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Monday, 14 October 2013

Two's company

I have a two-year-old, very lively but timid, Golden Retriever dog.

I have been told that I should get another dog for him to play with and also help overcome his nervousness.

I thought maybe an older, calmer, smaller dog.

Does anyone have any advice?


Wendy, by email


  1. Introduce a second dog to your current dog on your property, in a calm atmosphere. Don't force them to interact, let them take their time. Make sure you choose a suitable breed if you choose a smaller breed. You should try and choose a dog that will not be too boisterous for your timid current dog, especially when they firstly meet and spend time together. An older, calmer, smaller dog seems a good idea.

  2. Do you think your dog would like another dog, or do you think you would like another dog?

    There is no need to get another dog - dogs are not a species that needs their own kind (which might be surprising), they are perfectly capable of forming bonds with other dogs, but they don't need them in the way some species of fish NEED to be part of a school of fish, some species of bird NEED to be part of a flock of birds.

    So do not feel guilt tripped into getting another dog, by the idea that your dog needs a canine companion. It might be better to see a dog behaviour expert to address his fears/timidity, before you go any further in thinking about another dog.

    If you do that and still want another dog, consider, would your dog like another dog in the house. Sure it would be someone to play with but, it would also be someone to share valuable resources with too - food, water, toys, treats, YOU... is your dog the sharing type? A lot are not.

    I share my home with six dogs, and I have to be brutally honest with you - most of them could take or leave the others. In fact, some of them would probably prefer to be only dogs, they would have to share nothing then, they would have my undivided attention, all day long!

    So maybe your dog would not mind living with another dog - bear in mind that the sort of dog you are thinking of here, smaller, older and ideally the opposite gender for best compatibility, is quite possibly not going to want to play with a young male dog.

    It is also very likely that the addition of a new dog will not cure the existing dogs problems - his fearful or timid nature will not have anything to do with the fact that he is an only dog, and so the addition of another dog is unlikely to fix this problem.

    I would spend some time thinking about what you think your dog would like in another dog, and what you would like in another dog, and what you will do if getting another dog does not solve the problem you currently have.

    If you think that getting another dog will at best, not be detrimental to your dog, ie, you have the time for both of them, even if their needs differ, your dog shows no tendencies towards resource guarding or active fear of other dogs, and you really DO want another dog for yourself, then there is no harm in looking around for the right dog.

    But don't be pushed into this, getting another dog might be really enjoyable for you both, but it is not likely to be the answer to your dogs current issues.

    Emma Judson - Canine Consultant

  3. Before making a decision I think you should try and address the problems. Would you be able to try some dog training classes? A good trainer could help your dogs confidence and it would also help you to see how your dog reacts to a variety of other breeds.