4 Things to Consider Before Adding a 2nd Dog to Your Family

If you are thinking of adding a second dog to your family there are a lot of things to consider. Many times families focus on things like what a new pups’s name will be, what breed do they want, how old, where will go to get it; however, there are some more important considerations and decisions to make before embarking on your search for a new 4 legged friend.

[Full disclosure: the author is a proud dog mom to 4 great dogs]

  1. Does your current dog want a buddy? Not all dogs like other dogs. Some pups like to walk with other dogs but not play with them. Some like to romp and wrestle with their canine buddies. If your dog does not enjoy playing with other 4 legged buddies, Dogwhether in your neighborhood or in a daycare setting, there is a good chance he won’t like it in his home either. When considering adding a second canine, make sure to factor in your current dog’s sex (male-male and male female pairs tend to do better than female-female pairs), your current dog’s energy level (a senior dog may not see a puppy as a good couch buddy), and tolerance for other dogs (if your dog does not like other dogs, adding a second dog could be disastrous for both dogs).
  2. Time commitment – Put simply, two pups require twice the care and attention. Many times, pup number two is added to a family to keep pup number one occupied. Sometimes this results not in two well-exercised and happy dogs. Many times the result is two pups who chew shoes, dig holes in the yard, and get into other creative mischief. Don’t get me wrong, the pups have a blast together, but the owner now has twice the issues to deal with. You also need to factor in time to work on training both dogs (dog trainer secret: What is the best way to train two dogs? One at a time.) Is everyone in the family on board with helping with a second dog (or are at least enough family members on board so that the responsibility doesn’t fall to one person)?
  3. Financial considerations – Food bills, vet bills, and all other costs are close to double the amount for two canines versus one dog. Budgeting and planning, not to mention realistic expectation for this can prevent adopter’s remorse when it is time for annual wellness visits at the vet and it’s time to refill preventative flea, tick, and heart worm medications.
  4. Why do you want two dogs? – This is a personal question each family should ask itself. My best advice is to consider this carefully, along with the considerations above. Adding a second dog is a big decision. If your answer to this question is solely “to occupy my other dog”, I strongly suggest you reconsider your plan.

If you have really gotten to know your current pup’s likes and dislikes in terms of other four legged friends, are honest about how much time you have to give to two pups, come up with a budget, and do that gut check about why you want a second pup, and all signs point to “yes, the entire family would love a second dog” – go for it! A future post will offer some tips and things to consider in selecting your second pup and also so great resources for finding great dogs. Thinking of adding a new puppy to your pack? Check out our article Starting out Right with Your New Puppy!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Puppy Basics to Advanced Adult Dog Manners classes at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.

Did you know training your dog did this?

There are some obvious reasons to train your dog: to teach him sit, lay down, not pull on the leash, why else should you train your dog?

Dog training can have amazing effects on your dog’s personality, confidence, and energy level. It also gives people – including children – confidence around dogs. People who train their dogs feel more bonded with their dogs, and if you watch them with their dogs, their dogs are more bonded and responsive to them too. They also feel less stressed with their dogs – at home, at the vet, on walks, meeting other dogs and people. Here are a few of their stories….

Liam used to be very leash reactive. He looked like a crazed, aggressive dog when he saw another dog – from as much as 100 yards away. But when he met dogs off leash in his back yard he happy and relaxed with most dogs. Brenda needed Liam to be Training Liam and Bearcalmer when he saw other dogs, and desperately wanted to be able to walk him with other dogs. We set out to desensitize him to seeing other dogs – we showed him seeing other dogs was no big deal, and we counter-conditioned him seeing other dogs by showing him that seeing dogs on a walk was a good thing – it made hot dogs appear! Over a few months Liam went from doing barky, scary threat displays when he saw a dog on a walk, to a dog who saw a dog and calmly looked at his mom for guidance and reward. Liam learned to not only walk with other dogs, he started to enjoy it and was even able to help other leash reactive dogs to settle as well.

Bella used to be afraid of people. Strangers made her nervous and she was reluctant to go near them. To help her, we taught Bella

Training Bella
Don’t take Bella’s word for it – train with us and see for your self!


some basic cues – Sit, Down, Touch, Stay, and Leave It – and rewarded her generously for doing these behaviors on cue. Learning these basic cues helped Bella relax and feel more in control of her environment – in her mind I think she thought she had figured us crazy humans out: “I sit, and they give me a treat, or open a door, or take off my leash – it’s so easy to get these people to do things for me!” In reality, all we did was make Bella’s world more orderly and predictable. We did most of this training while Bella was in daycare without parents present. I knew Bella was getting more comfortable with me, but the real break through came when Bella showed her parents her new people skills. During my handover session with Bella and her parents, my assistant Eryn walked into the room. Bella had never met Eryn before, and she walked right up to Eryn to greet her and turned sideways and politely asked for pets. Through training, Bella learned basics commands and she gained confidence, and we were thrilled!

When I first went to Maxi’s home she was a frantic little dog. She seemed to be going in 3 directions at once – and nipping everything in site. Maxi was anxious and nervous, and showed it with her mouth and by jumping on people. We taught Maxi that doing Sits, and Down, and Touches, and Stays made her ball fly through the air, treats appear out of no where, and Training Maxipetting and love come her way. In one week, Maxi went from anxious and frantic to focused and calm. Her Mom started hand feeding her and making her work for food, ask politely to get on the couch, and ignored any impolite or pushy behavior. I think it showed Maxi that there was nothing to be anxious about, Mom had the world under control, and Maxi blossomed. Maxi isn’t a perfect dog, but her progress in 1 week was fantastic! Her Mom is thrilled with her and feels much more in control of her home, and her dog, who used to be too excitable to sleep on her bed, now rests calmly at her side each night.

I can’t promise every dog will have transformations like this, or as quickly as some of these dogs did, but I can promise you this: training your dog and working with your dog will teach you and your dog to understand each other better, will help you (and often your dog) feel more confident, and it is a great way to exercise your dog’s brain, which can tire a dog out more than a long walk. Training should be fun and rewarding, for both dog and human. Give it a try, you just might love it!

Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.

Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Doggone Safe “Be a Tree” Presenter, and a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer for the Catch Canine Academy.