Are There Benefits of Having Two Dogs?

Should you get another dog?  This is a common question we get from our pet parents at our veterinary clinic. We have personal experience in this area as we too asked that question when we were just starting out and much younger.  We were first time pet owners and were so busy. But we couldn’t help but wonder. Are there benefits of having two dogs?

In this article, you will learn the benefits and cons of having more than one dog.

Our youngest male chocolate Labrador Retriever with a playmate, a Canine Companions for Independence service dog who is a yellow Labrador Retriever who lived with us for many months. They were so happy playing they weren't thrilled with stopping to take a picture. Them playing together is one of the benefits of having two dogs.
Here’s our youngest male Chocolate Lab (left) with a playmate, a Canine Companions for Independence service dog (Yellow Lab & Golden Retriever) that stayed with us for several months.

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Is it beneficial to have 2 dogs?

There are many potential benefits to having two dogs, including:

  1. Companionship: Dogs are social animals and can become lonely if left alone for extended periods of time. Having two dogs can provide companionship for each other when you are not home. We experienced this firsthand.  When we were just starting out, we got our first dog.  He was our four legged fur baby.  When we would come home exhausted from a long day of work, he was ready for action.  He had mostly slept all day so when we came home, all he wanted to do was play.  Further, since dogs are social animals, he saw us as his part of his pack and showed signs of separation anxiety. He chewed on our new kitchen table’s legs and even ate a chunk of the wall where we kept him.  When we got our second dog, he fell in love and they were instantly best friends for life. And best of all, the separation anxiety symptoms disappeared.
  2. Exercise: Having two dogs can provide additional motivation for exercise and playtime. This can be especially beneficial if you have a high-energy breed. Our first male was a chocolate Labrador Retriever.  Labs are sporting dogs like a Golden Retriever that have been bred for their stamina. We found that once we got our new dog, the two were pretty exhausted by the time we got home from work.  We could see the evidence of their playing and they definitely weren’t full of stored up energy from sleeping all day waiting for us to return.  When our second dog was a puppy, our first dog was 5 years old. The pairing worked well because he was young enough to put up with an energetic puppy.  And yes, she was also a chocolate Labrador Retriever. 
  3. Training and obedience: Training and socializing two dogs together can be easier and more efficient than training them separately. This was a big one for us.  Our first dog was very highly trained since the day we brought him home.  He did Obedience Trials but had “too much puppy” in him.  He was overly friendly the judges said. But he was super well trained.  The interesting thing we found when we got our second dog, she simply imitated our male. We would command him to sit and she would sit just like he did.  Every command we gave him, she copied him and we rewarded them both with dog treats. So getting a second dog didn’t mean we had to train her as much as our first. For more information on how to train your dogs, here’s our article 7 Commands for Dogs – Dog Training Tips, Tricks & Secrets.
  4. Security: Some people find that having two dogs can provide an added sense of security, as dogs can be territorial and may bark to alert their owners of potential threats. We experienced this one first hand as our first dog was just a lovable fur baby.  He wasn’t neutered, so we thought he’d be great to protect us and our home.  But his wagging tail and happy personality wouldn’t scare anyone.  Our little girl however, was much more protective of not only us, but her big brother.  She was all of 70 pounds when full grown and our male was 105 pounds.  One day when we were out, another dog that was off leach, ran from its owners and tried to get into it with our male.  My sweet little girl turned into a mama bear and threatened the other dog that was much bigger than her.  The other dog turned tail and ran back to their owner. Thankfully there was just a lot of barking and snarling and none of the dogs were hurt.
  5. Entertainment: Having two dogs can provide endless entertainment as they play and interact with each other. OMG, the antics of our two dogs gave us endless smiles and laughs. Watching our male when he first met our little girl was hilarious.  When we brought her home, he was asleep. She ran up to him, a 105 pound full grown male as a tiny 7 week old puppy and bit him on his leg.  The surprised look on his face was priceless.  Of course she couldn’t hurt him being so young. But it was love at first bite.  They played and played with him being so very gentle with her.  Then they both dropped and passed out with her cradled under his front paws. When we would come home from a holiday, we would pick up small stuffed animals for our four legged fur babies.  They got used to this and when we’d come home, they’d say hi to us and go straight for our backpacks where we always had their new toys.  Then they’d play and play for hours until they fell asleep, usually with the new toys in their mouths or under their paws.
Two of our Chocolate Labs. Our youngest male and our little girl (right) posing for Christmas pictures. Having them together for the holidays is a great benefit of having two dogs.
Two of our Chocolate Labs. Our youngest male and our little girl (right) posing for Christmas pictures.

What are the cons of having two dogs?

Having more than one dog can be a wonderful experience. But there are some things that can be cons. We can speak from experience on this one as we had not one, not two, but three chocolate Labs for a period spanning over 20 years.  Here are things to consider with owning multiple dogs. 

  1. Cost. As a loving dog owner, you want to give your pets the best life.  As such, multiple dogs will cost more.  You’ll have more veterinary visits, more dog food to purchase, more dog toys to buy, and if you have to board them when you travel, that’s more costs as well. 
  2. Time. Yes, multiple dogs will entertain themselves to some degree. That said, having two dogs took much more of our time.  One example was bath time.  Since our dogs were indoor dogs, we bathed them frequently.  But it took twice as long since we had two.  When we got our third, it took three times as long. There was also three times the dog poop to pick up and dispose of. Veterinary visits took longer as they went in one by one. And instead of 4 paws of nails to trim, you have 8.  Or in our case, 12 !
  3. Cleaning. Unlike a Golden Retriever with their long flowing hair, Labrador Retrievers have shorter hair.  But Labs shed their coats twice a year. During shedding season, I’d vacuum the house weekly.  The funny thing was, when I was done, I’d look back at where I started, and there was already dog hair all over the floor.  We had two males and one girl dog  We learned that a male dog will dribble.  Not from their mouth but from their penis. So there were always little drops on the floor so in addition to vacuuming what seemed like constantly, I also had to mop the floor more often.
  4. Allergies. Having one dog can be of concern if you or people that visit often have allergies.  Double or in our case, triple the allergens from dog dander and it can become overwhelming.  We had a dear friend that came to our house and her allergies kicked into overdrive.  Her eyes got red and she started sneezing.  We had to go out to eat that evening as she just couldn’t stay in our house.  A house that we thought we had cleaned from top to bottom before she arrived.  It was simply the allergens in the air that gave her the problems.
  5. Space. All dogs need plenty of exercise.  This is one of the best “medicines” we prescribe to cure canine problems like destructive behavior.  As such, having a yard big enough for your “puppy pack” will increase the more of them you have.  Also, each will need their own place to sleep, their own food bowls with space between them so they can eat in peace.  We found that our three big Labs shared one large water bowl, we just had to fill it quite often but it still needed its own space.  And one thing to consider is having a car big enough to carry all of your fur babies.  Now if you have smaller breeds dogs, this won’t be as big of an issue as it was for us having almost 300 pounds of Chocolate Labs wanting to go for a ride to the dog park. For information on dog exercise, please see our article Best activities to solve dog behavior problems.

Other considerations of having more than one dog

It’s important to keep in mind that owning any pet, including two dogs, requires a significant time and financial commitment. It’s important to carefully consider whether you are able to provide the necessary care and attention before getting two dogs. As you begin the journey to decide if having two dogs is right for you, please consider the following:

  1. Age of your current dog. In our case, when we got our second dog, our male was 5 years old. He was young enough to keep up with and play with a growing puppy. When we got our third dog, our oldest was 7 years old so he was borderline young enough to again put up with an energetic puppy. Thankfully our little girl was only 2 so she was plenty young. If you have an older dog, they may not have the energy or patience to deal with a younger dog. 
  2. Litter syndrome. One concern we hear in veterinary clinic is when two dogs are brought home from the same litter and they are acting out.  This is an issue because the bond between puppies from the same litter is very strong.  As such, behavior issues can arise that could have been avoided.  For more information on these issues, here’s an excellent article by the West Suburban Humane Society. As cute as they are, just choose one puppy from a litter and future behavioral issues can be avoided.
  3. Size. Having different breeds is wonderful as they can each bring different personalities to your four legged family. That said, if you have too big of a difference, accidents could occur.  For example if you have a very large breed like a great dane and a small breed like a French bulldog, the smaller dog could get injured during play time.
  4. Unwanted breeding. This can be a big problem if your dogs are not spayed (females) and neutered (males). In our case, keeping our intact male away from our female before she underwent spay surgery was a challenge.  This concern can be mitigated by ensuring all your dogs are spayed and neutered. For more information on the dog heat cycle, please see our article All about female dogs in heat.

Now you have the learned benefits and cons of having more than one dog. In our case, we carefully weighed the benefits of having two dogs with the cons. In our case, it was the right decision. You can now proceed with your eyes wide open. This will go a long way towards a long and happy life with your pet dogs. And keeping your Pet Happy is what we all want.

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