Getting a second dog?

A few years ago, with the help of a number of threads on this board, I rescued a lovely (big) pit bull dog and continue to be utterly delighted with him.

I have since moved into a house with my partner, who is equally delighted with him (and the feeling is completely mutual). We have made noises about possibly getting another dog. (I think I have dog pangs like other women have child pangs, but that is a matter for a different thread.)

I have never lived with two dogs so I have no idea what this would entail.


  • We don’t have a fenced in back yard (i.e. I can’t just open the back door and let him run out to pee) so he gets three walks a day. We would like to fix the backyard situation, but as it would involve not only installing fence but also cutting a back door into our bedroom, it is a long term project.

  • My dog is completely not dog-aggressive, and he’s usually happy to let other dogs be Alpha. He’s a bit spoiled tho, and “emotionally needy” and “sensitive” (in the words of vets and trainers) so altho I am not worried about disagreements, he might become a bit bratty if he had to share our attention.

  • My boyfriend wants another big dog. I’d be happy with a little one, but I already have a dog and I would like to split the expense with him, so I have to respect his opinion on the subject (sigh). (We would both adore another pit bull, but it’s illegal in this province to have more than one.) What’s it like to have two big dogs? Would there be any room left for us at all on the couch? What breed has a personality like my dog, but who doesn’t look like a pit bull at all?

  • I have a fantastic dog walker who works in dog rescue, so she has piles of contacts with dogs to spare. She would no doubt would be happy to set us up with a buddy for him.

So there it is. Talk me in or out of it.

After I posted this, someone sent me a link to a Youtube video of pets and a Roomba. I’m amused by how many of these pet/Roomba videos have been uploaded.

My partner e-mailed to suggest that this would be almost as good as getting another dog. I am not unconvinced.

I’d love for some insight from two-dog families, too. Is it foolish to think that a dog will become less needy with the addition of a friend? I’d love to believe that’s true, but I have a feeling I’ll just end up with twice the neediness.

I’m also interested in other people’s answers (sorry cowgirl - no advice yet!)

I have a dog who is, simply put, a big baby. She’s spoiled rotten by me and my parents, she sleeps with me, and she is literally big (83 lbs).

I want to get her a “friend” but I feel like she’ll just be stressed out and resentful of a new dog, and I’ll have two unhappy pups and an unhappy me.

But, I keep thinking about it. So I am interested in what you all have to say.

I call it my Pupternal instincts.

We’ve pretty much always had one dog. Right now we’ve got an 11 month old golden - Clover, our 3d golden. Last Friday we got a 7 week old golden pup - Buster T. We could not have imagined it could be so nice. Clover is so much happier having a little buddy, and Buster seems to be training amazingly fast with such a good role model.

Only have 3 days experience, but right now I have to say I imagine I will always have 2 dogs.

We don’t allow our dogs on the furniture, so that is your call. Could always get a bigger couch! :wink:

I know plenty of people who have 1 big and 1 small dog.

If you want a large non-pit, some possibilities might be ridgeback, vizla, shepard, boxer. Many folks recommend getting one of each gender.

Bitz the Wondermutt, my beloved Labrott, had been with other dogs her entire life until she came to live with me at age 3. She was 7 when her little sister Sydney the Bulldog showed up as a 9 week old pup.

They’ve gotten on like gangbusters and love to wrestle, snuggle and clean each other.

The most important thing is to introduce your dog and any potential sibling dog. Do it in a neutral setting, like a park, a time or two and then in your house. That reduces the likelihood of any territoriality, which, while it doesn’t sound like a high probability, is still something to consider and prevent.

Happy hound hunting. I strongly recommend having at least two dogs. They keep each other company and make sure you’re doling out the proper amount of love and affection to each.:smiley:

We had one dog and she was driving us crazy with all her neediness. We got a second dog and it is so much better. She now has a buddy and they play all day. Two dogs is much easier than one.

Two dogs is good. We almost always have two dogs, and big ones, too (greyhounds). I think most dogs enjoy the company of their own kind. Ours are spoiled but are pretty good at sharing the humans’ attention.

As for couch space, you’ll either need a bigger one or you’ll have to teach them to stay off or get down at your command - our big male hound can take up the entire thing all by himself.

Two dogs can be a wonderful thing.

It can also be a total nightmare, depending on the dogs involved.

A dog that seemed wonderful with other dogs can turn out to be really possessive of his stuff and his people when another invades his home and his space (rather than just playing out at the dogpark or out in the backyard with a visiting “friend”).

Really, it’s a matter of pack dynamics and how the dogs are introduced to one another. It’s also a matter of training, people involved, the dog temperaments and how much work you’re willing to put into it. Sometimes you just luck out :slight_smile: Pitts can do really well with other dogs. Others will be naturally dog-aggressive (it’s sometimes simply in their nature – it used to be in the breed characteristics, really, and they shouldn’t be faulted for that!)

We have a multi-dog household and like it a lot – for one, when a beloved pet passes on, the house isn’t empty. That, in itself, is a huge blessing. Also, dogs ARE social animals. They seem to enjoy some company. They do play with each other. It is more work, but not by a lot. It is an expense, however, and you do have to keep that in mind.

Consider your dog’s temperament, talk to your vet about it, and talk to your trainers about it. Ask them what KIND of dog (breed/mutt mixes, age, size, temperament) would be the best fit for your dog. Then, armed with that knowledge and advice, go to the humane society and ask for the help of one of their volunteers and/or one of their volunteer trainers to select one of their dogs to add to your family :slight_smile:

We have six dogs ranging in size from 45 lbs. to 125 lbs. All are rescue dogs of mixed breed, and they all get along fine for the most part. The one drawback of having so many is they sometimes develop a pack mentality, which can be bad for our cats. We live on 2.5 acres, so space is not really an issue. Even though the yard is not fenced, we have been using a radio fence with great success. The “fence” is a wire that runs around the perimeter of the yard, and the dogs wear a collar that warns them when they get too close. If they don’t retreat, they get a small electrical shock. I have experienced the shock from the collar, and while it certainly gets your attention, it is not harmful. I would agree that for the most part, having more than one dog is good for both dogs, depending on the individuals.

I have 5 large dogs. That’s what happens when you get pets for your pets. They all get along well, and like people have their personal buddies in the group. I like having multiple dogs in part because they need something to do when Im not there. When I add a dog, I put the new dog in the outdoor run and let the other dogs get used to it. Then I bring it out and there’s usually some sniffing and psturing, which might require a “knock it off!” from me. Within a couple days it’s like they’ve always been together. I say it works because I’m the biggest bitch in the pack.


I have to tell you that all the pit bull sites I frequent advise not to leave a pit bull and another dog alone, even if they get along.

We have two dogs – an American Pit Bull Terrier and a mix, probably AmStaff/Bassett/Beagle. Both girls. The APBT is smallish (35 pounds) and the mix is mid-sized (55 pounds) and solidly built.

Our girls get along fine, but there was a substantial adjustment period. The mix is dog-aggressive and we had to work with her to get her to accept the little pit bull. The little one, despite being an unmixed pit bull, hasn’t a bone of aggression in her and often licks her big sister to comfort her when she’s nervous. She’s definitely more of a pack animal than her “big sister,” who’s slightly more a one-person dog, starry-eyed for my wife.

They now play well together but we still do not leave them alone together for more than a trip downstairs to the laundry room – we crate the little one (she doesn’t seem to mind).

There’s no indication they’d fight except that the big one sometimes gets annoyed and snaps, wanting to be left alone, and the little one sometimes gets zoomie and runs around like a nutball without thinking. If both those events occurred at once, it might not turn out well.

Frankly the crating works well; she feels secure there, and goes in voluntarily most of the time. At night, they sleep in side-by-side beds next to our bed.

We’re probably being too cautious. I only mention this because the views of experienced dog people seem worth some thought.

My first impulse as far as breed recommendation goes was an American Bulldog – I’ve seen some very cute photo sets of paired pit bulls and American bulldogs. But the AB might look a little too pit-bull-like for your province’s busybodies. Google some images if you’re not already familiar.

Best of luck to you. Despite our caution in crating, we find it rewarding to have multiple dogs. Our girls are sleeping curled up together right now. :slight_smile:

Let’s see…we started out with a cat, then got a second cat, then a dog, then a second dog. After that, we lost a cat, lost a dog, got another cat, lost a cat, got a cat, got a third cat, and recently lost a dog…

So for the last 12-13 years, we’ve mostly had 2 dogs and 2 cats at a time, with a total of 8 different animals in the mix (if I’ve got my count right). We’ve never had any problems with any of them getting along. There have been a few combinations that didn’t really gel, but they mostly just ignored each other. As I type this, we have our dog (11 year old Lab/Border Collie mix) and two of our cats (a one year old and the new kitten) all sleeping peacefully together on the bed with us.

FYI, one of the dogs was a purebred Basset Hound (which we got as a rescue); the others have either been from the SPCA or, in the case of two of the cats, strays who ‘adopted’ us.

I think the biggest thing with dogs is to make absolutely certain that they know who the alpha is, and that must be you. Once you establish yourself as the pack leader, everything else should fall into place…

We have two dogs, a basset hound and a scottish terrier. We had our first scotty, Fergie, from 92-2004, and our second from 2006-, while our basset has been with us from 96-current (Shelby is now 13 years old, which I hear is old for a basset).

Anyway, there was a noticable decline in Shelby’s general all-around… happiness… for want of a better word, after Fergie passed away. They weren’t good friends, just packmates, but as a poster mentioned above, they do like and appreciate the presence of their own kind in a way that we cannot provide. Shelby has definitely improved since we got the puppy: Mackie keeps Shelby on her toes and will force the older dog to play with her… which is a good thing, of course.

So, yes, imho, getting a second dog is a positive for the other dog.

Thanks everyone. This is very encouraging.

I’m not particularly worried about Jimbo (current pit bull) because

  • he does get off the couch whenever I tell him to. He has been known to sneak up on the bed when nobody is looking, tho, so additional nighttime vigilance would be required.

  • we have had canine friends over before and he is happy to share his stuff. Or at least, he is happy to sit there and look worried as other dogs take over his stuff, and then make do with whatever is left over for him.

  • he’s been physically attacked a few times and his response was to stop dead and then hide behind my legs. Although - it occurs to me just now - when he sees an uninvited animal on his property (cat, raccoon) he does flip out. He has never flipped out at a dog tho, even the ones who deserved it.

I’d probably crate a new dog anyway, until s/he gets accustomed to the place. Jimbo was crated at my old place, but at the new place he broke out of the crate so often that he busted his lower right canine tooth and, eventually, the crate. He’s had no problems other than that, but I hope that another dog wouldn’t be so unhappy in a crate in this place … I never did figure out what the problem was.

We bred pugs, and had several bitches around, so we were used to having a multi-dog family. Then we stopped breeding, and ended up losing our two older girls, so the youngest girl was left alone. She stopped eating, became a clingon dog, and generally drove us nuts. We brought home a Rott/pit mix from the shelter who thinks our pug is her best friend/mom/playmate. The Rott cannot go outside to pee without the pug with her. She must snuggle with the pug. And the pug tolerates her, like the grumpy old lady that she is now, but she never leaves the Rott’s side, and must do everything she does. It’s been a great relationship, but I would worry about a smaller dog because the Rott doesn’t have a very good sense of knowing how strong she is.

We got our springer spaniel Phyllis at 8 weeks. Two years later we brought home her sister (literally – same parents) Dottie, also 8 weeks.

The first day, Phyllis ignored the new puppy completely. “What puppy? I don’t see any puppy.”

The second day, it seemed to click for her that this was HER puppy, OUR puppy, here to stay. From then on she was mother and mentor, allowing Dottie to beat up on her as puppies will do, until Dottie was big enough to properly clock when she got out of line. We didn’t have to actively train Dottie as much because she just aped everything Phyllis did.

Now they’re best buds and rarely separated unless one is going to the vet alone. I dread the day that one of them dies . . . we’ll all be heartbroken.

Via Craigslist or similar, you can easily find for free old futons, bean bags, or fabric-covered foam rubber pads.

Get one of these, put it next to your couch, and teach the dogs that this is their very own couch, for them to sit on whenever you sit on your human couch. They will usually take to that pretty quickly.

I’ve got those (very useful for training), but there’s no room for it in this house. I do have other furniture he can sit on, and does, when we are taking up the entire couch, and he’s always happy on the floor too.

Am I the only one who loves snuggling with my dog on the couch? I’m just wondering if I’ll be able to snuggle with two.