Should You Have Multiple Dogs?

This is a question that I get asked fairly regularly, and one that I have the most annoying answer to:

It depends.

It depends on your lifestyle, on the amount of space and financial resources you have available, and on the amount of attention you have to give to your dogs. It depends on the relationship that you want with your dogs, and it also depends on the relationships that you want your dog to have outside of yours. There are a lot of reasons why having multiple dogs can be a big plus, for you AND your dog, but there are many reasons why it’s appropriate for you to say that one is plenty.

Multiple dogs may be a good option for your family.

Reasons FOR Multiple Dogs:

I have always had multiple dogs, and I absolutely love it. They keep each other occupied when I cannot. When I’m busy with the kids, or working in the house or out with the horses, I don’t feel guilty that my dogs are at home alone. They have each other to play with and keep each other’s company.  They also keep each other calm during storms or on long, uncertain journeys (you know, like to the vet or to the park). I once had a dog who would get wickedly car sick each time you’d put him in the car, even just to go down the block. One day, though, I loaded him up in the car seat next to his big brother, Spot, and he got so much comfort from that that he didn’t get sick! I never took him on journeys by himself after that.

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I have only had a single dog once in my life, and it was exhausting for me. All of the things that my dogs usually do for each other, Ti was depending entirely upon me for. She needed a playmate, a confidante, someone to soothe her and to exercise with her. It was so much more work than having two or more dogs is, in my opinion, and definitely NOT for me. But that does not mean that it would be the best choice for your family!

Reasons AGAINST Multiple Dogs:

If you want a super close, best friend bond with your dog, you may not want more than one. Having your dog’s attention and affection split between you and his other canine companion can sometimes lessen your importance in your dog’s eyes.  If you are struggling financially and may not be able to provide the necessary vet care or preventative care that two dogs require, multiple dogs may not be in the cards for you. If you live in an apartment or have other space restraints, one dog may be all that you are able to keep for now.

I will say, though, that many of the dogs that have come to my home to stay for a Residency Training program are single dogs, and they spend nearly the first week just relearning how to be dogs, in the company of my dogs. They remember how to race and run, how to enjoy life without rigid human structure imposed upon them, and how to interact socially with their own species. Being a single dog can be a stressful situation for many dogs, but luckily, in my experience, they bounce back pretty quickly with the correct learning partners and the right handling.

So, in conclusion,

if you have a young dog who is driving you bonkers with an excess of energy, clinginess, and maybe some poor manners? I, personally, don’t believe that you need to wait until your dog is the best behaved creature on the planet before adding in a friend for him or her. In fact, a lot of those issues may resolve if you were to add a new member to your pack.

It’s a very personal decision, but my own view is that two dogs are absolutely better than one. It takes the responsibility of being EVERYTHING in your dog’s life off of you, and gives them a chance to be a dog without your help!

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