Thinking about … expanding the family

I didn’t grow up around animals. I didn’t even like dogs until I spent time volunteering on an Italian farm and fell in love with the five dogs who lived there (two have since passed away, RIP).

Adopting a dog was literally one of the first things I did as a home owner, and we’ve always envisioned having a couple of dogs around.

The time isn’t right just yet to add a second dog to the mix, though I’m starting to think about it and plan ahead. We’re working on getting Leila better trained right now – mainly around walking on lead, as she can be a bit of a handful sometimes.

She loves human attention but she also loves other dogs and I’m sure she’d love a companion. Obviously she’s been an only child here so far (unless you count the chickens) but she shared her space with another dog at the SPCA for a long time.

My main concerns is around the logistics of walking two dogs (hence wanting to get her more trained) and whether I’ll be able to go running with both at the same time. We have plenty of space so I’m not worried about having enough room for two. Doubling up on some things – bed, bowl, kennel leash etc – will be an initial outlay but then it’ll just be food and maintenance.

Getting the right dog will be important. Probably a male this time, and of similar size or a little larger (she isn’t a fan of small dogs). One that is a little lazier than her, but can still keep up with her for the most part. I’d like to adopt again – I have a bit of a soft spot for boxers, though they’re rare in shelters here and there don’t seem to be any boxer-specific rescues in NZ.

Has anyone gone from one dog to two? What was it like?

9 thoughts on “Thinking about … expanding the family

  • Reply Linda July 5, 2016 at 05:52

    We adopted a second dog six months after getting the first. Our first dog seemed so perfect. She was already fully trained (both house-trained and obedience trained) and enjoyed being around other dogs. I loved her so much and thought that she would enjoy another dog as company, but fretted that I couldn’t love another dog as much as her. We did go to the shelter and get a second dog anyway; that second dog is my beloved Hannah.

    The first dog, Sadie, was the alpha of the two. She insisted on it, and Hannah let her get the best toys, food, and most of the attention. Hannah was far from perfect and I had regrets about adopting her after just a few months when her aggression towards other dogs seemed to appear out of nowhere. (Not really, the behaviorist said she most likely had this behavior before we adopted her.) I didn’t want to take her back to the shelter, though, because I knew she’d be euthanized, but I also felt very limited in what we could do with her. Sadie could have gone to the dog park, but Hannah would get very upset when left alone. (She once tried climbing the fence in an attempt to get to the neighbor’s yard where she could see me with Sadie and the neighbor’s dog!)

    When Sadie suddenly died, Hannah seemed to blossom. She was much more comfortable being the only dog. She’s been my only dog for six years now, and that will continue until she’s gone.

    I know that intense desire to make the best life for your dog by bringing another dog into the family. If Leila is so social, she may enjoy having a companion. But having two dogs living together every day is very different from having her visit with other dogs at the park or on doggie play dates. Pack hierarchies kick in. Dogs compete with each other for attention, food, toys, and space. That’s their nature. It’s smart that you’re thinking of a male dog, as that may lessen the sense of rivalry. Do realize that it’s not just extra money for vet bills and food that you need to factor into your budget, it’s the extra demand on your time, too. It’s really best to spend some time with each dog separately, if possible.

    • Reply eemusings July 5, 2016 at 09:01

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience (I too wonder if I could love another dog this much!) Your anecdote about being in the neighbour’s yard gave me thought. Would absolutely aim to have one on one time with each dog, but realise that a lot of things (like most walks) would be joint ventures.

  • Reply Kara July 5, 2016 at 06:14

    I think the biggest different I noticed when we became a two-dog family was the amount of food that they go through. That being said, we have two large dogs (85 & 90 lbs), so that’s to be expected.

    My biggest concern, however, was how well they would get along. When we went to meet our potential 2nd dog, we brought along the one we had so they could meet and to see how well they got along. It went well, and they only had one dust up once we brought them both home. (Over food.)

    • Reply eemusings July 5, 2016 at 08:49

      Oh yeah, this would be absolutely critical! If we go ahead with this then that’s the next step – ensuring the right fit/right dog. I would definitely want to have the dogs meet at LEAST once, and for a reasonable chunk of time. If we go the SPCA route again, I believe they require this anyway.

  • Reply Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) July 5, 2016 at 07:06

    We are a two-dog household and while I cannot say what it was like to go from 1 dog to 2 (as Tony had both dogs when we first started dating), I can speak a bit to the concern of walking two dogs on your own, as I had to do this for 2 weeks while Tony was recently in the States. I was super concerned that it would be nigh impossible as one of our dogs—a 30kg pit bull mix—is as strong as an ox and loves to chase anything that moves (but especially cats and birds, both of which are abundant here in Mexico) as well as eat garbage (also abundant here in Mexico), while the other dog—a corgi—doesn’t see very well and so tends to dawdle and, occasionally, walk into things. Even given their disparate energy-levels, it was totally fine walking them together: Emmy was forced to go slower and wait more than she normally would, and Rory seemed to realize he needed to move his caboose and was more motivated to keep pace. Admittedly, it was more challenging to juggle poop bags and the like than when we have one person/dog, but it wasn’t overly taxing or terrible.

  • Reply Anya July 5, 2016 at 07:57

    We are a five dog household so I definitely understand your concerns. One thing we’ve discovered is every time we bring a new dog home, the other dogs train the new dog so we’ve always had a smooth transition.

  • Reply SP July 6, 2016 at 13:13

    We often talk about it, since we have a high energy social dog that seems like he would like a friend. Realistically, we probably won’t do it, unless we try to add children and are unable to.

  • Reply Dividendsdownunder July 6, 2016 at 14:34

    Well, I can totally relate to getting a new pet as soon as you moved out. I got my first ever pet (not my wife’s first though) when we moved into our place. He’s a cat though, so I can’t offer any help with getting another dog. It’s clearly possible for 2 dogs to work, I see people with them all the time 🙂


  • Reply Funny about Money July 7, 2016 at 16:25

    “Has anyone gone from one dog to two? ” 😀 How could one not?

    Aged German shepherd: got a pup, thinking (stupidly — don’t do this) she could sort of model her amazing doghood to the pup. Pup developed such severe his dysplasia that her entire hindquarters collapsed; she had to be put down. Got another — most gorgeous German shepherd I’ve ever seen. At the age of 3 she tried to attack my mother-in-law, me, and finally a veterinarian. Vet, diagnosing a genetic psychosis (that’s an oversimplification but it’s what the thing boils down to), advised putting her down before someone got seriously hurt.

    Vet produced a chocolate lab, which he proposed we should keep for a week or so and see if we liked her. Vet understood what small boys do when confronted with Labrador retrievers: we were doomed. Chocolate lab, not the brightest rhinestone on the cowboy vest, came to stay.

    Aged German shepherd prevailed through all of these shenanigans. She knew her place and had no problem convincing any dog or human who was boss.

    Many years later, another Ger Shep: in her 7th year, I got a 7-year-old greyhound. Female shepherd, male hound. German shepherds can be dog-averse, and this one was that with a vengeance. She deeply hated dogs and wished nothing more than to rid the earth of them. We introduced the two outside the house, & outside the yard — both muzzled. Nothing happened. After awhile, we unmuzzled them. Again: nothing happened. Eventually, we walked them into the house. Incredibly, nothing happened. They became the best of buddies and lived happily ever after.

    Three-year-old corgi, golden retriever puppy (male), babysat at our house while pup’s human (my son) goes to work. Corgi trains puppy to behave in civilized society. Or else.

    Seven-year-old corgi, brand new corgi puppy, both female: supposedly a bad mix. Corgis are very bossy dogs that maintain a much stronger herding instinct than modern US German shepherds, a variety that has been badly degraded by misguided breeders. Lots of competition between these two. One day one of them rules the roost; the next day the other. But they get along fine, by and large.

    I think (but could not prove) the trick is for the human to maintain its position as boss dog. If you don’t, all is lost.

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