Why Two Dogs Are Better Than One: Tips and Benefits


I am a wife, mom, and companion to two charming dogs, as well as a singer in my church choir.

Our Search for a New Dog

In early 2005, a few months after we lost our beloved dog Petra at the age of 16, our family decided to was time to get a new dog. We checked the local animal shelters for a couple of weeks, but could not settle on the right dog or puppy. We had to feel "right" about the potential new member of our family.

Then one Saturday in April 2005, we answered an ad placed by a couple who said they rescued unwanted dogs. They showed us a litter of seven adorable puppies with various color combinations. The mother, said the man, was a black Labrador retriever and the father, a brown and white Springer spaniel. The man had papers documenting the puppies' parentage and more papers showing records of their initial shots. We called them Springadors and only later discovered that this, along with Labradinger, is one of the official names of this increasingly popular hybrid breed.

An Impulsive Decision

The boys, who were twelve and eight at the time, each chose a puppy and we couldn’t decide between them. My husband and I had a quick discussion. We both worked and the kids went to school. We reasoned that dogs don’t like to be alone and they don’t much care whether their companion is human or canine, and we made the crazy impulsive decision to take them both. We probably broke every rule in the book of conventional wisdom about finding a puppy, except the one about not buying one from a pet store. The puppy pen was set up in a shopping center parking lot and we did not check out the sellers very carefully.

But it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made. Both Cocoa and Pippin turned out to be friendly, fun, delightful family pets, and other than the double veterinary bills, having two dogs in the family turned out to be better than having one. Of course, if you decide to go the two-dog route, you have to consider the size of your living space and yard. If you rent your home, be sure to check your landlord’s pet policy. But if you have the space, there are many advantages to being a two-dog family.

Things to Know About Owning Two Dogs

It Alleviates Loneliness and Boredom

A big concern of ours was that our new puppy would be lonely when we were not home. Loneliness is real suffering for a dog and may even cause behavior problems such as excessive barking. Without company, dogs also get bored and bored dogs often bark continuously to release energy, according to Jenna Stregowski, RVT, in her article Barking Dogs: Why Dogs Barks and How to Stop Excessive Barking. I believe both our dogs are happier together than they would have been alone. Like all dogs, Cocoa and Pippin will bark a little at animals or strangers, but they have never barked or whined for long stretches of time out of emotional distress.

Crating Two Puppies Together

When we had to leave the house for a period of time, we put the puppies together in a large crate along with some old towels. Crating is a way to keep puppies from destroying your furniture, carpets, and shoes when you are not home. It also helps with housebreaking. Even though our puppies were only eight weeks old when we brought them home, they only had a few “accidents” inside their crate. It is instinctual for dogs to not want to soil their space. Some of us feel guilty about crating dogs because locking them up in a small space for hours seems cruel; but this is transferring human values to another species that, believe it or not, may not share them.

The truth is, if you treat the crate as a happy place, your dog will not perceive it as cruel treatment. It can be a merciful way to prevent problems that could damage the developing relationship between you and your pup. How much better it is to come home to an undamaged house and fling open the crate door so that you and your dog can greet each other joyfully than to come home to a living room covered with the stuffing from your living room sofa (yes, this has happened to me with a previous dog). The feeling with which you will greet your dog under such circumstances will be something less than joyous. But still, reasonable or not, the fact that Cocoa and Pippin were together in the crate made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. We got the largest size crate we could find so they had plenty of room, we know they were safe, and they had each other for company.

Transitioning Out of the Crate

Springadors are fairly large dogs—they can end up anywhere between 50 and 90 pounds. So when the pups got too large to comfortably share the crate, we got a second crate and put them side by side where they could see and nose each other. For over a year, we put them in locked crates whenever we were not home.

Just before leaving, we’d say in a warm happy voice, “Time to go to Place!” and in they would go, tails wagging. Then we’d give them each a biscuit—something for them to anticipate. Once we were sure we could trust them not to destroy the house, we began leaving the crate door open so they could go in and out at will. Eventually, we got rid of the crates altogether and replaced them with big dog pillows in the same spots.

Two Dogs Get More Exercise

In addition to being good for their mental health, having a canine companion is also great for your dogs’ physical health. Puppies love to play and romp for hours at a time and can out-romp most humans. Since our two were able to romp with each other, they got the exact amount of exercise they needed.

As they grew older, they continued to chase and play until their activity needs were satisfied. Dogs often become overweight due to overfeeding and inadequate exercise. You’ll have to take care to feel them the right food in the right quantity, and you will want to walk them regularly, but with two dogs, you can be sure they will help each other use up any excess energy. Pippin has a tendency to be on the heavy side and without Cocoa to run with, he probably would have been overweight by this time; but at six years old, both dogs have maintained a healthy weight.

The Emotional Bond: Connecting With Another Species

Much of the joy in having dogs is observing and enjoying your pets’ unique personalities and behavior quirks and forming that special human/pet bond. There is something fantastically satisfying about forming an emotional bond with a creature of a different species. Perhaps it soothes some deep feeling of human isolation from the natural world. In fact, although some people own dogs primarily for their utility—hunting, protection, retrieving, etc., I believe that the vast majority of people own dogs for the emotional connection.

This joy is more than doubled with two dogs—you might say you get the emotional satisfaction squared. Our two dogs each have their own very different personality and it is great fun to not only form our own relationships with each dog but to watch their funny relationship with each other. Generally, they are great friends and are usually together. But there are occasional jealousy issues.

Dogs Don’t Care About Equality

Cocoa likes to be the center of attention and has developed many techniques to get her desire for affection satisfied, such as looking at our faces soulfully, lifting her paws, and rolling onto her back with her tail thumping. Pippin is more laid back and seems grateful for any attention he happens to get, but doesn’t seek it as vigorously. When Cocoa notices one of us petting Pippin for a while, she will make groaning noises in her throat and if we keep petting him, she will attempt to insert herself between us. I recently learned that when you have multiple dogs, you should not attempt to treat them both equally. Because dogs are pack animals with a rigidly hierarchical mindset, they are happier when they know their place in the pecking order.

So here is another area where my human values run smack up against the alien values of the canine species. As a parent, my mindset is to make absolutely sure I treat both my children with perfect equality, and I also have a hard time not anthropomorphizing my dogs. They seem so well integrated into our human life and they are such individuals, it is hard to accept that dividing line between human and animal. So I have definitely been guilty of trying to treat them as equals.

Fortunately, the jealousy has been mild, perhaps because my attempts to treat Cocoa and Pippin as equals has not been entirely successful. Cocoa is cuddlier and sheds less than Pippin, who inherited the long hair of a Spring Spaniel and sheds in constantly in tufts. So Cocoa has insinuated herself as a resident on the bottom of our bed, while Pippin sleeps on a blanket on the floor. With my newfound knowledge of dog psychology I am liberated from my guilt about this unequal treatment. Anyway, pippin does get his special privileges: He gets to chase away the flocks of migrating geese that frequently land in our front yard because he does the job and comes back immediately when we call his name. Cocoa insists on doing some exploring before she responds to our call and comes back only when she decides she is ready. So while Pippin gets to go chase geese, which always gives him a thrill, Cocoa has to stay inside. No need to feel guilty about that inequality either!

Two Dogs Can Be a Great Choice

So if you are in the market for a puppy, consider getting two! Many people introduce a new dog to a home that already has an established canine resident. This can work well too. There may be an adjustment period and perhaps some territorial issues, but dogs generally take well to a new companion.

Sources

  • About.com. Jenna Stregowski, RVT. "Barking Dogs": Why Dogs Bark and How to Stop Excessive Barking." Accessed 26 Jan 2011. .

DogSpot from Gurgaon, haryana on May 20, 2015:

Nice article shared by carolapple. Two dogs can give a nice company and homely environment to each other. But sometimes dog completely forget about their owner because they have companion to share everything. It may create problems.

carolapple (author) from Suffolk Virginia on February 22, 2011:

We ended up with the two puppies almost by accident but found out by the experience that it really is better for them and does seem to prevent or solve behavior problems. It makes perfect sense that a pack animal who has to be alone a lot is not going to like it and is going to find a way to express his unhappiness.

Bianca Rose from Australia on February 21, 2011:

I tell everyone who is having trouble with their dog to get another one. It sounds counter-intuitive but most behaviour problems are because a dog is bored. We got a second dog when our first dog was 3 years old and having a friend really helped calm down dog number 1.

Mark Ewbie from UK on February 18, 2011:

Two dogs are better than one. Definitely. They interact, form a pack and seem more secure and confident than a single dog. Hadn't heard of Labradingers before.


Having two dogs in the home is not without its setbacks. For instance, a pair of dogs increases the chances of mischief happening while you’re away. Some of these shenanigans may be endearing, but they may also be unwittingly destructive.

Cost is another factor that must be considered in a two-dog situation. Every aspect of care will at least double monetarily, from pet licenses and vet fees to food, grooming materials, and amenities. The price could be even more than doubled if you are welcoming two different breeds into the home.


The Benefits of Having Multiple Dogs

Having two dogs can be more than twice as much work as having one, and having three can require way more than three times as much effort. That pattern continues as the number of dogs increases. There’s no doubt that having a multi-dog household is a big undertaking, and yet many people can barely imagine having just one dog in their heart and home at the same time. They would miss scenes like an adorable dog pile, having their dogs do zoomies together after a bath, or just rolling around in sync.

Pictured below are the three dogs—from two different households—that my family recently hosted for a couple of days, and it was a good experience for all of us. The dogs all live on the same street and their guardians are friends, so they know each other. Luckily, they all get along.

The companionship they gave one another during their stay with us made me happy, and not just because it took some pressure off of me to make sure that they were having fun. When I observed them together, there was a comfort in the company they provided one another that was lovely to see. I’m not saying it is better or worse than the social benefits to dogs of being around people, but it’s different.

Benefits of a Multi-Dog Household

- Multiple dogs to comfort you when feeling down
- You are more likely to have a couch companion
- And you more likely to have an adventure companion too
- Get welcomed home multiple wagging tails
- Multiple dogs means more silliness
- Your dogs will each have a playmate
- You dogs will never be alone

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Despite the extra work for the people, I kept thinking about the benefits for the dogs of being in a group, beyond just how nice it was for them to have a couple of buddies of the same species around.

Living with Multiple Dogs: People who model peaceful, generous and courteous behavior create a household culture that dogs, who are highly attuned to social etiquette, recognize. Puppies growing up in such households are especially likely to adopt that culture. More often than not, multiple dogs do get along. Positives of Having a Pack

Training Challanges with Multiple Dogs

There are obviously drawbacks to having more than one dog, but some of those can be channeled positively. Having multiple dogs can provide training challenges, but it also offers opportunities to help dogs learn to attend to a person despite big distractions. While these dogs were visiting us, I made a point of doing some training sessions with the added difficulty of having other dogs around.

Performing any skill in a distracting environment is a challenge, and the presence of other dogs is often particularly hard for social dogs. With three dogs in the house, it was easy to set up situations where one dog worked on a skill while one or both other dogs were there. Rosie worked on her “spin” trick a lot during her visit. In the first video above, she practices it while the other dogs are not around. That work was to lay the groundwork for the success you can see in the second video below, in which she spins when the other two dogs are present.

Walking Two or More Dogs

Walking two (or more) dogs at the same time is not always easy, but it offers opportunities, too. Each time one dog stops to sniff or for a potty break, the other dogs need to exercise patience.

It’s hard standing around when you want to keep going, but being required to do so brings benefits. Handling frustration and exhibiting self-control in such situations is beneficial to dogs. Similarly, waiting your turn when it comes to treats or dinner also gives dogs practice with emotional self-control, and that is an important part of maturing into a pleasant adult.

My main concern before the shared visit was making sure that Marley, who is 10 years old, had some peace and quiet from both his regular housemate Saylor, who is about a year old, and from his neighbor Rosie, who is about eight months old. Marley likes both dogs and often plays with them, but he needs more rest and snoozy time than the young pups. He opted out of some play sessions, as many older dogs often do. He would take a rest, hang out with us or chew on something while the other two played.

We also helped Marley get away if he wanted to by letting him up on our couch, but not allowing the younger dogs to bother him when he was there.

The only reason it ever felt overwhelming to have three dogs was a result of bad luck in the form of the weather. It rained all day in the middle of the visit, which meant that every time the dogs came inside, we had a dozen wet, muddy paws to deal with. I’m not going to lie—that was a big hassle. Other than that, we had a glorious time while these three little angels were visiting us.

What advantages do you appreciate about having multiple dogs?


Enhancement to Child Development in Multi-dog Households

Children with pets tend to be more balanced and responsible as they mature. Should you have more than one child, having multiple dogs will give each child a special friend. They can learn to be responsible for their special canine friend which, in turn, gives them feelings of confidence and security.

Dogs help children cope with crises in their lives such as family disruptions, bad experiences, loneliness, and other types of stress. You can consider dogs as in-house therapy. A pal who is always there to listen to and comfort your child.

If you are able to offer a good home to an additional dog, both the time and financial commitment, you and your current canine(s) will reap numerous benefits. Once you experience a multi-dog household you may never go back to having just one dog.


The Benefits of Multiple Pets

The following article is courtesy of Purina.

If one four-legged friend brings so much joy into your life, surely more than one boosts the fun, right? While there are compelling benefits to having multiple pets, there are also important considerations to weigh before making the decision to bring additional cats or dogs into your home. When the decision is properly informed, it ensures the multi-pet household dynamic works well for you.

More Companionship for You

Cats and dogs can be loyal friends. They have a special way of comforting you and bringing a smile to your face, even when you’re not in the best mood. They keep you company, play with you, snuggle you and make you laugh. Multiple pets mean more soft fur to run your hands through and more companionship, even when one of your fuzzy buddies is off on her own.

More Companionship for Your Pets

You can’t always be around to entertain your cat or dog. Two or more pets can provide additional companionship for each other. Multiple compatible pets play together, helping stave off under-stimulation and boredom that can lead to behavioral problems. This enriching relationship may also reduce or prevent separation anxiety and ease your conscience when you have to go out. However, more pets don’t add up to a bandage for separation anxiety you may simply end up with multiple pets sharing the condition, as trainer Kathy Diamond Davis cautions on VeterinaryPartner.com. Of course, the antics of pets playing together is a great source of amusement. Keep in mind, though, that not all pets get along well, and they may even pose dangers to each other if they fight.

Increased Socialization for Your Pets

Socializing pets with other companion animals – especially when they’re kittens and puppies – is essential to their emotional development. Cats and dogs need experiences with others to become confident, adaptable and accepting. Socialization teaches your pet to interact with other cats, dogs and people appropriately and with less anxiety, explains Veterinary Pet Insurance. While single-pet parents have to find socialization opportunities out of the home, multi-pet parents have a built-in socializing environment however socialization with less familiar cats and dogs is still important.

Increased Socialization for You

More pets get you out and interacting more with other people. Because dogs should sometimes be walked and taken out for excursions on their own, having more than one requires extra trips around the neighborhood and to the dog park, where you can chat with neighbors and other pet parents. Multiple pets create more opportunities for trips to the groomer, pet spas or classes and other public places where you meet people who share your love of cats and dogs.

Improved Mood and Health

One pet provides a variety of health benefits, and more than one can compound the effects. You get exercise walking and playing with your pets, which promotes a healthier mind and body the more pets, the more activity. Among other benefits, sharing your home with furry friends reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, enhances your mood and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, notes Woman’s Day.

Decreased Allergies in Children

Pets are great for kids in so many ways, and as the National Institutes of Health states, children raised in multi-pet households are less likely to develop allergic conditions. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, kids living with more than one cat or dog are at reduced risk for hypersensitivities to common allergens, such as animals, grass, ragweed and dust mites.

Enhanced Development for Multiple Children

Cats and dogs aren’t just beloved companions and sources of comfort to kids. They teach them responsibility, encourage emotional development, promote a nurturing instinct and strengthen family bonds, as Parents Magazine details. In homes with more than one child, having one pet per child helps prevent competition for attention and affection, allows each kid to develop a special bond and provides opportunities for each child to have more involvement.

Considerations

Just as the decision to share your home with one cat or dog cannot be made lightly, the decision to take on multiple pets calls for a good deal of thought and planning. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Not all cats and dogs get along with all other cats and dogs – do research and take individual personalities into account
  • New cats or dogs must be introduced into the home and to other pets in a carefully controlled manner
  • Most experts recommend putting at least one to two years between getting cats or dogs
  • Pets of the opposite sex often accept each other more readily
  • Spaying and neutering are even more important to prevent pregnancies, dangerous competitive mating behaviors and other complications
  • Pets may fight over food, toys and turf
  • Groups of dogs can revert to a pack mentality
  • Cats and dogs require a year or more to feel comfortable in a new home
  • Pets should spend time apart, or they may bond strongly to the exclusion of bonding with human family members
  • Pet parents must spend time one-on-one with each companion animal
  • Training needs to occur individually
  • Costs increase significantly with additional pets – you pay for more food, toys, bedding, litter, other supplies, medications, veterinary appointments, grooming, boarding, etc.
  • It’s more complicated to travel with more than one companion animal
  • Two or more pets of the same age may develop age-related health problems – which can be expensive, time-consuming and draining – around the same time and may pass close together, creating a massive emotional burden


Watch the video: Should You Get a Second Dog? Should You Get Another Dog?


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