I have always had two dogs at any one time. When the senior dog is 10 or 11 years old, I get a puppy. The older dog teaches the puppy how to be a dog, what behavior is appropriate behavior with other dogs and what is not. This works very well for me. But I am a trainer and I understand that I must maintain my existing relationship with my older dog while building a strong individual relationship with the puppy.
There are many multi-dog households that work well, and dogs really do enjoy the company of other dogs. But before you get another dog, ask youself “WHY”? Why are you getting that dog? Is your current dog pestering you for attention or you don’t have time to play with your current dog? And by getting a second dog your current dog will have a “playmate” and you will be off the hook? Be honest!
Many people get a second or third dog for this reason, and it makes sense to a certain degree, but there can be problems.
If your dogs are spending their days playing and associating with one another exclusively, they may bond with one another and not with you. This can be highly problematic.
We want our dogs to bond with us, to look to us as their social group leader and to do this we have to make sure that we build strong, individual relationships with each dog.
I have seen multiple cases where dogs within a household have bonded with the other dog in the house, and not the humans. They get their confidence from the other dog. If you try to separate the dogs they fall apart emotionally. They literally cannot function away from the other dog. This can turn into a real nightmare.
The way to avoid this is to build strong relationships with each dog in the house through regular, individual training and enrichment outside of the household (also known as socialization). We want our dogs to get their confidence from us. We want them to choose us over another dog.
The goal of my business is to get dogs and people on the same page and to help people build these strong and rewarding relationships with their dogs so you can enjoy life together. Before you bring a second or third dog into your home I hope you will think about it carefully before hand and really question your motivation for doing so. Great owners create great dogs and it takes work. Is it worth it? Absolutely.