Eight is Enough

“Should I get another dog?”  is a question that most dog owners ask themselves in various situations in life.

ONE – After the loss of a dog, the unavoidable question is “should I get another dog?”  Some people cannot live with the emptiness created by the loss of a dog companion and must have another dog within days. Others need to mourn the loss for a time before they start looking for another dog. Yet others wait until the “right” dog walks into their lives. 

Before that next dog, one needs to ask: “Has my lifestyle changed since getting my previous dog?” “Will I have time to train and acclimate the new dog to my house and lifestyle?”   “Can I still handle a puppy?”  “Should I get the same breed or look at another?” Only you can answer these questions.  Recently I have seen a rash of seniors getting puppies but not remembering the work and the physical demands of raising one. This has been complicated by the seniors picking big, energetic breeds.

One also has to realize that each dog has its own personality.  Fido will not be the same as Rover. So many “next” dogs suffer from not measuring up to the previous dog’s existence. No two dogs are alike and if Rover was the perfect dog that’s a lot of pressure on Fido.

When one hopes that PupPup is indeed better than Doggy, one needs to examine the question if Doggy was bad, why?  Did Doggy get in the way because he was not trained? Was he tied out or in his crate all day? Was he physically ill and you could not to afford the veterinarian bills? There are many scenarios where people do not realize that PupPup will not be better than Doggy because the circumstances in the household have not improved in regard to being dog friendly.

TWO – Should I get another dog to keep my first dog company and have someone to play with? This question usually arises when people are having trouble with the first dog.  The dog is usually bouncing off the walls in the house and may actually be destructive. Getting a second dog will not solve these problems. In fact it may double them. It is wishful thinking to hope that the second dog will only learn “good” things from your first dog. In fact you now have two dogs to train, walk, feed, vaccinate, license, etc.

This question also comes up when families lose one of their dogs. Since they feel the loss they think the dog left behind feels the loss in the same way.  You need to carefully observe the remaining dog for a few weeks. On more than one occasion I have seen this dog bloom and grow more confident in cases where this dog was seen to be shy and dependant on the other dog for comfort and leadership.

When a family’s first dog ages many wonder if they should bring in a puppy or another dog.  Whether or not one gets another dog at this point is a very personal question. In my life I have brought in a puppy that has helped keep my senior dog alive.  The puppy kept him active and added enjoyment back into his life.  However, I have had the opposite happen too. The puppy was too much for my blind older dog (who up until that moment I had no idea was blind).  I found a fantastic home for the puppy.

In any of these cases, your first dog may not like the second (immediately or over time).  There is no way to guarantee that your dogs will get along. 

With three dogs you are now dealing with the possibility of two of the dogs ganging up on the third. How will you walk all three?  Can you afford all the things needed to keep three dogs healthy and well-mannered?

THREE – Should I get another dog usually comes up as a question as one or both of the current dogs are aging. Whether or not a third dog is a good idea in this situation can only be determined case by case. Sometimes getting a third dog is a matter of wanting to rescue a dog, finding a dog to fit one’s sport (agility, flyball, freestyle, go-to-ground, etc.), or just wanting that third dog.

Is this play or the beginning of something else?
photo by Mary Beggs

FOUR, FIVE, SIX – There is a big difference between having one dog and adding a second. There is also a big difference adding a third dog.  Adding a fourth, fifth and even sixth have their own impact. One has to be careful since you now have a pack in your house, there is more of a chance they all will NOT get along, more expense from food to veterinary care; not to mention logistics, space and an increase in your time to take care of them.

Will your six dogs be able to do this? This took lots and lots of TRAINING!
Photo by Mary Beggs

 SEVEN, EIGHT – Personally I cannot see having more than seven dogs and question the people that do. This does not include breeders that might have a litter around. When people start talking about eight dogs, I wonder if they are hoarders.  An interesting question is how many dogs does one have in order to be considered a hoarder?

Please just make sure that your next dog, no matter how many you have, fits your lifestyle!