Pet’s Best Friend – Tips to consider when adding a second pet

By Dana Grove, The Brandon Sun, Manitoba, Canada

Two dogsHaving a pet can bring so much joy to our lives. It is almost inevitable that at some point, you begin to wonder if having two might be even better.

If you are considering a second dog — here are a few things to ponder.

Why Have You Decided to Get a Second Dog?

This is a very important thing to consider and can impact the pet you choose considerably. For example, some families want a second dog that is more interactive and will play better with their kids. Others are seeking a larger dog to make them feel a little safer. Or perhaps, you own a high energy dog and want a playmate that can keep up! Before you begin looking, it is important to sit down and determine how you want your second dog to fit into your family.

What Characteristics are Important to You?

Many families seek out a dog based on breed profiles or a “look” they like. While the Internet is a wonderful resource, there are also a number of websites out there that provide information that isn’t necessarily accurate. If you are researching breeds, be sure to take note of the sources you are getting the information from. Is this a professional association or a Wikipedia article? Other great resources include veterinarians, animal rescues and registered breeders.

If you aren’t entirely sure what you want, sometimes the best approach is to consider the characteristics you want in a pet, and looking for a dog that “fits” those characteristics. Animal rescues can be an amazing resource for matching people and pets, and can help direct you to dogs that fit those traits you are seeking in a companion.

What Will “Fit” Your Family?

It’s very important to consider the characteristics you want in a second dog, but it is equally important to consider how this dog will fit into the family. Do you have children? Other pets? Are you on an acreage or living in the city? How much physical activity can you commit to? How experienced are you with animals? Do you have time for training?

These are just a few examples.

Taking your current dog into consideration is a big part of adding a second dog. You may want a younger dog, but if you own an older one — how will he adjust to having a younger dog in the house? Perhaps he will be indifferent. Or maybe he will be annoyed and frustrated with the bouncy energy of a younger dog… And then — some older dogs still have lots of spunk and love to play. Maybe he would be happier with a dog closer to his age — or just past the puppy stages? Maybe he needs a quiet and content companion, rather than a playmate?

If you really aren’t sure — go on a few playdates with your friends! Take your dog out visiting and see what personalities seem to mesh best with his. Watch what dogs he interacts with best, or which ones he is most tolerant of. Some dogs can adapt to anything — and other dogs are much pickier. As a pet owner, this is an important consideration.

Socialization is important. Some dogs are not used to being around other animals, and if your dog has not had a lot of exposure to other dogs, this is an important step to take BEFORE considering adding a second dog.

Are You Ready for a Second Dog?

To be honest, I personally do not find two dogs are much more work — you are already feeding one, walking one, playing with one — what’s another? That said, everyone is different and what one person can handle does not always indicate what another is able to manage. So make that decision for yourself.

Remember that two dogs also means additional expenses. You will double your pet expenses, as your second dog will need food, vetting and other such necessities. You will need two open seats in your vehicle, two beds on the floor, etc. You will also have two dogs to train — and sometimes, they will learn from each other. That applies to both good and bad habits. If your pet becomes ill or injured, you could be faced with additional expenses. Having two dogs does double the risk.

Having two pets to enjoy really is double the fun! It is essential to consider why you want a second dog, what characteristics you are seeking, how the pet will fit into your household — and of course, to make sure you are ready for the commitment.

Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations in Brandon.

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