Should you get a second dog?

If you love being a pet parent, it's natural to consider doubling the fun. But should you get a second dog?

Everyone who’s ever had a dog, particularly first-timers, knows the scene. You’ve ridden out the storm of puppyhood, negotiated the emotional maze of adolescence, and are thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to double the loveliness and get a second dog?’

You imagine your pooch playing merrily (while you don’t have to) with a new pup or maybe a rescue. Outside, the sun is shining, people are spontaneously breaking into song and dance routines.

But the reality is less like a Disney musical. So, in case you’re considering doubling the fun, we’ve listed the more practical questions to ask yourself.

Will your current dog be happy? 

This is probably the most important question for most pet parents. And it’s a tricky one to answer. Your dog might love playing with other dogs but sharing their home – and your affections – with one might be a different story. There can be jealousy, the new dog could become dominant, or they just don’t click (read our guide on which dog breeds can live together). Or they could end up being as thick as thieves. 

Will you be happy?

Obviously, if your current dog isn’t happy, you won’t be. But what if they really get on with a new pal and they don’t pay you as much attention? When deciding if you should get a second dog, you have to ask yourself if you can handle less playtime and fewer cuddles. Twice the dog doesn’t necessarily mean twice the love. 

Can you afford a second dog? 

This is a far easier thing to judge but there are some key things to consider. You can look at how much your current dog costs (food, vet bills, etc), how much they cost as a puppy (if that’s what you’re thinking of getting), and add it to your current expenditure. It’s not quite a straight doubling – no two dogs are the same and some costs can be shared – but it’s a solid guide. Pet insurance by state can also vary depending on a host of factors so it pays to do your research here. If you have a particular breed in mind as well, a quick comparison for pet insurance costs for different breeds will pay off big time. Some desirable dogs will naturally cost more while certain pedigree breeds can cost a small fortune if you're looking to purchase your next pet from a specialist breeder.

How old is your dog? 

If your dog is getting old and you’re worried about the gap that will one day be left in your life, then it’s natural to consider getting a younger dog to help you cope when that sad time comes. And it’s not unknown for an older dog to get a new lease of life from a spritely pal. However, if your dog is still young, possibly still in training, they might not be ready.

Is your home big enough?

If your house is already feeling pretty full, then bringing in an extra body could be a mistake – especially if you like to share your couch on a Sunday evening. Remember, another dog is more than just a physical presence (albeit a very cute one), they’re a potential catalyst for a lot of running and playing and jumping that could make your space feel a lot smaller.

Are you trying to fix a problem with your current dog?

A good rule of thumb is: if your current dog has behavioral or emotional issues, then getting a second dog won’t fix them and could well make them worse. So don’t see this as as a cure for, say, separation anxiety or aggression. However, it’s a perfectly good reason to bring another dog into the home if you used to have two dogs and your current one is mourning their friend.

Do you have enough time? 

A second dog could well save you some time if they get on well with your current dog and they keep each other entertained (a real boon for anyone who works from home). But what if they don’t and you have to entertain both? And if your new dog needs training, do you have time to do that? What about grooming both dogs?

Can you handle the chaos?

Ok, chaos might be too strong a word but, should you get a second dog, you could end up with more mess (definitely more hair and poop), more noise (two dogs often make each other bark) and more madness. But you might also get a lot more entertainment

Can you physically cope?

Dogs and people come in all shapes, sizes and weights – and that can make things like walking, playing and grooming easier for some combos than others. So, before you decide to add a Doberman to your Bullmastiff, or even a Chihuahua to your Yorkie, consider whether you can handle it.

Do you travel with your dog?

Most pet parents like to take a vacation or visit family with their dogs. This can mean a road trip or flight, so make sure you can either fit Dog #2 into your car or afford an extra ticket in canine class.