What Are the Pros and Cons of Having Two Dogs?

A Bulldog puppy giving a Terrier puppy a kiss as they walk side by side.

If you’ve been thinking about how many dogs you want to have, you have some important decisions to make.

If you want more than one dog, should you get them together or should you allow some time in between them? Is having two dogs the right decision for you?

What are the pros and cons of having two dogs? Having two dogs means that both dogs will have a companion to keep them company and to play with, which can help ease boredom and destructive behaviors. Training may be easier as well. However, bills will double, aggression may arise, and bad habits may develop.

Adding another dog to your already busy life is not a decision to be taken lightly.

As you can probably imagine, having two dogs for whom you’re responsible comes with both positive and negative impacts.

Having a thorough understanding of what you may be getting into will help you make the right decision. 

Advantages of Having Two Dogs

Having one dog is great, so having two will certainly be twice as good, right? In some ways, this really is the case.

Here are some of the reasons that having two dogs rather than one may be for the best.

Dogs Are Social Animals

Perhaps the foremost reason to choose to have two dogs is that dogs are highly social animals.

The vast majority of dogs enjoy being around other dogs when they are socialized properly (learn more about correct socialization in this article). 

Dogs tend to form very deep bonds with other dogs, which sometimes seem different and stronger than the bonds they form with people or other animals.

If you work during the day and your dog is left all alone for long stretches of time, having a companion may ease his loneliness and boredom and put an end to the destructive behaviors that often result. 

Many people who have more than one dog swear that they could never imagine only having one. 

If you want your dog to have the richest possible life, complete with close relationships with both people and a fellow canine, you may wish to consider choosing a friend for him.

Playing Together Tires Your Dogs Out

Perhaps the most frequent reason for people who have not previously had two dogs to get a second dog is that their first dog is driving them crazy.

A second dog is one of the best ways to provide your dog with the exercise and enrichment that he might not be getting despite your best efforts. 

Allowing your dogs to play together is a great way to allow them to burn off that extra of energy before they settle down for a rest. 

Having a wide variety of toys available, including balls, ropes, and chew toys, will help prevent squabbles and encourage good-natured playtime.

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There’s something truly heartwarming about dogs having a great time playing together.

They Can Learn From Each Other

One thing that many dog owners are surprised to learn when they have two dogs for the first time is how readily dogs can learn from one another.

Dogs display social mirroring, which means that they often mimic one another’s behavior. 

They can often learn quicker in this way than they could by trying to figure out your signals.

If your existing dog is well trained with basic obedience, you can expect your new dog to fall into line pretty easily.

Granted, some tasty training treats will help too. (My dog adores Zuke’s Natural Training Treats.)

Of course, the other side of that coin is that your existing dog may also learn some bad habits from the new dog.

It’s Fun to Compare Them

Having two dogs somehow makes both dogs more interesting to you. You will be able to observe aspects of their behavior that differ.

Perhaps one loves going out in the rain to play in puddles while another refuses to get his feet wet.  

Maybe one is a non-stop comedian while the other tends to take himself more seriously.

Whatever the differences, you’ll have fun learning all about them, and you get to know both of your dogs better by having two of them.

Disadvantages of Having Two Dogs

Twice the Expense

Two dogs mean twice the food, toys, and medical bills.

It also means double the possibility that your dogs will get into some kind of mischief that requires additional medical care. 

Whatever expenses you expect for your current dog, you can double them when you decide to get another dog.

If you’re choosing a dog who has different medical needs than your current dog, you may dramatically increase the price.

They Gang up on You

If you feel like you sometimes barely have control of the dog you have, that’s nothing compared to how it will be to have two of them.

Whether you’re alone in the household or have help, you will probably come to feel that your dogs are getting the best of you at least every now and then. 

It can be more challenging to put your foot down when dogs are behaving rambunctiously or engaging in other undesirable behaviors.

It sometimes seems that just as soon as you have gotten one quiet, the other one starts barking.

Dogs can play off of each other, which means that you can lose control more quickly.

They May Have Disagreements

For the most part, dogs are highly sociable animals that get along well together.

However, it is not extremely uncommon for dogs to have instances of aggression even after knowing each other well for years.

Littermates have a special prevalence towards behavioral issues with one another later in life. It’s so common that it even has a name: littermate syndrome. 

Consider your dog’s breed before getting a second dog.

Some breeds, such as Akitas and American Pit Bull Terriers, may have a tendency to show intolerance of other dogs as they get older.

If you are thinking about having more than one dog, be sure that they will likely get along.

How to Have Two Dogs In The Best Possible Way

Planning makes it more likely that you’ll have two dogs who always get along beautifully and become fast friends.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to have two dogs successfully.

Start with One

The most common mistake that most people make when they want to have more than one dog is that they get two puppies at the same time.

They’ll often get two littermates at the same time, which compounds the problem. 

Having two puppies at the same age at the same time makes it more likely that they will distract one another instead of helping you train the other one.

Instead of getting two puppies simultaneously, start with one dog and train him thoroughly before you bring home a second dog.

This will also eliminate the potential for littermate syndrome. 

Choose Compatible Breeds

Dogs of all different breeds, sizes, and ages can get along well. However, choosing compatible breeds can definitely make it easier.

Dogs that tend to have the same sort of play style, are more closely matched in size and energy levels, and have other things in common may be more likely to form a strong bond and get along very well. 

Give them Alone Time

Regardless of how old your first dog is when you get your second dog or what other variables may be involved, it is best to give both of your dogs plenty of time alone.

Sufficient alone time helps dogs to learn how to exist without being close to one another all the time.

Furthermore, it enables you to build up training and build your bonds with your dogs individually. 

Dogs should get their chew toys, food, and other highly desirable resources separately to reduce the potential for competition.

This is also important so that dogs don’t try to wolf down their food as fast as possible to keep it away from the other dog.

What Can Go Wrong and What To Do

Aggression

Aggression between housemate dogs can be one of the scariest things that you experience with your pets.

This kind of aggression should be taken very seriously. 

While skirmishes that don’t result in injury can be managed at home with careful training, serious fights should only be managed with the help of a behaviorist.

Jealous Behavior

Dogs seem to experience jealousy of one another, similar to what humans experience.

If your dogs are shoving each other to get to you, hoarding resources, or showing any indications of jealousy, it’s essential to give them plenty of alone time and individual training to curb the behavior.

Never allow dogs to display jealous behavior to get your attention. 

Pay careful attention to instances of dogs shoving each other out of the way, showing stiff body language, or otherwise displaying jealousy, and never reward these behaviors inadvertently. 

Last update on 2020-10-23 at 16:30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API