is not aggressive with other dogs. On occasion I have seen him be possessive of a favourite toy and worry that with a second dog, he might get possessive of favourite articles or of me. If that happened, we could certainly work with it. But I would very much like to understand how rescue dogs are assessed for whether or not they are better suited to be the only dog in a household.

Yours sincerely,

Clare, by email

Lynn Barber, Dogs Trust Head of Training and Behaviour, advises...

The decision to rehome as an only dog is made for the dog’s best interest. They are often dogs that may find it stressful living with any other dog or could be a dog that has shown antisocial behaviour which hasn’t been improved with rehabilitation.

Generally Dogs Trust prefers our dogs to live with another dog or at least to be able to spend plenty of time in their company; they are after all very social animals. The vast majority of our dogs are kennelled in pairs and these dogs will then hopefully go on to live happily with another dog. However, some dogs are found to be more people orientated and that living as the only dog is better for them. The vast majority of our dogs will happily live with another dog.

For the assessment the dogs are introduced to a variety of dogs and their interactions, body language etc are scrutinised to allow us to learn as much about their social preferences as possible. When a Dogs Trust dog is rehomed with another dog we insist that the dogs met up in our presence so we can be assured that they will be friends for life.

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