I don't know who needs to read this, but I'm honestly looking to save as many people as I possibly can with this article. The holidays are coming, which means so are the puppies and rescued shelter dogs (which is great). But, it also means that there is a huge potential to go home with two dogs instead of the intended one dog. Or maybe you have already decided on two because you want to get a companion for the first. Please don't! I beg of you, and I do so for the sake of your sanity as well as your family's. Here are the five reasons why.
1. It's double EVERYTHING.
This is pretty obvious but think about that. No, really, think about it... Double the food, the poop, pee, mess, stress, attention, training, and time! The optimistic side of me thinks double the love and fun too, but I'm a realist first and foremost. Realistically, it's challenging to handle two completely untrained dogs, even for some experienced trainers and handlers. Why make it twice as difficult to raise a puppy when one is hard enough? One new dog or puppy requires a lot of your time and attention if you're doing it right. Are you ready to spend twice the money to board them when you go out of town or to the vet for a regular check-up? Two dogs barking, whining, jumping, or chewing on your shoes? One for each foot, I guess?
2. Monkey see monkey do.
Dogs have a unique ability to mimic other dogs (and people). If you have two dogs running around together like crazies, they will only feed off of each other and negatively influence each other. Bad behavior mimicked only breeds more bad behavior. Your best bet is to get one dog, train them and establish clear rules and boundaries and THEN, after about ten months to a year, get the second dog so they can easily pick up on the good behaviors the older dog has. You can literally cut your training time for the second dog in half just by having a well trained, well-mannered dog to "show them the ropes," as they say. Some sled dogs, detection dogs, and even protection dogs are first taught through the observation of older, more experienced dogs before official training by humans begins because it's the smart thing to do. Why fight against nature?
3. You could potentially weaken the bond between you and both dogs.
Birds of a feather flock together. I'm sure you've heard this saying before. Well, it couldn't be more accurate and apply to a more critical situation. Puppies and adult dogs that are constantly engaging with and stimulating each other tend to form powerful bonds. Of course, this isn't necessarily bad, but the reason this is not good news for you is that when your dogs are together, they will more than likely not give a crap about you. In any dog-human relationship, YOU want to be the center of attention and the most valuable thing to your dog(s), not the companionship of other dogs, even if they live together. In addition to that, they can quickly develop severe separation anxiety whenever they are apart from one another, not exactly something to get excited about.
4. You can't train them together.
Yes, you read that correctly. You have to train dogs separately, then bring them together once the behaviors are reliable and under control. The reason is that the second dog becomes a huge distraction for the first, and vise versa. You would have to keep one dog out of the picture while working with the other and then switch to effectively train either. Once one of the dogs fully understands the command sit (for example) you can bring in the other dog to use as a distraction for the first. Imagine trying to get two unruly dogs that know nothing, to listen to you at the same time, it's like herding cats - cue the Benny Hill theme song. The struggle is real folks, believe me. Save yourself and keep your sanity.
5. Chances are you will end up rehoming one or both dogs
Please don't take this as an attack on your love for dogs, dedication to dogs, or your character. I've just seen and heard it happen way too often. Taking in two untrained dogs or puppies at once can be very overwhelming for anyone. While rehoming obviously wouldn't be your goal or intention when getting both dogs, there's only so much you can handle or deal with. Don't put yourself in a position to feel guilty or let down your family by having to rehome or surrender your dog. Start with one, train them and set the tone, and then get the second. Trust me.
I understand that the idea of two dogs, puppy or full-grown adult, sounds great with all the potential for cuddles and wagging tails. But what you imagine isn't always how things play out. We all know that any great relationship requires time, patience, and lots of hard work. Dog's are no different. I implore you to step out of the fairytale for a moment and consider the reality of bringing home two dogs. It may not be a nightmare, but it certainly won't be all fun and games. With all of that said, there is one exception for me and that I must acknowledge and that is two dogs in a shelter that are inseparable and need to be rehomed together. If you are determined on taking two dogs home, find that inseparable pair and give them a happily ever after.
If you have benefitted from this article or know someone who would, please consider sharing!