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Should You Get Your Dog a Companion

Picture of two dogs at the lake

All dog owners want to do what’s best for their dog. One question I hear a lot from unsure dog owners is if they should get their single dog a friend. This is a difficult question to ask because whether your dog would do well with a companion is totally down to your specific dogs’ behavior.

Dogs are pack animals, so typically will do well with companions. For them, numbers equal safety, so companions will give them a higher sense of safety, especially when you are not around. However, some dogs are already happy with the current dynamics of their pack – you and your dog. Adding a new dog to the mix could cause problems. This could especially be a problem if the new dog you introduce is a puppy, and your dog is older. Your dog will most likely enjoy its relaxation time when you are away, and an energetic puppy may put it’s nose out of line (metaphorically speaking) if it wants to play 24/7. Also, if your dog is used to getting all your attention, it could become quite jealous at having to share you with another dog.

If you are considering getting your dog a companion to help it with behavioral problems, the short answer to this is “don’t do it”. If you dog is misbehaving, these problems should be corrected before introducing another dog, as introducing a new pack member is quite a risk to take and could end up increasing the behavioral problems that your current dog has. If you want to introduce another dog because you fear that your dog may be stressed, the answer would also be no. Adding a new dog could increase your dogs’ stress levels. Any dog with behavioral problems that concern you would benefit more from seeing a professional dog trainer first. If your dog is misbehaving when you are away at work, try giving it a long walk before you leave to tire it out. A companion might not help this bad behavior and could just be another dog who will learn to chew up your sofa when you’re at work.

If you don’t have a dog yet but are planning on getting one or two, I would suggest getting two together. This way, your dogs’ pack is already established, and it will have its’ lifelong friend by its’ side during every waking moment. They will be able to share experiences and give one another the feeling of security that many dogs yearn for in their pack.

Let me tell you a quick story; I knew a lady who had a very old dog. All his friends died, and he was feeling very lonely. One day in a strange turn of events, she ended up coming home with a dog she rescued the same day from a bad home. This dog was young and full of life. The older dog was incredibly unhappy with his new housemate at first. There were so many fights that got quite aggressive at times. This lady worked closely with the dogs to strengthen their bond and overtime they became used to one another. As time went by, they began to depend on one another. If one dog went to the vet, the other would cry at home and become ecstatic when its’ companion returned. This story shows that, even though the lady didn’t have much of a choice with her quick integration of the two dogs, with enough time and effort the two dogs eventually learnt to co-habit very happily.

If you are considering getting a new dog to live with your current dog, it is a good idea to make sure that the new dog is relatively low energy and submissive so that its’ order in the pack is already established; your current dog will be the alpha K-9 in your pack, and introducing a dog who also wants to be the alpha is a recipe for disaster. A lot of people think that it is a good idea to get a dog a companion, and if you take the necessary precautions, it will be a happy ending for your whole pack. Your dogs will have the feeling of comfort and safety while you are away at work or running errands because they have their special companion. If both dogs are well trained and understand their place in the pack it is unlikely that you will experience problems.

One more question that I often hear is that someone had two dogs, but one passed away. They want to know if it is a good idea to get their surviving dog a companion. The reason not to do this is that your dog might associate the passing of his old companion with the new dog. One reason to do this is that your dog is already used to living with a companion, and a new companion will prevent it from becoming lonely. The ultimate answer to this question lies with your dog’s personality, and you should always do what you think is best for your dog, if you follow any necessary precautions when doing so.

The overall answer to the question “Should I Get a Companion for My Dog” completely lies with your current situation. You don’t have any dogs yet? Consider getting two dogs when you do. Your dogs’ companion died? You think your dog might want a companion? Asses all the factors of the current situation before deciding. Dogs’ do well with friends, and in the right conditions, it could be a match made in heaven.

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