Is it better to have two dogs to prevent your dog from being lonely?

Cesar Millan, a pet behaviorist, notes that as descendants of wolves, dogs are instinctual pack animals and they instinctually seek to join whatever pack is nearby.

So it is right to assume that getting another dog is a good way for your dog to socialize and have company while you’re away. However, it is important to think this decision through and consider all the factors.

Is it better to have two dogs and what are the things you need to know before getting a second dog?

 As this isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly, there are things you should consider in order to make sure this is the right step for you, your current dog, and any new pet.

Before thinking about getting your pet a sibling, you must consider your current dog’s temperament around other dogs.

Is he usually friendly to other dogs in the park? Does your dog have any history of fighting with other dogs?  If he did show a dog to dog aggression then adding a second dog might not be a good idea, at least for the time being. If you want another dog, be sure to take care of this issue, with a certified dog trainer, before getting another dog.

 small dog and large dog stare at each other

If your current dog has a health problem, adding a new dog to your home may cause stress that can make his medical condition worse.  

Many scientific articles claim that stressful stimuli act as a trigger for seizures in some dogs with epilepsy. Having a diabetic dog means having a dog with a strict feeding schedule and any other food he “steals” from his sibling can make the matter worse. Talk to your vet to get more info about your dog’s condition and how to manage it in the best way possible once a new dog once the new dog is introduced into your home.

Do not expect your new dog to “fix” your current dog’s separation anxiety.

Malena DeMartini, animal behaviorist specializes in separation anxiety notes: I’ve seen situations where a second dog has been slightly beneficial, but it isn’t the solution. According to Malena DeMartini : ’’ If you want a second dog, the first course of action is to help your existing dog overcome the separation-related anxiety before bringing in the new addition”.

Opposite sex dogs do better together

With two males, the dominant dog will become overly dominant while the submissive dog could have a very stressful life.  Two females together have a hard time establishing a stable pack order. Stanley Coren, a dog writer, and behaviorist notes that female dogs are more often involved in fights than males.

two dogs playing with each other

Psychology Today, claims that in one study, only 32 percent of aggressive incidents recorded involved a conflict between two males, while the remaining 68 percent, females were active participants.  According to Dr. Karen Backer :” Larger males and smaller females work well together, because males are inhibited toward aggression toward females, and larger dogs are inhibited toward aggression toward smaller ones”.

If you are going to get dogs of the same sex, spraying, and neutering is highly advisable in order to avoid any kind of conflict.

Research the breed

Dog Breeds have personality traits that can define a character. It is not advisable to pair up your dog who enjoys laying on the couch for hours with a frisky and loud Chihuahua. Terrier breeds put together especially females can fight a lot.

Nevertheless, it is hard to predict how their personalities will match. As Dr. Nicholas Doman director notes that pets, like people, react differently to different situations, and when it comes to dogs, it’s a matter of personality rather than breed.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ‘’having two dogs?

 Pet experts around the world agree that pet parents must make a detailed list of pros and cons rather than making a leap of faith and getting a new pet sibling. Here are some of the advantages to owning two dogs:

Two dogs can exercise during their playtime and keep each other entertained 

Two well-matched dogs can provide each other with companionship and playtime that is vital for keeping them fit and mentally stimulated. If your dog is left alone for several hours during the day, having a sibling to socialize with can mean the difference between destructive behaviors and a happy, balanced dog.  

two dogs swimming and holding a stick in their mouths

Having two dogs can help reduce dog loneliness or/and separation anxiety

As Nicole Wilde, a certified canine behavior specialist, describes it Social facilitation means that one dog’s behavior amplifies or changes another’s.” A calm dog can be a role model for an anxious dog. On the other hand, if you have two anxious dogs put together it can only make the matter worse.

It can make puppy training easier

If you are considering getting a new puppy, having an older, well- behaved dog around can help a younger dog understand the rules of the household. Because the dogs are pack animals, the older dog will naturally take the role of the pack leader, and the younger dog will mimic his behavior. 

Adopting another dog and providing him with a home can be very satisfying

This cannot be the only reason to bring home a new dog, but if you already have a friendly dog at home, and you have enough time for both of them, you should consider taking a rescue dog. Besides providing your current dog whit a companion,  you will feel good about giving your new dog a loving home.

While there are many pet parents with very positive experience adding a new dog to the family, there is a number of those who have gone through many challenges and obstacles to keep both of their dogs happy. That is why you should be well aware of the disadvantages that come whit being a pet parent to two dogs. 

“Social facilitation” can also have a negative side in some situations

A new dog is not necessarily a solution for all behavior problems of your current dog.  The new situation can make a matter worse. For example,     when one dog is barking and hauling intensively, you may notice the same behavior in the second dog.  They are also capable of mimicking separation anxiety and destructive behavior. Therefore, it advisable best to work out your current dog’s issues with a trainer before you bring a new dog into the family.

Two dogs cost a lot more

Having a second dog can more than double pet care and vet expenses. You must consider the cost of the food, yearly immunization, monthly tick and flea preventions, and occasional deworming. If one dog has and contagious disease, the other can also catch it. The dogs who play a lot are prone to injure, or even get bite wounds.

puppy placed next to a 100 dollar bill

You will likely need to separate them for medical or behavioral reasons

If you do not spay or neuter, and you have the dogs of the opposite sex you will need to separate them during the heat two times a year. Training sessions should be done individually with each dog, for the dog to stay focused. Trips to the vet are generally easier done whit one animal rather than two. 

One of your dogs will outlive the other

The dog that remains is going to grieve for their lost companion, and he has to get used to living on his own. This can come whit a new set of challenges such is:  lethargic behavior, sleeping more than usual, aggressive behaviors, and becoming very clingy to the owner.

What are the best tips for introducing your dog to his new “sibling”?

Once you’ve decided on the right dog that will hopefully get along you’re your current dog, it is time for a proper introduction.  The success of meeting and bonding depends not only on the personalities of the dogs but also on your effort, to make this transition from a single to a two-dog household as smooth as possible. Your two dogs should be introduced to each other in a series of gradual steps. 

Introduce the two dogs on a neutral location, preferably outside

To avoid territorial aggression, introduce the dogs in place that is new to both of the dogs. Some dogs could urinate when meeting a new dog. The other dog will sniff the urine. This is an important method of introduction because it gives the dogs some information about each other before physical contact occurs.

two curly hair dogs on leashes being introduced to each other

Keep the introductions short

A few minutes more than enough for the first encounter. It will keep the meeting interesting and there will less time for them to become overwhelmed.

Keep it safe and use leashes

The leashes should not be held too tight, but they must have it in case something goes wrong.

Allow the dogs to sniff each other when meeting

While they are doing so, praise them with a nice pleasant tone of voice. Observe closely for any signs of aggression, so that you can intervene if needed by distracting their attention to something else. Do not force interaction if they ignore each other. They will have plenty of time for social interaction once they are ready.  

small dog sniffing larger dogs butt

Your resident dog should “invite” the new dog into his home

Once you’ve decided to bring them home after the first meeting, make sure to walk with your senior pet first. Doing so, you are giving your resident dog a chance to present himself as a host and claim his alpha position in the new hierarchy.

Each dog must have its food and water bowl

Feed them always at the same time. Water bowls should be out continuously. However, you should remove both food bowls after the meal times to avoid food aggression. 

If possible take the first week that your new dog spends in your house off

This period is crucial to establish a healthy relationship between your dogs. You should make a part of your daily routine to gradually extend the time that the two dogs spend together, and during this time you should ensure that you focus on both of your dogs.

You should not force their time together if you see that the dogs are not ready. Rescue dogs can sometimes have trust issues and need more time to get used to you and their new sibling. Your older pet may need time and attention to be able to accept a new dog into the household and as a member of the pack. 

dog sleeping on couch

Once your two dogs start interacting and playing, initially you will need to ensure that you supervise playtime. Keep the dogs separate when you are not at home until you are sure they have established a stable pack hierarchy.

Your dogs should have “alone time”

Don’t force your dogs to be together at all times, because spending all their time together can cause tension. This can result in major fights.  Your dogs should have their corners of the house where they can withdraw when they want to be by themselves, especially as there are some dog breeds that can be left alone for long periods and are still able to thrive.

Final Thoughts

Getting a new dog can come with many challenges and for sure it will bring many changes to your daily routine. However, with the right motive, sufficient research, and with enough energy and of course, money, having another dog can be a great experience for both you and your current dog.

two dogs hugging

With the right arrangement, over time,  your dog’s relationship can grow into long-lasting companionship, which can be beneficial for your current dog’s wellbeing. Furthermore, it will make you feel better knowing he has his buddy by his side even when you are not there.


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