When should you get a second dog?
A few months ago I talked about the journey to multiple dogs – How many dogs should you have? but I think it is useful to focus again on the timing of getting a second dog, following a couple of enquiries I have had this week. Two lovely people have contacted me saying that they have a dog aged 13/14 and are thinking about getting a puppy. The first person had only ever had one dog and was now considering a second. This was my reply.
Bringing in a second dog
It’s such a challenge isn’t it, knowing when is the right time to get another dog. I look at Sunny, my eldest, who is nearly 12 – she did a couple of agility runs at the weekend (ones designed for old dogs I hasten to add!) but she skipped round so happily. However, she does run around with the other girls, every day, so is fit as a flea. I got her when Buzz was 8 and he was thrilled to have a companion; it gave him a new lease of life, definitely.
My previous girl, Rue, was 11 when I got Buzz as a pup and she was less than impressed. She never interacted with him and just ignored him in the main. I do know other people whose older dogs regularly ‘have a go’ at their younger ones. People I know have to keep old and young dogs apart, or muzzled; it can be as bad as that.
“I think what I’m trying to say, in the nicest possible way, is that it’s too late for you and your old girl, in my opinion. A rescue will come with its own issues, in my experience, which may well upset your girl considerably. A puppy is just annoying! If she already has arthritis she won’t want to be bounced on and won’t be up for a game of chase, for example. You will have two dogs with very different needs and will be really torn with how to manage them.
“I think it is likely you will be wanting to get a puppy in a few years’ time. Sorry not to be more enthusiastic, I am just thinking of your old girl and what is best for her.”
When you have had two dogs
The second enquiry was from someone who had lost one of her two dogs a few months ago and wanted to get a replacement of him. When two dogs have grown up together and always had each other it can be upsetting for the remaining dog to be alone. They are used to the greater activity level of being together and the companionship of each other.
Once again, I would exercise caution. I think that despite the loss of their companion, an older dog would rather remain on their own with their family than have to cope with a new dog. Dogs are like people; they are adaptable. And if the owner is older, then the pace of life is generally slower all round, which suits the dog far better.
The ideal age?
What is the right age to introduce a second dog? I was always a great believer in small age gaps, so that there is a closer bond and more playtime. My brothers and I are close in age and there is only 18 months between my sons.
As is so often the case, this theory has not been borne out. There are three and a half to four years between Sunny and Luna, Luna and Busy, and Busy and Ounce. Aura is the ‘odd one out’ as she is between Luna and Busy. My original plan had been to keep a girl from Luna’s second or third litter, but the best laid plans and all that!
Aura is a special girl, but she is demanding! She was extremely jealous of Busy when I kept her and still struggles to get the attention she thinks she deserves. My conclusion is that 18 months to 2 years is too small a gap.
Four years now seems about right. I have lots of friends with various dogs and they seem to agree, on the whole.
Other alternatives to a second dog
There are a couple of alternatives is you want another dog but it’s not quite the right time. One is to put your dog into doggy day care, or simply to get a dog walker. That way, they will have regular, prolonged interaction with other dogs.
The second is to use a service like Borrow My Doggy which allows you to lend your dog out to other families, or have other people’s dogs to stay with you. More information about why borrowing a dog might be better than owning one can be found in this article.
Finally, I just want to give a quick mention here to The Cinnamon Trust who do amazing work to support the elderly with their pets.
If you are buying a dog, start by looking at the What Dog? page, then contact me? Part of this service is that I will provide a form for you to fill in. This acts like a CV, enabling you to demonstrate who you are clearly to other breeders.
Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs? And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think. If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME? Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.