I’m certain that if my internet usage was known to Instagrammers that had two dogs …. they would have “all the frights” (as in doggo – language). I remember I stalked Smidge and Doodle. Littermates and sisters. I would analyze how they played, how close they sat, and try to ascertain by looking at that little square – if they liked each other.
Smidge_and_Doodle on Instagram
I had always wanted a second dog
My first Boston – Zoey – came into my life in 2011. Independent. Easy. 12 pounds in real life. But in her mind she was 180 pounds. I was advised by several dog professionals NOT to add a second dog to our family. Zoey was too strong willed. And she wouldn’t have accepted a second dog. I wanted to get a female at that too – and was told. Female dogs fight for breathing. Male dogs fight for breeding. Female dogs hold grudges and it would be biting off more than I could chew if I brought a second dog home.
The right time to add a second dog to your pack
We lost Zoey. And Maggie came to our lives in July of 2015. Playful and sweet. She wasn’t an alpha dog. So I knew right away … this time around I could get a second dog. But even then the breeders advised me to to wait. So I listened and enjoyed Maggie. I remember that time fondly. Having one dog meant:
- Ability to build a strong bond with your first dog.
- Time to invest in training. Maggie and I enrolled in The Pet Whisperer’s SoCal Destination Socialization classes which deepened our connection together.
- When Maggie was a puppy – I practically was her littermate, playmate, care provider. She would bring me all her toys and we’d play until she got tired and passed out.
- We traveled easily together. Even went to Denver, Co …. traveling with one dog is super easy.
- We explored San Diego’s dog friendly locations regularly and it was easy to handle one dog on a leash. Eating out was also very easy – she didn’t take much space and she behaved well in public.
When Maggie was 8 months old I started to look for puppy number 2
Once I knew that Maggie was trained enough to listen to me then I started to look for puppy number two. We were able to find Orbit and their age difference would roughly be 8 months. The biggest consideration when adding a second puppy is to think about:
- Temperament of the dogs. Dog #1 energy and temperament accepts other dogs. From the dog training and socialization – I knew that Maggie would be able to accept Dog #2
- Cost wise – understand that you are at least doubling your expenses. In our case initially it was almost quadruple. Orbit ended up to be mischievous OR maybe I just didn’t watch her as closely as I watched Maggie and she ended up getting into all sorts of trouble. As in accident prone. I remember the 1st week home she and Maggie were playing with a stuffed animal – I left the room, came back and she had eaten the stuffing. She started to yak uncontrollably and $700 later (emergency after hours vet visit) she got a shot to stop her yakking and was told to wait for her to poop it out. If she didn’t it would have meant surgery to remove it from her tummy.
- Attention shifts. When you add a second dog … it’s going to change the dynamic of your relationship to your dogs. Before Orbit it was the Maggie and Mom show. When Orbit came to the picture, it was the Maggie and Orbit show. Meaning they bonded and were attached to each other. And I was more the “referee” to make sure they learned how to play nice with each other and respected boundaries.
Establishing structure and harmony
I’m not going to lie. The first week I was concerned that Maggie wasn’t going to accept Orbit. She kept looking at Orbit as in “oh I thought you were visiting – why are you still here?”. Also Maggie was a lot stronger and I had to “referee” their play time. Luckily for me, Orbit came to our home at 14 weeks. She was much stronger and much more well versed in the ways of the dog world. She came from a pack of 4 siblings and 4 adult dogs in her house. She could handle herself. Things that I did included:
- Watching for equality in play. I wanted to make sure Maggie didn’t always dominate and would show her belly and let Orbit take the toy half the time.
- Establishing Rank. I made sure the girls knew the humans were the leaders. Then between them, Maggie was and still is today – #1. She gets fed first. Pet first. Best seat in the house.
- Rewarding Sweetness: When Maggie was sweet on Orbit I made sure I praised her. And that she knew that behaviour was celebrated.
Looking back a year later
What I didn’t mention is the discussion to add a second dog prior to Orbit actually joining us spanned several years. I wanted Dog #2 when Zoey was with us and it never happened. And I started to talk about Dog #2 as soon as we brought Maggie home. My significant other was concerned about how it would change by adding a second dog and now that we have two we agree …. having two dogs is better.
I guess the way to look at it is that when it was just Maggie, the happiness I felt was because of the relationship I had with Maggie. But now that we have Orbit – the happiness I feel is because BOTH of them seem to be happier dogs.
Keep in mind this doesn’t always happen. I have heard of homes where bringing the second dog disrupted the harmony and they eventually had to re-home Dog #2. So careful evaluation of energy and temperament should be be done prior to making the decision.
And what is it like to have the second dog home … now that she’s been with us just a little over a year.
- The two are inseparable. They are always playing. And when they sleep they like to be “touching”. Not necessarily face to face but maybe their backs or behinds or paws will be touching.
- When we go to public off leash dog places, my two tend to stick together and play the most together.
- However when we leave the house un-attended they get into a TON of trouble together. When it was just Maggie nothing ever happened. With the two of them we’ve learned not to have anything on the floor or accessible to them. I’ve brought in packages from Amazon that I put on the floor on my way out. I’ve come back to it destroyed in pieces. Mail too. I think it’s because their favorite game is “tug”. We’ve also learned to move the crates so that they don’t use it to launch themselves onto the kitchen counter. And we move any flower arrangements that they might jump to on the table as well as shoes and slippers. Basically we have to set them up for success.
- Healthwise – outside from Orbit being a vacuum and eating random things our vet visits have been routine. Asides from yeast and allergies that I’m treating holistically and through diet, the girls have been healthy resilient puppies.
- Adventures around town take a bit more coordination. I had to learn how walk two dogs at the same time.
I am very happy to have two dogs. I wouldn’t have it any other way and feel blessed it all worked out between them.