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Pip's mum

One dog or two dogs?

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Hi,

 

Apologies if this topic has been discussed before.

 

I would like to get some advice on the pro and cons of having two dogs versus one.

 

We almost got two border collies puppies at the same time...thankfully we dodged that bullet :-)

My male puppy is now 7 month old and we still have the deposit for another puppy with the breeder, so we have the option of getting another one down the track. But I’m happy to forfeit the deposit if having just one dog is the right decision.

 

These are my pros and cons:

 

Pros:

- He always looks so happy when he gets to play with another dog (puppy playdates, offleash areas, etc.)

- He'll always have another dog as company/friend, especially when we are not home or able to spend time with him.

- Two dogs = twice the fun/love :-)

 

Cons:

- More work (especially training?)

- My current puppy is not fully trained to the level I'd like him to be, but has improved a lot. 

- Cost (setup cost and maintenance cost)

- The hard work of raising a puppy is still fresh in my mind :-)

 

Our current arrangement:

Hubby works from home 4 days  a week. I work 3 days a week (possibly 4 next year). We have a 3 year old toddler.

At present, I manage to take him for a walk most morning, ~30 minutes on my work days, and longer on my days off. We also take him for walk some afternoons.

I also try to do a couple of 10 minutes training sessions a day.

Currently he is mostly outside dog, and get supervised inside times. Our aim to train him as an inside/outside dog (integrate with the family), but at present he gets too excited when inside. Though he has improved.

 

Would my dog benefit from having another dog?

My head says 'one dog', but my heart says 'two dogs'.

 

 

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karen15   

my thoughts, totally random, are it's best to wait for your current pup to be about 2, when he is more mature, before getting another pup. The alternative is to ask the breeder if they have an older dog they are wanting to rehome. I rehomed a 3yo cocker to be a friend for my westie pup. That's worked out really well. I contacted a number of westie breeders re an older dog but that never went anywhere. I'd probably have more luck now due to having an ongoing relationship with my boys' breeder. She knows the home he has, and may know people wanting to rehome an older dog. That would be more likely to succeed than having a random stranger ask a breeder about retiring dogs they may want to rehome.

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Roova   

Its good you're thinking this through, the last thing you want is to regret any decisions you make.  

 

I love this article for laying out the thing to consider when keeping two dogs.  The article references litter mates (you did indeed dodge a bullet!) but can be applied to keeping any two dogs together if you're going to do right by both of them.    What to do if you have two..

 

I personally think you would be brave introducing a second young dog to the family if you don't feel your first dog is fully trained.  You are instantly going to lose full focus from either dog if they are allowed to spend all day together.  Often second dogs get even less training that the first  because you don't quite have the time and focus you had with a single dog.  

In regard to your comment that your current dog is mostly kept outside because he's too excitablee inside - this link might give you some tips on promoting calm behaviour?  

 

 

 

 

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I love having two dogs, but I do really miss having one. 

 

If you want to save your sanity, I would definitely not get another puppy until your dog is mature (maybe min 2yo) and well trained. I'd wait until current dog can settle inside, walks with a loose lead, tolerates being home alone (not digging, chewing etc, puppy will copy.) Personally I'd be focussing on getting the current dog's training to be really good first, since once you get another puppy there won't be a lot of one on one time. 

 

Pros:

- They have a friend to play with 

- They are absolutely best friends (after an initial few grumbles)

- I love both of my dogs. With 2 dogs you have two buddies to cuddle and love.

- They tire each other out (but still need to excercise them of course) 

 

Cons:

- Obviously costs a bit more. The initial purchases are less though (you might not need more poo bags, another brush/nail clipper/shampoo and little things like that)

- They get attached to each other so my dogs generally play with one another, and don't play as much with me as we used to. 

- My two are so attached that it is unnecessarily difficult to take them for walks. 

We can't walk them together as they get over excited and silly, so we walk them one by one. One has to be left at home while the other comes with me, so they get a bit of separation anxiety. :( 

- Due to this I can't take them to the dog park or out on adventures because the dog left out gets too sad.

- More shedding haha

 

So I'd highly recommend that you don't have the dogs together all the time, take them out on their own often. And give one a long lasting treat locked up in one area while you train the other. :) 

 

I love both my boys, and having two dogs is great, but having an only dog is also really nice.

My heart wants another though... hehehe. (I wonder if it gets easier with three... Can walk one while the others are together so no-one gets lonely... hmmm) 

Edited by Scrappi&Monty
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We have had a multi dog house for over 20 years and the only con I have found having two than one (we currently have four) is the cost of vet bills and upkeep, the actual management is no harder and none of my dogs have ever bonded more to each other than myself.

 

I however wouldn't add a second dog until the first is fully mature otherwise you are likely to find any bad behaviour will rub off on one another and can make life difficult.

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I'm in the multi dog camp...the pros outweigh the cons for me.  Presently I have three.

On a very selfish note, be warned about having two young guys together.  It will eventually mean you have two elderly dogs together, and the sadness and expenses that come with the last year's and months.  I try to keep at least four years age difference between my dogs.  Also, a young adult dog will often help teach manners to a young pup.

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I think more important than if your dog wants another dog, do you absolutely want another dog in your household?

 

I'm glad I waited the two years to fully train up my current dog, as having one dog being pretty reliable has made introducing the new puppy go much easier. We've still had our bumps from transitioning from a solo dog household to a dual dog household but I can say with certainity: I'm glad it happened and it's working out. While working up to that, she's had special play dates with some assorted other dogs like with @dididog who also made the double dog leap recently.

 

Certainly costs more and hell of a lot more poop and dirt about the house. I take both to dog school which doubles the amount of time training and I'm still walking them separately since the young one cannot walk as far and needs much more breaks. I have not had issues with super attachment to each other, but I figured my older dog will keep loving me most and I make sure the puppy gets his special time with me.

 

and...in some ways it has benefited my old dog (she's finally at a healthy weight! she's more confident around people!) it's had its cons (was not expecting this to make her develop some separation anxiety, so excited she's injured her tail from too much wagging, puppy taught her about counter surfing).

 

But it is working out and that makes me happy.

 

Happy enough that i'm 75% sure I still want that third dog in a couple of years ;). I am keeping the ages staggered out so all dogs are suitably well trained when the new family member comes, and as mentioned above, I'm keenly concerned about having a nice spread of ages.

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karen15   

not sure I'd have three, and have never had two until now. That said, my animals are with me for life, so the numbers I have are limited! My staffy had a cat for a buddy. Cat was 3 years older and was PTS 4 weeks to the day after he was, so I was petless :( it takes me a long time to get over the loss, so it was 9 mths to the current two, who are three years apart. I'll probably have the same ending......

 

my two are a nice age gap and the cocker was a god send with things like toilet training. She'd wee and pup would follow :)

 

walking, the cocker was a puller, now fixed. Westie walks great by himself. Both value my attention over anything else, even though I only got the cocker a month before the pup. Every morning I'm the filling in a dog sandwich on the bed LOL

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juice   

I would work on the bringing him inside before you get another, can you crate train him ? Mine go straight to their crate when they come inside, then i let them out when they are settled.

I have always added another dog when the other dogs were mature so it was very easy as they just follow the trained one and slot right in, however recently added a pup when older dog was not fully trained and its been VERY trying! The older one has gone backwards because of the pup.

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Thanks everyone for the responses. Much appreciated.

 

I have scrapped the idea of getting another puppy, at least until I'm happy with his level of training.

But I am still considering the idea of getting a mature female BC as my puppy's playmate. Would he benefit from this?

I like the idea of them tiring each other out. 

 

I considered sending him to doggy daycare, say once a week, but it's quite costly.

 

I think my wanting to get a second dog is partly because I feel bad that my puppy spend a lot of time alone outside by himself.

I will concentrate on training him to be inside.

It feels overwhelming at times, as he would counter surfing, grab my toddler's toys, etc. Although he now knows to leave my cats alone.

I can't wait till he can just potter around the house calmly.

 

@juice he used to come inside and stay in his crate or playpen when he was smaller. Then he got too big for the crate, and started to jumped out of the playpen :laugh:

 

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karen15   

He'll never potter calmly inside if he isn't allowed inside. He needs to practise his inside manners and can only do that inside. You need to teach him the rules.

 

I know pups can be exhausting and full on. The cocker and I used to hang out for nap time as the westie was full on from the moment he woke up. Nowhere near the size of a BC, so I can appreciate it's challenging.

 

when the westie would get overexcited with visitors, I'd put him on his lead (when they arrived) and use that control to teach him what was expected. You can do that with your pup when you bring him in now. The lead will keep him under control and help to teach him your expectations. I'd set up a nice area that is his, with no toddler mess eg toys, and when he comes inside, that's where he goes with a nice bone or mind toy. Set him up to succeed, so get rid of beans before coming in with a full on game or a training session.

 

leaving him to his own devices in the yard because he can't behave will just lead to a grown dog that can't behave. You need to train him and show him what you want him to do. You won't let your toddler grow up without rules or leave it in its room for doing something you don't want it to. You shouldn't do that to your dog either. Getting another dog and doing the same will just double the trouble IMO

 

As I said above, I have the two dogs and deliberately got an older dog as a companion. My expectation of that older dog is not that she is a mother and teacher of the pup. That has always been my job. She's made things easier in some ways, as having basic manners she could do commands like toilet. However if I didn't train the pup having her would have made no difference to his behaviour eg she's lovely with visitors, sits calmly etc, but the westie had to be taught to control his exuberance.

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Roova   

I would be going back to basics with him, its sounds like a few ground rules were missed when he was a pup?  These are all just behaviours which need a bit of management on your behalf for a great outcome. :)   With future pups its worth having a think about what behaviour you want to see in your adult dog because you need to start training toward this from day one of pup coming home. Like children, dogs don't just know how to behave, you have too teach them and continually reward behaviour you want to see again.  If I were to offer you one tip it would be 'what gets rewarded gets repeated'.   These are some of my thoughts about your problems...

 

Counter surfing - now the problem exists the best solution for breaking the habit is to deny the opportunity.  So no tempting food left on the bench, possibly a baby gate to deny access to the kitchen or maybe pop him on lead and attached to you when he's inside (at least for a while).  I would have teeny tiny treats chopped up and always on you so you're ready to capture and reward behaviour you like.  You want to praise and reward within a couple of seconds of a behaviour occuring though. Think of an opposite behaviour you'd like to see and aim to 'create' it. For example you could have a mat at the entrance to the kitchen and regularly treat for being on there.   This keeps him out from under your feet, he can still watch whats going on, but its worth his while staying on the mat because of random treats and praise coming his way.

 

Grabbing your todders toys:  This one is difficult.  I think its wrong to expect him to know this isn't allowed so best to keep toddler on the other side of an exercise pen \ baby gates when he or she is playing with their toys. Anything you don't want your dog chewing or accessing needs to be kept out of reach and instead supply things you DO want him to chew, rip play or be occupied with.  

 

General training: You've chosen a very smart dog breed there. Smart dogs left to their own devices can often develop what we see as behavioural issues like barking, running laps, jumping, digging, chewing inappropriately or other issues etc.   You can keep his brain active by regular brain training and enrichment activities with simple obedience or trick training. Even something like a flirt pole can teach great self control whilst providing physical enrichment. Everything an adult can do, so can a puppy but in short fun training sessions.  Don't wait until you have a naughty dog, but start today and it helps to have a plan what you’re going to achieve each week so the task isn’t too big.  A dog like this will thrive on being trained so maybe you could consider joining a dog club which might lead to dog sports like agility, fly ball, dock diving, herding and so on.  Its good for you both to have a purpose.

 

Buying a dog to keep a bored dog company is a recipe for two bored dogs.  Before doing this maybe consider what you're doing for your current dog?  How often is he offered a big meaty bone (non weight bearing), an empty milk container with a handful of kibble inside, his meal stuffed in a kong, nylabones, antlers (every now and then), puzzle toys, treats hidden around the place for him to find or other scent games, a cardboard box taped up with treats a toy or a chew item inside, 2nd hand soft toys for ripping up and destroying, a tub full of balls with treats dropped in, a sandpit for digging with chew items buried to be found etc.   Remember predictability leads to boredom so rotate toys and things you offer him. Generally the things you see your dog get enjoyment from are what you try and provide. Some like digging, some eating, some chewing or ripping etc.

 

Pottering around the house calmly:  you don't have to wait years for him to mature and slow down to see this.  You can train the calm behaviour you want to see right now.  The capturing calmness video supplied earlier can have this a reality for you I promise!  It definitely works because I used it for my own pup and adult dog I had at the time.  I now have a mat at the entrance to the kitchen which my dog lies on with head on paws waiting for the random treat coming her way.  There is also a mat in the entrance to the hall as she can't go in the bedrooms.  Whenever I come out of a room and she's lying on the mat I 100% of the time give her a scritch and tell her she's a good girl.  When she was learning this I kept treats at the entrance to the hall so I always had a some  handy to place between her front legs when I passed her.  You have to reward the behaviour you like if you want to see it continue.

 

Crates - why not buy a bigger one, an exercise pen with taller sides or use baby gates to block access?  (Its less of an expense to buy adult size beds and crates when you purchase a pup as they don't stay pups long).  A crate should always be a place of enjoyment for your dog though, not a punishment or a place they have to spend hours of boredom.  Be careful to carry out crate training in a way which means you dog doesn't bark, chew on the wire or get anxious when in there. If he is already like that some tips are here.  Good luck :)

 

 

 

Edited by Roova
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juice   

Buy a bigger crate?

Can you baby gate areas so he can come in and just be restricted to where he goes?

The more he comes in the calmer he will get, just take small steps, don't expect him to come inside and know how to behave, reward him for going to his crate and being calm.

Getting an older dog may help, but make sure it can cope with a puppy annoying it, and check it hasn't come from a kennel setup as then you will be teaching it the same house rules too.

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When I get new foster pups they're always tethered to their bed or crated when inside for at least a few weeks. Then they start to get more (supervised) freedom while continuing to reinforce the 'place' command to keep them on their bed when I need to. 

Try putting his bed next to your couch and then use his lead around the foot of the couch to tether him there. Reward reward reward while he's there and calm. Ignore if he spazzes out. 


Start with short periods then build up the length of time. When you start taking the tether up train him 'place' or 'on your bed' or whatever cue you want to use by saying it when you take him there and rewarding him. He'll start to get it pretty quick. 

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Tassie   

Good on you for dodging the two puppies at the same time!   I'm definitely in the 2 dogs camp .. that's my council limit, and to be honest, I think it's my limit in terms of time and attention I can give to them, although that's probably because of their "careers".

 

Definitely in the crate/baby gate/larger xpen school of thought.   They love their special places, and it makes management so easy, and they're more inclined to get used to spending time just chilling.  As they get older and more settled, the xpen isn't so necessary, although my 8+ year old BC still chooses to sleep in his crate every night (even though the door's been off it for 4 years :laugh:.)

 

Not sure when kids start school in your area, but might be a plan to think about waiting till your toddler is going to school at least a couple of days a week.   Gives you more time to be working on the new one.

 

Personally, I love having one of each sex ..so your idea about a retired female could be a good one (though I'd be wanting one that had not just been stuck in a kennel all the time.)  The disadvantage is that your pup might learn stuff you don't want him to learn.   My preference would be to do a bit more with the one you've got, especially about calm behaviour in the house, and then think about a pup - probably a girl, so that you can then apply the successful training to her .. and you'll already have the crates, xpens etc. .   If your boy dog by then is behaving nicely, you'll find a pup will be doing quite a bit of copying .. got that happening now in my house.

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juice   

having a crate inside is a good idea with a child too, it gives the dog a peaceful place later if it wants to be left alone. you can have area's where the dog can go and where he can sleep in peace away from a small child.

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Thanks again for the advice. 

I sometimes felt a bit overwhelmed about the whole thing, so specific advice and areas to work on are really helpful :thumbsup:

 

I've been taking him inside, tethered to the cat post. And he's been able to chill for a good duration (until he saw a bit of carpet hanging on the cat post and got too interested in it :-)).

So I'm happy that he's able to be inside more.

In the mean time, I will concentrate on teaching him calm behaviour.

 

Here's a picture of the (lovable) rascal :-)

IMG_2143.JPG

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Roova   

He is gorgeous!   If you want him to sit quitely can you offer him a stuffed kong or some other item he can be kept occupied with?  Unless they're tired or sleepy a forced 'chill' may not work for long if the animal is bored.  If he's finding something to do like chewing a bit of carpet you can probably judge he's not really enjoying sitting doing nothing.  Don't forget to regularly walk over and praise \ treat him if he's sitting nicely - it makes it more worth his while to sit there uncomplainingly :) 

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Awesome work!! He's gorgeous! You can periodically reward him for calm behaviour while he's there - going and giving him a (gentle and calm) pat, giving him a treat, and just speaking lovely nice happy rewarding gentle words to him while he's there. 

 

You'll get there! :)

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