If Fido needs some companionship, make sure you go through this mental checklist before adopting pet No. 2. (Photo: Flickr/Matt Wunderle)
If you already own a dog and are thinking about getting a second one to provide your pup with some companionship, it may seem like an easy decision. After all, you’re an experienced pet owner. How different could it be? But adding another dog to your family dynamic comes with its own pros and cons, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before making the leap.
Here are six things to consider before you decide to adopt pet No. 2:
Ask yourself if your dog needs a buddy
“If you leave your dog home alone for 10 hours a day [while you’re at work], they’re a candidate [for getting another dog] to keep them company,” Joseph Kinnarney, veterinarian and president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, tells Yahoo Health. That may not necessarily be the case for, say, a retired couple who bring their dog with them to most places and spend all their time with their pup. In that case, the dog likely has all of the companionship it needs — namely, you. “Bringing in another dog may or may not hurt, but in general, that’s [already] a really happy family,” he says. “That dog is never alone.”
Consider sticking with the same breed
It’s true that dogs, including ones of the same breed, have their own unique personalities, so getting the same type of dog doesn’t guarantee they’ll be best friends for life. But in general, Kinnarney recommends choosing a second dog that’s the same breed since there’s a greater chance they’ll get along. “If you’re a Maltese person, then I would get another Maltese,” he says. “It will keep a closeness with them and those two dogs are more compatible.” Plus, as the owner, you already have experience with the breed. “You know what to expect by getting the same breed of dog,” notes Kinnarney. “The advantages of knowing your breed is more predictability and it fits in with what you want.”
Have a mutt? They tend to be more flexible and get along with a variety of dogs. So you can either choose a dog that complements your mutt’s disposition, or find a dog that matches the breed of one of the mutt’s parents.
Keep in mind that gender matters
Some experts say that mixing genders is best to prevent dogs from fighting for dominance, which is a higher risk when you have two female dogs together than two males. However, Kinnarney says that having a dog that’s neutered or spayed is more important than whether the dog is male or female.
Assess your budget
Doubling down on dogs also means doubling the cost when it comes to dog food, veterinary bills, grooming, and boarding. So make sure there’s room in your budget to care for a second furry companion.
Take into account your dog’s temperament
Above all, “know your dog,” says Kinnarney. If your pet doesn’t get along with other dogs and truly prefers humans, then bringing in a fellow furry companion may be more like having an unwelcome guest forced upon him or her. But if your dog is friendly and gets along with most other dogs at the dog run or when you’re taking walks, but seems a little lonely at home, a companion just might perk up your pup — and you.
Check animal shelters first
If you’re sure you want to add another dog to your brood, skip the pet stores, which often receive dogs from puppy mills, according to the Humane Society. Go to an animal shelter first, even if you’re looking for a purebred. One in every four dogs at animal shelters in the U.S. is a purebred, according to the Humane Society, and choosing a shelter dog often helps save the dog’s life. If you don’t find what you’re looking for at a shelter, then visit a responsible dog breeder in person.
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