View Full Version : Adding a second dog/puppy

7th December 2011, 06:09 PM
At this time of year, this is an especially good column from trainer Victoria Stilwell but it is just a really good overview of the pros and cons of a multi-dog household, and the reasons why people add additional dogs (or additional cats to a multi-cat household). She make some important points about thinking carefully about whether you really want that addition to the house at this time of the year, but also some good pointers generally and some of her own concerns when she added a 2nd dog to her own home. :)


Some of what she says is likely to be a little controversial. I really agree with her observation that sometimes people add them because they feel they are helping rescue animals when the underlying reason is more that the people themselves need the attention (and sadly, sometimes the drama of the ups and downs and illnesses and behavior issues) of having a lot of animals–and fail to notice that the situation is actually very stressful for some of the dogs (or cats). It takes a lot of work to manage a multi-dog or a multi-cat household, and often they are just all left to fend for themselves and you can really see how stressed some of the animals are. I've noticed the same thing even with people in rescue who insist that 2 dogs need to be homed together because “they've always been together”–but actually, if you watch the dogs together over a period of time (which is why a couple of weeks of foster is important!), often one is put under a lot of pressure by the other or bullied a bit and as a result, one dog has its personality quite suppressed and the 2 would actually be much happier split into separate homes. It's funny, but this seems to be one of the most common misconceptions that people really don't want to let go of–that just because 2 dogs have lived together, that they actually want to be together...! In years of being around dogs, trainers, doing rescue etc, I've only actually ever seen a few dogs that are really absolutely bonded and inseparable and I think most dog trainers would bear this out. Very often of course they are great pals, as all of mine would be, but that's different from a case where 2 dogs would actually suffer if separated.

Cavaliers are great in that they do tend to get along much better, including in same-sex groups, then many other breeds, so some of the cautions are not as strict. For example, a pair of females, or a pair of males seem to get along more often than they don't get along, whereas with my colleagues who do rescue in other breeds–some of the terriers, for example–actually will not even home a 2nd female into a home where there's already a female because the females tend to be more aggressive and problematical in same-sex pairs.

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8th December 2011, 03:02 AM
That is interesting. I do wonder about the bonding though. Mindy and my Golden Zeus had lived together most of their lives. They always got along but they never cuddled up and I would have never said they were bonded until Zeus died. There was no other way to describe what Mindy went through other than mourning and depression. She started to whine every time I left her (she'd never done that before). This continued until we got Max - (although I think at that point there were days that she rethought the whole being an only dog thing). Max worshipped the ground she walked on and we got Rylie earlier than I had intended because when it was clear Mindy wouldn't be with us for a lot longer I wasn't sure how he would manage. Even so he was not himself for quite a few months after she died. I think sometimes we don't realize the bonds they have - although my friend talks about her border collies only missing the one who died when they realized that they now didn't have anyone to fetch the ball for them.

I would love to have a third Cavalier but I know in my heart that in my current situation that wouldn't be fair to Max and Rylie. They are still young and a pup or rescue would take a lot of attention away from them.

8th December 2011, 09:29 AM
Thanks for posting this! :)
My mom and I have been thinking about getting a second dog for a couple of months now and have been wondering if it would be best for Benji. He can be very nervous around other dogs although lately he does seem to be getting a little braver. Of course we're not going to be getting another dog until we're in a better financial place, as i'm a freelance journalist so money can be quite tight at times.

Karen and Ruby
8th December 2011, 03:49 PM
It is interesting reading.

I don't think I would have thought of a second dog if my relationship hadn't had been coming to an end but I knew in my heart that Ruby would go from having company for 75% of her day to being on her own for 50% of the day which broke my heart.

It is so important to think about the personality of the dog you have at home and any health/behavioral issues that they have too.
I knew a puppy would be a bad idea for Ruby and she was also at a good age of 2 years and very well behaved at this point too. So I looked for a younger rescue male and Charlie came up. I wanted a male so as not to threaten Ruby.
The moment they met I knew in my heart that Ruby's laid back ways could only be a positive for Charlie (he was a nervous boy) and that they would get on very well. The Foster was very happy that Ruby was a good match for him.
He loves her to bits and is stuck to her like glue most of the time ( I know that she could be with out him but he can't be with out her)
They are always on the same sofa (normally on top of one another) and play together wonderfully.

My reasons for getting Charlie were probably quite rash at the time and low and behold two months after he joined my house I was back to being a singleton BUT it was the best thing I have ever done!