Dear bark: My dog is getting older, he likes to play with other dogs and he doesn’t like to be left alone. I want him to have the best life possible, and I’ve heard that a dog buddy is key. Should I have a second dog? The thing is, I don’t know how I feel with two dogs.
Your goal of giving your dog the best possible life is adorableThe first thing I recommend is trying out a few ways that you can do this right away. People often wonder if I should get a second dog to keep my canine company? If your thoughts about another dog are primarily motivated by a desire to do what’s right for your current dog, there are other ways to do so.
Adding a second dog to your household is a big decision, and while I can share general suggestions and points to consider, only you can decide if this is the right thing for you. The best advice I can give you is this: only greet another dog in your life if you want one. The responsibility for caring for a new dog is yours and the decision should be based on what you honestly believe is ready and able.
As you know, dogs require a lot of time, money, and emotion. It is important for the entire household to agree on having a second dog, and reasons for adopting another dog should include more than a desire to make your current dog happy, even if they are well-intentioned and from the heart is. That said, don’t do it if your primary purpose is to fix a problem your current dog is having or to fill an absence in their life.
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If you’ve decided that you really want a different dog, here are a few factors to consider.
Are Dogs Happier With Another Dog?
Some dogs, including some older dogs, are happy to have a new dog in the family. I’ve seen older dogs enjoy new dogs many times, whether the new dog is an adult, a teenager, or a puppy. Sometimes the addition of a younger, more playful dog resuscitates an older dog. They get happier, more alive, and somehow more alive in their golden years, which is a beautiful thing.
On the other hand, I’ve also seen a lot of older dogs who don’t like sharing their space and people with a new dog. They end up irritated, and what should be a peaceful time in their life may be less calm because of too much harassment bothering them.
This is where looking at your dog’s perspective comes into play. How do you know what category your dog would be in? There’s no way you can know for sure, but there are clues to help you make your best guesses.
In general, if your dog enjoys playing with other dogs, likes to see them on walks, and has met many dogs that they have had positive encounters with, they are more likely to welcome a new dog. If he can easily get along with other dogs around his food and toys, that is also a good sign that he is enjoying a new dog.
If your dog briefly likes dogs and then is ready to get away, he may not have a different dog around the house all day every day. If he has arthritis or other chronic pain, it can also be physically uncomfortable for him to have a play partner all the time. If he objects to other dogs walking up to you, seeking your attention, or being petted by you, he may have trouble having another dog in the family. These potential problems aren’t deal breakers, but they do mean that once you’ve brought a new dog into the house, you’ll likely have more work to do. This can also mean that the dogs need to be separated in certain situations or for part of each day.
If you do decide to adopt a dog, choosing a dog that is compatible with your dog increases the chances of the addition to being beneficial. Two characteristics to consider are activity levels and play style. If your dog wants to play for five minutes a few times a day and the new dog wants to play whenever he is not sleeping, this is a challenge to his relationship. If your dog likes to wrestle and the new dog is all about chases, it will require more compromise and teamwork than if both of them like to pull, for example.
Age and height play a role in some cases, but they are not necessarily as important as other characteristics. Dogs of different ages and sizes can be best friends, but similarities in these categories can make it easier for them to build strong friendships.
And then there is gender. Millions of people have two female or two male dogs, but adopting a dog of the opposite sex is often recommended as it reduces the risk of fighting. While there is no clear evidence of how important gender could be in this situation, many behaviorists (including myself) anecdotally report that most of the worst cases of domestic fights tend to involve dogs of the same sex. When all things are the same, you should adopt a woman since you already have a man.
Your dog is lucky enough to have someone who cares so much about their happiness!