Second dog or not?
February 13, 2012 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Should I get a second dog?

After adopting a gorgeous little pup a year and a half ago, I really want to get a second dog. I've always wanted one but this really kicked into high gear when there was news of 28 dogs in my state rescued from a dog hoarder a little over a month ago. Since then I've been thinking about it all the time. I really would like a second dog and I know my pup would love a playmate as well (he loves all other dogs).

There are a few circumstances that have made me think extra hard about this:

- I rent and don't own. I don't really see any problems with staying here as long as I want to and my landlord is fine with dogs, but it is not my own house.

- I have a pretty good sized house and an okay yard but the yard is not fenced. I live in the middle of the city, though in a residential area. I take my current dog out several times a day on a leash to go potty. We also either go on a walk or to the dog park most days. The place I would be adopting from is okay with non-fenced yards and I would be just as committed to the new dog as I am to my current dog on getting exercise. I also have a professional dog walker coming this week for a consultation - I am getting a dog walker to come 3 or more times per week for 30 minute walks while I am at work. One extra dog is no extra charge.

- I am concerned about walking two dogs at once. Is this going to be complicated? My current dog and my potential dog are around 20 pounds each.

I know a second dog will cost more but I'm not as concerned about that. I make okay money and I don't really do much with it (don't live an extravagant lifestyle). I buy high quality dog food already, but smaller dogs don't eat as much anyway. Plus I often will make my dog scrambled eggs or something like that so his diet is a little bit supplemented by (HEALTHY) human foods. Vet bills if something happens can be bigger but I have a few grand in savings.

I guess my main concern is my non-homeownership, lack of fenced yard and pottying and/or walking two dogs at once. I really really want to buy a home though and hopefully will be in my own home within a couple of years or at the very least, have moved to a rental house that has a fenced in yard.

My strong feelings on wanting another dog haven't wavered in the last month but I really want to make sure I am making the right decision. I don't have much of a concern about the dogs getting along since my dog loves all other dogs and the new dog was with lots of other dogs at the hoarder house.

I should say the one last thing that's bothering me. My family doesn't think I should get a dog. They say because "circumstances" aren't right and by circumstances, they mean that I don't own a home or have a fenced yard. I am in my mid-30s and can obviously do whatever I want but this kind of bums me out. They didn't want me to get my first dog either for the same reasons and now they love him to death. That's probably another Askme but I thought I'd put it out there.

Okay, now that I've written a book, I would appreciate any thoughts or input you might have. Thank you.
posted by and hey Charlie to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see any reason why not owning a home or having a fenced yard becomes any more of a problem with 2 dogs instead of 1. At least not in the scenario you've described.

For the double-walking thing, it shouldn't be too complicated esp. since the dogs are 20 lbs. I can't imagine that being an issue unless you are seriously weak or uncoordinated to the extreme, or the dogs both become crazed lunatics while walking on a leash.
posted by cairdeas at 5:23 PM on February 13, 2012

I have seen a local dogwalker walking 7 dogs, of various sizes, at once, so I don't think two is necessarily going to be a problem :)

The advice I've heard is to hold both leashes in the same hand - the dogs will sort themselves out and won't be able to pull you in opposite directions. Pet stores also sell couplers that attach to each dog's collar - then, you attach only one leash to the coupler.
posted by muddgirl at 5:25 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't own a home or have a yard. I live in an apartment. I have a chihuahua and a large bulldog, and I walk them both at the same time with minimal difficulty (the bulldog walks a lot faster than the chihuahua sometimes, but that's about it).

Caring for two dogs is not any more difficult than caring for one dog, in my experience. Plus, they entertain each other, and since we got the second dog three years ago, we worry less about the dog being sad all day while we're at work.

Also, two dogs playing with each other and cuddling is ridiculously cute and entertaining.
posted by erst at 5:25 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

"I am concerned about walking two dogs at once. Is this going to be complicated? My current dog and my potential dog are around 20 pounds each."

When I dogsit for my brothers, I walk a 25lb live-wire border collie mix and two 50lb lazy English bulldogs - it can get unintentionally funny at times, but I don't feel overwhelmed. Practice good leash habits and you should be golden.
posted by HopperFan at 5:29 PM on February 13, 2012

My sister got a 2nd dog to "be friends" with the first dog. It's a nightmare.
posted by thorny at 5:29 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with partner and I have two dogs, and it is not that much different from when we only had one...just twice the poop.

Plus, they are each other's best friends (turns out, they are not man's best friend). They even stick up for each other when bigger dogs hassle them.

We are renters, and this has never been an issue. I think, as long as they are properly trained, it doesn't matter where you live. Hell, my mom even likes having them spend the night at her freakishly clean house.
posted by AlliKat75 at 5:41 PM on February 13, 2012

In no particular order:

You sound like an excellent dog owner, and a second dog would be very fortunate to find its way to you.

A second dog is not twice the work; perhaps 10% more. Food and care costs are obviously more, but it sounds as though that's easily covered. Dogs as a species generally thrive in the company of another of their own kind.

Walking multiple dogs together is easy to learn. I walk two dogs with a combined weight of around 150 pounds multiple times a day. Teaching good leash manners will be important; it just makes walks so much easier.

Your family's opinion has no weight whatsoever. None.

In your situation, I wouldn't be doubting myself about getting the second dog so long as you can be reasonably certain that finding housing that allows two dogs will not be a problem down the line.

When I finally had a dog again, I knew with certainty within a week that I would adopt another. I still waited some months before I did, and have not ever regretted it. Two is far more than twice the love.
posted by vers at 5:43 PM on February 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

Where has the dog rescued from the hoarder been living since then, a foster home or a shelter? Just because a lot of dogs were living together doesn't mean they all got along, or that their personalities might change once they are out of that very stressful situation. You can probably get a better idea of temperament if the dog is currently in a private home, less so if the dog is currently in a shelter. Also, dogs from hoarders may not be in the best of health, and you want to make sure that new dog doesn't bring diseases with him or her.

That said, if everything checks out, and were I in your situation, I wouldn't hesitate one more second before adopting another one. You sound like the perfect new owner for one of those unfortunate dogs. Good luck to you and your future little pack. (I have four dogs, and one of the crowd is usually doing something silly, so we have no lack of entertainment here.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have two 30-lb dogs, rent, and it never occurred to me that it would be a problem.

I was hoping that getting a second dog would help the first be more socialized, but the first is completely neurotic and doesn't care for other animals, so that was kind of a bust. They don't fight, but they rarely play with each other either. They have a treat each other like roommates. The second has a great time with the cat, though.

I don't have any problem walking them together- they wear harnesses for walks and I use a leash coupler for them so they're both on the same leash. I do have a few issues with giving attention- if one is getting pets, the other one tries to squeeze in between us so she can get pets too. Apparently in my pet hierarchy, I'm not allowed to pet one with each hand- it's all or nothing with these two. But that's just my dogs. I grew up in a house that always had 1-2 dogs and this is the first time I've had problems with a pair.

Can you foster a dog with an option to adopt? It might be easier to make sure you and your current dog are compatible with new dog before making the commitment. And unless your family lives with you, they don't get a say. It sounds like you're a great dog owner, and as long as you make sure you and current dog are ok with new dog, I don't see why you shouldn't give another dog a home.
posted by dogmom at 6:00 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wanted a second dog and fostered a couple of dogs until I accepted that my dog does not want a canine sibling. He loves the cats but does not want another dog to move in. Peeing on the bed is a big hassle to deal with and a clear message.
Fostering is a great way to make sure the second dog is a good fit. It sounds like you are a great owner and a second dog would work well. Ignore your family..they have already been wrong once.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:36 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

We have 2 40 lbs dogs, very active mutts. We added the second dog when the first was about 3 years old. Everyone told us we were crazy (rent, no yard, etc). Its been totally fine. They wear harnesses on walks and there are times when they get tangled up but we taught them to walk nice. There was an adjustment from one to two dogs, not a big deal. Training two dogs at the same time can be tricky. Our older dog is a very good pupil and the new one is a bit of a goof so it can be frustrating but again, not a huge deal. They aren't best friends but they like each other enough that it works.
When we went to meet the second dog, we made sure to take our first dog to see how they got along. And the rescue INSISTED we do a foster to adopt just in case there were problems. Sometimes I feel like it is hard to make sure they both get plenty of affection and that we treat them fairly but they seem perfectly happy and well-adjusted. I say go for it!
posted by rachums at 6:37 PM on February 13, 2012

Walking 2 dogs is no big deal. No reason not to get another (get opposite sex to what you have now for best chance of success, same sex similar age is the worst combination in dogs), just remember to spend one-on-one time alone with each dog regularly.
posted by biscotti at 7:26 PM on February 13, 2012

The leash coupler is genius beyond what you'd predict.

I'm mulling over a similar question. My biggest concern is that there are places I can take my dog (big; high drive but well trained) where it would be kind of overwhelming to bring two dogs. For example, I drive a couple hours to visit my cousins every month or so, and I stay over at their house. As it is, their dog and my dog get along like a house on fire. It's a little chaotic, but we all enjoy it. In this case, me bringing two dogs seems like too much. This may not be a factor for you: there certainly can be a bigger effect with big dogs.
posted by manduca at 8:06 PM on February 13, 2012

We sorta accidentally got a second dog (rescued him and thought we would find him a new home, then got attached!). It is a ton more work, but I think it's mostly based on the fact that dog #1 is a total angel (12-year-old Corgi, well-trained) and dog #2 is a major brat (1-year-old terrier mix, poorly trained).

A few anecdotes:
- Walking the two isn't that terrible, and the major work is because #2 is not good on a leash (yet?). I keep both on my left side, with the brat next to me and the angel on the outside. Some people prefer one on each side. YMMV.
- There was some serious tension in the beginning, because #1 is very alpha and she was used to being an only child. She was actually pretty mean to him. Six months in, however, they are buddies and play together all the time - I actually think he has made her more active/healthy. She even will snuggle with him and lick him, which is beyond adorable.
- Since #1 is so much older and more established, I make sure that #2 knows that he is down below her in ranking. She gets treats and food first, always.
posted by radioamy at 7:46 AM on February 14, 2012

You sound like a great dog owner, and a second dog would be lucky to get you. I think it's a great idea to get another mutt. A few things to think about as you're going in:

Depending on the breed(s) involved, some dogs can just not gel with some other dogs. The second dog we adopted was a Malamute, a breed notorious for this, so we brought our first dog (a GSD mix) for a meet & romp before finalizing on the right second dog for us.

Consider space/breakables for indoor wrestling. I don't think the unfenced yard is a deal breaker, but it's been helpful for us to have a place to shove the dogs when they start getting rowdy with each other, yard or otherwise. Granted, we have 150 lbs of dog, and you'll have smaller dogs, but consider finding an area in your house that they'll be able to play-fight without ruining stuff.

Talk to the org you adopt from to get an idea of the dog's strengths and weaknesses, and try to balance that out with your current dog. Our GSD is very high energy and Very Alert for potential intruders and/or squirrels, so we wanted a more placid dog to balance that out, rather than feeding that energy with more energy. (When the GSD sounds the alarm, the Malamute will pad over to take a look, but he never really gets what the big deal is.) The GSD, on the other hand, is very confident in new and unusual circumstances, which has helped reassure our (formally abused) Malamute when he gets nervous about new people or places or things.

I'm not a fan of couplers, since I think it encourages dogs to pull on leashes (since they can easily pull the other one over in order to reach a new smell), but YMMV. There's a product called AlphaPac that's made for hands-free two dog walking that I love to use when I go out jogging - otherwise we just stick to two leashes.

Be ready for some tensions in the first week to month as each dog figures the other out. If you can adopt the dog over a long weekend or when you have a couple of days of vacation, that'd be useful so you can monitor interactions - especially with food/water, toys, and attention from you.

I really think most dogs do better with a second canine around - and it's fantastic to see the bond they form. If you're feeling up for the slightly increased workload (~25%), then I say go for it.
posted by Gori Girl at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2012

When I got a second dog, I wasn't prepared for the change in daily routine. The second dog had to get used to the routine, and it was rough going for awhile. Each of my dogs has their own crates, and I feed them on opposite sides of the kitchen. I wouldn't say my dogs love one another or are buddies; husky was going on 6, and boxer was just under 1 yr old when he came to live with us. They are both people dogs, not dogs' dogs. But now they are both lazy, one being very senior (13) and the other middle aged.
posted by cass at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I got the puppy! It's hard to get him to sit still for pictures but I did manage to get one. He's a very sweet boy and is adapting very well to a whole new world. Before he got to the shelter he had been confined to a house his entire life with 27 other dogs, had never been outside or seen people other than his owners. So everything is very new to him. Now I'm just trying to think of a name, any suggestions will be considered! Thank you all for your great responses, they were all very helpful!
posted by and hey Charlie at 12:28 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ohhh the cuteness!!! I suggest "Panda."
posted by cairdeas at 12:39 PM on February 20, 2012

He's adorable -- congratulations!

Lucky might be an appropriate name. For some reason, Lancelot also springs to mind.

Wishing you many happy years together!
posted by vers at 5:22 PM on February 21, 2012

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