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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