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  • Taryn Blyth

When is the right time to get a new dog?


Many people want to have more than one dog so that the dogs can have each other for company. I do think that dogs that live with other socially healthy dogs tend to be better off in some ways - they often learn to share their toys, personal space and their owner in a way that “only dogs” struggle with and they have plenty of opportunity to practice canine communication and other social behaviours. Dogs really do seem to enjoy the company of other dogs and the presence of another dog may be comforting when the owner is out. Multiple dog households simply provide an extra dimension to a dog’s life - an added social dimension as it were.

However, there are plenty of single dogs that live very happy and fulfilled lives and there are some dogs that simply don’t get on well with other dogs in their home. It is important to consider whether your dog is sociable and enjoys the company of other dogs, before deciding to add to the family.

While it is up to the individual to make an informed decision about whether a single dog or multiple dogs is right for their home, I do believe that there is a right time to add a second dog and that doing so at the wrong time can cause many problems.

I firmly believe that one should wait until the first dog is at least 2 years old before getting another dog. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. The smaller the age gap between the dogs, the more chance there is that they will end up fighting over resources (owner, attention, chews, toys, space etc)

  2. Getting two puppies at the same time usually results in the puppies bonding with each other and ignoring the humans in the family completely.

  3. Training two puppies at the same time is extremely difficult, because they usually distract each other or can’t bear to be separated during training.

  4. Socialising two puppies is difficult, because they usually stick together so much that they don’t mix with other dogs

  5. If one waits until the first pup is 6 months old, one will then sit with a young teenager and a tiny puppy and the teenage dog (who is going through the most challenging and unstable time in his or her life) will have far more influence on the puppy than the owner. The puppy can learn alls sorts of bad habits from the teenager.

  6. If one waits until the first dog is 12-18 months old you will then have one dog who is just starting to find his or her feet (social behaviour is beginning to stabilise, the dog is starting to remember all the things you taught him as a puppy and is responding to you more readily) when life is turned upside down by a new arrival. Often the older dog will regress and his behaviour will destabilise (he may join in with more puppy-like activities or feel he needs to guard the pup from other dogs).

However, if one waits until the first dog is a socially confident and content dog whose behaviour is predictable and fairly stable, the arrival of a new puppy will have far less effect on his behaviour. He will play and bond with the pup, but his main focus will likely remain on the owner.


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Kommetjie Canine College

Kommetjie

Cape Town

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