If you're a dog lover and already have one or maybe two dogs, you might find yourself fantasizing about getting another dog, or perhaps you're like me, and you daydream about having a house in the country with land so you can have lots of dogs. I currently have five dogs, but I've had seven at one time, all living on less than a quarter acre in the suburbs of Salt Lake. While I absolutely love and adore all of my dogs, having multiple dogs at once can be challenging.
Looking back now, there are a few things I wish I would have thought about before getting more dogs that could have made the transition from one to two to three to more dogs a little easier!
If you're wondering if you should get another dog, here are a few things to consider first.
1. Add up all of the money you've spent on your dog in the last year. Make sure you include food, treats, supplies, vet bills, doggy daycare, pet sitting, insurance, training, and anything else you spent on your pup last year. Now double that for each dog you're considering adding to your family and make sure you are financially able to support another dog. Would you be able to pay for vet bills if your dog were to break his leg or develop a chronic illness? Can you give your dog high-quality food or can you only afford what amounts to Ramen Noodles in the dog world? What if your dog developed some problem behaviors? Would you be able to afford a trainer to help you address them? While getting another dog is much less expensive than having another child, you still want to make sure you will be able to give the dog the care that he needs before bringing him home.
My five little dogs were not thrilled when I brought their new giant goofy bully of a brother home to meet them!
2. Are your current pets ready for another dog? Dogs may be social creatures, but that doesn't mean they are social with everyone they meet or every dog. Some dogs can be quite picky about who they share their home with and you want to make sure you have a good match. Consider how old the dogs are (older dogs may not like a young puppy jumping all over them), the size of the dogs, their temperaments, play styles, how they feel about sharing toys and treats, and their activity levels. I had five little dogs when I got my first big dog, Cody, and they were not fans of him! He was big and lurpy and young and playful and kind of a pest. He had no concept of his size and just like a typical big brother, he liked to tease! That said, I am still glad I brought him home because I saved him from being euthanized when no one else could, but I also soon realized I couldn't bring home any more dogs. Trying to manage so many different personalities and sizes was pushing my limit as to what I could handle!
Ivy getting some one on one training time with me; a rare treat for her!
3. Make sure your current dog is well-trained before bringing home another one. I didn't really know much about dogs at all when I first started fostering, which then led to adopting. My first little dog was so easy that it didn't occur to me that I needed to do any more than give a new dog a place to sleep and lots of love. This strategy worked fine for the first couple of dogs, but once I got 3 or 4 dogs, a little thing called pack mentality started kicking in, and my dog who didn't really bark much was suddenly yapping at everything the other dogs did. Soon they were all yapping and chasing everything they saw or heard. Walks and hikes became more frustrating and having people over was harder as all of the dogs started picking up on each other's bad habits. If I could turn back time, I would have hired a good positive reinforcement trainer to help me prepare for a new dog by establishing rules and boundaries and managing behavior before it became a problem.
My Motley Crew. From top left to right: Prince, Buster, Ty. Bottom left to right: Ivy, Cody, and Taz the cat.
4. Do you have the time for another dog? In general, dogs are quite needy of your time. I am now accustomed to having 5 sets of eyes watching every move I make, 5 little bodies following me around the house (even to the bathroom!), and 5 balls of fur ready to jump on my lap the second I sit on a chair or couch. There are 5 dogs that need exercise every day plus individual training and attention. Sometimes I think each one of them wishes they were an only child so they could get all of my time and attention. I can't take all of them to PetSmart with me to buy food or to the farmer's market or to my parent's house in Idaho. So we have to take turns and usually go in small groups of 2 or 3, which means some of them have to stay home while others get to go, and that is hard, maybe more on me than on them. I'm not sure, but I know they all give me pleading eyes when I'm getting ready to leave, and they jump/skip to the car when it's their turn to go. (My cat on the other hand takes himself for walks and doesn't even look up when I enter or exit the house. He's as cool as a cucumber! Perhaps consider getting a cat if you don't have the time for two or more needy dogs.)
If after reading this, you still think you are ready for another dog, then by all means, go for it! There are so many dogs who need good homes and if you can give them the time and attention and care they need, you can easily find one that will be a good fit. Who knows? If you prepare well, you could be that lucky dog who ends up with a house in the country and a pack of pups all your own!