One common reason for getting a second dog is to keep our first dog company.
The hope is that our dogs can spend their days playing together, and draining each other’s energy. When we come home, they will be happy to lie around, be calm, and be mostly well-behaved. Since the dogs have each other, there will be less need for us to play with them, walk them, or otherwise keep them engaged.
Reality however, is quite different from this idyllic picture.
In my experience, having two dogs is a lot more work than having just one, especially in the beginning. My dogs amp each other up, get more excited together, and lead each other into more trouble than before.
This is not to say that getting a second dog is a bad idea. However, I think that getting another dog for the wrong reasons, will degrade quality of life for everyone in the family, both human and dog.
When to Get a Second Dog?
I waited for over 1 year before getting another dog. I wanted the extra time to bond with my first dog, properly obedience train him, and make sure I had most of his issues under control.
Only get a second dog when we have good control over our first dog, and have ensured that he is mostly well behaved.
During the first year, I was very tempted to get another dog, as a way to keep my hyperactive Shiba Inu company. Now, I am very glad that I did not do so until both Shiba and I were ready. Having two hyperactive dogs, that were mostly out of control, would have been very stressful for everyone involved.
In addition, issues may arise with the new dog. For example, puppy Shania had issues with her leg, had to go through multiple surgeries, and a leg amputation. I do not think I would have been able to deal with all that, if my other dog were misbehaving at the same time.
I had to spend a lot of time with Shania during her recovery, and did not have as much time for my other dog, but he was totally ok with that for about 5 months.
Therefore, give yourself enough of a time, energy, and financial buffer. If you are starting to feel like you have way too much free time, and that your first dog is sleeping too much, then it may be time to get another. 😀
How to Pick a Second Dog
What type of dog should we get?
It is always important to get a dog that fits in with our lifestyle, temperament, and energy level. In general, we want to get a dog that has slightly lower energy than we do, and that will enjoy the types of activities that we enjoy.
In addition to all that, a second dog will also have to get along and fit in with the temperament, lifestyle, and play style of our existing dog.
1. Size of second dog.
My resident dog, Shiba Sephy, has a high energy play style. As a result, he frequently overwhelms smaller dogs, and they usually stay away from him during play sessions. He has most fun playing with larger, more boisterous dogs. His favorite breed during supervised play groups, is the Pit Bull Terrier.
I carefully observe my dog while he is playing, and try to identify the types of dogs that he likes interacting with most. In addition to fun, I also identify breeds that my dog shows the most positive and least negative behaviors with.
2. Temperament of second dog.
Being a Shiba Inu, Sephy does not do well with dominant dogs. He likes dogs that are as goofy as he is, and is more interested in playing, than in exerting dominance. While Sephy does not try to dominate other dogs, he will not back down if other dogs try to dominate him. This could ultimately result in a fight.
For a second dog, I made sure to get a puppy that was more submissive in nature.
In addition, the Siberian Husky breed is also known for being affectionate toward people, with a lower protective drive. This balances out my Shiba’s more aloof personality, and his natural watch dog instincts.
In this way, Husky can receive most of the human affection when Shiba is in aloof mode. Similarly, when Shiba alerts to noises around the house, Husky usually just ignores it. Therefore, they complement, rather than amplify each other’s energy.
Husky Shania is also very food focused, and much more interested in doing obedience exercises. After she joined our family, Sephy actually became more obedient because he would come over and participate in training exercises with us.
3. Meeting and greeting a new dog.
How we meet and greet a new dog greatly depends on the temperament of our current dog. In general, it is best for the dogs to meet on neutral territory (e.g. quiet park), so that our existing dog does not get protective over his home turf.
Some things to consider during the meet and greet –
a) Do not force the greeting.
I usually have both dogs on-leash and with separate handlers. Both handlers should be calm and in control. We bring both dogs into the meet area, observe their body language, and how they react to each other. If they seem calm, we try walking them around the park at a comfortable distance.
If all goes well, we slowly bring them in closer together. I observe them closely while doing this, and do not force a greeting if there is extreme stress or signs of aggression.
Like us, dogs are individuals and may not get along with certain other dogs.
Before getting Shania, I looked into adopting a Siberian Husky and had a couple of meetings. However, the rescue dogs got spooked by Sephy, and became stressed around him.
b) Test-drive the new dog.
I first took Shania home for a test-drive week, to see if she would get along with Sephy.
Most good local breeders and adoption/rescue organizations are flexible with the initial try-out period. In fact, they are usually willing to take a dog back, even when things do not work out in the longer term.
After all, everyone wants what is best for the dog.
Introducing a Second Dog into the Home
After getting a new dog, we want to focus on successfully introducing her into the home. Some of the things that helped my resident dog get along well with our new puppy –
- Positive experiences. I try to create positive experiences when both dogs are together. In this way, they will see each other as allies.
- Group obedience training. I have several group training sessions, where both dogs work together for me and get rewarded together.
- Consistent and fair rules. I make sure that I am consistent and fair with all my dogs. They follow similar rules, as well as receive similar consequences and rewards. I also make it a point to be fair with affection and attention.
- Rest time. Puppies tend to be on-the-go most of the time. I make sure that the new puppy does not bother my other dogs when they want to rest, or just want some peace and quiet.
- No stealing. I supervise my dogs closely to make sure they do not steal from each other. Stealing can encourage food aggression and resource guarding issues down the road.
Good luck with your second dog and feel free to share your experiences and questions with us below.
We decided to get a shiba inu on “Thanksgiving” weekend, back in 2002. We have been blessed ever since. Her name is “Jazzy” short for “Princess Jasmine”. Obedience class is key for this breed, socialization with other dogs and humans. Jazz is very affectionate and loves to play. Does really well at the yearly vet visits. She has never nipped/snarled at any dogs, but she is not scared of any “sized” dogs. Off leash recall is scary, we used a shorter leash loose on ground, she doesn’t stray too far except when a squirrel, cat, or rabbit is involved. We have a large fenced backyard. We walk normally 1-2 miles a day, she loves it. Jazz had a skin condition the fall of 2012. She would chew obsessively at her paws, ankles to the point of almost no fur on lower extremities, scratching lots with her back legs. Her coat looked horrible, she looked sick. Her eyes looked “foggy”. She had no hair/fur on chest, tummy, there was no undercoat at all. She would shiver in the summer time, especially on a cool evening. Energy level was less than poor. Could only go for about a half hour at slow pace. Sometimes I had to pick her up and carry her home. After several vet visits and full blood work, all normal results. Thank God!! Had her anal glands expressed for large amt. of secretions, after seeing her scoot her bottom on the floor. She was put on prednisone, for 3 weeks, to help stop the itchiness. All this did was increase her appetite and make her thirsty. After medication was finished the chewing of her extremities started all over again! So to make a long story a bit shorter, I changed her food, again. After “a lot” of researching. I “Doctored” her with invermectin (antibiotic), most farmers have on hand. One dose saved her life. Not recommending this but I believe that I had to do something, the vets weren’t too concerned. I was told that she is a senior dog and there isn’t much that can be done. I was sure that we were going to lose her if something wasn’t done soon. She is healthy again. She is like a 2 yr. old dog again. We have “our girl” back!! Her coat is beautiful and shiny. Appetite is really good, she has put on weight. Her eyes are clearer.
My parents have a 10 y/o Shiba female and I am looking into getting a Shiba puppy. Do you think it would be too difficult for the adult Shiba to accept sharing her territory with a new puppy? Is it even a good idea to have two Shibas under one roof? I love them as a breed but she is not exactly social towards other dogs.
There are many people who have multiple Shibas in their household. How easy it is to introduce a new puppy will depend a lot on the existing Shiba, how well socialized she is with other dogs, and other behavioral conditions such as whether she guards her food and toys.
When Shiba Sephy was young, I did a lot of dog-to-dog socialization with him. By observing his interactions with other dogs, I saw what types of dogs he has the most fun with, and what types of dogs do not fit well with his play style and temperament. For example, Sephy does not like other dominant dogs. He does not do well with smaller dogs because he likes to wrestle and chase, which is almost always too much for a smaller dog.
I decided *not* to get another Shiba because Sephy is a large Shiba and most other Shibas will be smaller than him. He played with a few Shibas during classes and at the dog park. He only did well with one of them – a larger male who also liked to wrestle and chase. The others got overwhelmed and did not want to be around him.
In short, it depends a lot on the temperament, routine, and preferences of the first dog.
If we get a second dog that fits well with our first dog in terms of physical characteristics, temperament, energy, and more, then it will be easier to help them get along. However, in addition to picking a compatible second dog, I also set up a fixed routine, a consistent set of interaction rules, and I supervise my dogs well (especially in the beginning), so that I can enforce interaction rules and manage their level of excitement.
My husband is doing what he can to convince me to get a 2nd dog. We got married for 4 months ago, no kids (but talking about when we want to try), have a beautiful home and full time jobs. I have 4 year old Pom who is so sweet and loves to cuddle and get attention. His behavior is under control.. he’s well trained and gets along with other dogs.
I love dogs and am willing to take care of and pay for what what we need to, money is not the problem… my concern is that..
If we want kids down the road.. Am I going to go insane with all of the chaos in the house?… I am very back and forth on this and I need some advice. I have talked to some family members and the opinions are about 50/50.
Do I want to keep this comfortable routine we have or add a 2nd puppy for more chaos? Any advice?
I think it depends a lot on the second dog and on you and your husband.
My second dog was a lot of work. A big part of it is because she is a high energy dog (a Siberian Husky) and another part of it is because she is a three legged dog. Lower energy dogs will need less exercise and be less work. A well-bred, well-temperamented dog will also be easier to train, and be less of a challenge to manage.
It also depends a lot on how much we want another dog. I really, really, really, wanted another dog, so even though it was a lot of work with Shania, I was glad to do it. It doesn’t seem like a big chore every day because I enjoy walking and playing with all of my dogs.
As for kids, I don’t have any children so I can’t comment on bringing up kids and dogs at the same time. Based on conversations with other dogs owners, it seems that having a puppy together with a baby is very difficult, whereas having a settled, well-trained adult dog with a baby is more doable.
There are so many toy breeds in shelters, because when baby comes along, they don’t do well with them. Having two would be even worse. If your thinking of having kids in the next couple years, I wouldn’t get another puppy. When your out if the house 9-10 hours a day, who will train it? It’s not fair to the new puppy or the old dog.
if your husband helps and takes initiative with household chores then maybe. you may not have high energy levels for months at a time in late pregancy and children are demanding of your time. if your husband isn’t willing to chip in for the long haul, it could be difficult. i say perhaps hold off until you see how husband is when first child is born. think about breastfeeding, sleep interuption and that’s if everything goes well and your baby has no problems i.e. colic. Maybe have kid first and then see how you feel.
Soooo looking for some input. My fiancé and I moved in together 2 yrs ago. She had a husky/wolf mix rescue who was at the time 4 yrs old (kina) and I had a 4 yr old bernese mountain dog who was 5 yrs old (Sephira) both dogs being female.
There were some initial squabbles but nothing at all aggressive (surprisingly) Sephira the bernese was the dominant by far but in a non aggressive manner and kina the husky mix was the baby.
About a month ago, Sephira the bernese unexpectedly passed away in her sleep. By this point they were totally bonded and loving sisters and we had to pry kina away from here. Obviously we are completely heartbroken and devasted all 3 of us.
Over the past month I have noticed that kina is now very clingy. She used to be quite independent around the house but now is glued to us. As cute as it is and as much as I’m loving all the cuddles we both feel like this is something that needs to be addressed.
I can’t say that we are truly ready for another puppy just yet but we loved 2 and seeing as we want to start having kids in about 2 years we are thinking that sooner might be better than later. My question is do you think kina the husky would do better with a male or female puppy? It will most probably be a bernese mountain dog. I have seen her be somewhat protective/dominant at the dog park but not so often with dogs that are bigger than her. Conversely she is a bully to smaller happier dogs lol
I know it’s a whole essay and I appreciate the time take to read it.
I think the common wisdom is that a male and female would get along better. My first dog is a male Shiba Inu so when I went looking for a second dog, I picked a female Husky. Based on what I have read, female + female has the greatest risk of conflict.
However, I currently have 2 female Huskies and they have always gotten along very well. As you say, Sephira and Kina also bonded very closely, so I think that other factors such as overall temperament, management, and training matter a lot more. But all other things being equal, I would personally go with a male-female pair.
Please post me some picture links when you get your puppy. I love the look of Bernese Mountain Dogs. 😀
Big hugs to Kina.
Faith Byrne says
Hi I have just recently got a husky X gsd and was after some advise. I have read that huskies need a play mate to stop them from getting bored and burning some energy and I was looking into getting another dog but I’m not sure what tips of dog and if it’s too soon as we have only had her 5 weeks. X
In terms of getting a good second, it depends a lot on the routine, energy level, temperament, play-style and more of our current dog. I waited 1 year before getting another dog because I wanted the time to train, bond with, and get to know my first dog.
Even though I currently have 3 dogs, my Huskies still need structured time and activities with me, and fairly long daily walks.
How old is your Husky mix? What is her current routine? What is her temperament? What does she like to do? How does she react to other dogs? Does she seem bored currently?
Carmel Trimboli says
Hello. We have a 2 year old spayed, female Siberian Husky. Shes highly active, loves other pets and love people, kisses and hugs. We want a second dog in hopes to tire her out and keep her fit and company. We’re not too sure what to adopt. Can anyone help us? Please suggest a breed and age
Very sorry to hear about ShaniaInu’s leg. I am kinda getting to like all your dogs including the new ones.
Probably by seeing pictures of them oft in your articles. Recently I saw a VDO of a tiger rescuing a balu (baby monkey) from a hyena.
Nature by Dawn says
Good advice on getting control of the first dog before getting a second dog. Overall, this is some great information.
When I got my second dog, I knew I needed a puppy and/or a breed which wouldn’t be too concerned about not being the alpha. My first dog Sephi is the alpha and would not tolerate another dog trying to take her place. My second dog Maya is a Lab and Labs are generally laid back. Other than a few minor incidents of Sephi throwing her weight around, Maya has fit very nicely into the family.
Just Ask Susan says
I have 2 Newfoundland dogs. My female was 9 months old when we brought home a male newf puppy. It has been interesting as the female has always been very dominant over the male and she is quite a bitch to him at times but for the most part they get along well together. Enjoyed your hub and the pictures of your beautiful dogs.
You should read about the 500 dog rescue from a puppy mill and adopt one from there.The more the merry but make sure you have time and money to look after the dogs.