Question 7: When is the right time to get another dog?
One or two – which is easiest?
I think there are a number of factors to consider when thinking about a second dog.
- Much nicer for the first dog to have a companion. Unless they are like my first one and don’t really like other dogs, most will much prefer to have another dog to interact with regularly.
- Less separation anxiety. Usually, multiple dogs won’t mind being left and are less likely to be destructive. However, sometimes one dog will teach another the bad behaviour :-/
- Easier to train. The second dog does learn from the first and will therefore come back more easily, or learn basic commands. However, there can be problems with this as well…
- I would never sell two puppies to one home. They play together all day long and are very ‘self-contained’. This means that it is really hard to get their focus and to have a bond with them as individuals. You absolutely have to take them out separately, every day and train them up to have any hope of controlling them and even then, they will easily ‘gang up’ and run off. Similarly, two dogs close in age can be a challenge, which needs careful management.
- As I’ve said, not all dogs get on. When bringing a puppy home, the first dog can be jealous and grumpy, snapping at the puppy when it tries to play. This needs to be carefully managed and sometimes the older dog never gets over it. Many people give up after a while and return the puppy, because they realise that it is just making the other dog miserable.
- Two dogs is twice as much work – at least. Twice the hair, twice the poo, twice the mud, twice the chewing etc. If you have more dogs, you need to cope with a dirty house or really love cleaning!
Build it up slowly..
Start with one dog. Most people do, anyway. I started with a ‘rescue’ of sorts, as she was re-homed by my mum, aged 8. When she was 11 years old, I got a puppy. Rue wasn’t that impressed, she was too old and set in her ways. She didn’t want to play, or mother him and she had preferred being an only dog.
Buzz was fine on his own for a few years – I liked having just one dog again. Easy to transport, less to worry about, not so expensive etc. When he was 8 years old, I got Sunny. He was thrilled! Bless him, he adored her. Such a contrast to Rue. Sunny was never that fussed about him, but of course she never knew any different.
When Sunny was three years old, I kept Luna. Now I had three dogs – aged 11, 3 and a pup. However, by that stage I was used to working around dogs and family life. I was my own boss and could manage myself and my dogs pretty well. I remember when Luna was a few months old they caught a rabbit between them – Luna flushed it, Sunny chased it and Buzz caught it. He was a great rat-catcher too. That was when I started to realise that three dogs is a pack. Harder to transport and manage, more work all round.
I had always planned to keep a pup from Luna’s litter, which meant that two years later I suddenly found I had FOUR dogs – oops! Sadly, this was for a short time only, as by this stage Buzz was riddled with arthritis and in constant pain, despite strong medication. Within a few months I was back down to three – much more manageable. By this stage I was a ‘breeder’ and knew that I would end up with more dogs eventually. Now I have FIVE and I LOVE IT!
How many is too many?
I once rejected a home for a puppy because they had ten dogs already, in a small house and garden. I know that many people probably think that five is far too many, but over the last few years I have become friends with many ‘dog people’ and I now know lots of people with lots of dogs! In fact in my book group, which has nine members, we own 23 dogs (and two people don’t have any 😉 )
Personally, I think it comes down to space, money and time. You need at least two of these, in my opinion, to cope with lots of dogs. I also feel that having plenty of dogs is absolutely fine, as long as they are all in with you, not kept in runs in the garden. However, most breeders end up with dogs piled up in crates or out in runs for some of the time.
You need the right number of dogs for your life. I know that now. Now that my sons are grown up, my dogs are my life and therefore I need quite a few. Lucky me.
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