My Dog Has Too Much Energy. Should I Adopt a Second Dog?
We know that most dogs are playful and enjoy being part of a pack. If your dog always has extra energy to burn, adopting a second dog might be just what he needs. But before bringing another dog home, consider these questions.
Why is my dog so energetic?
It’s important to understand the cause of your dog’s exuberance before you assume a second dog is the solution. Is your dog bouncing off the walls because he loves to play, or does he simply lack the training to control his impulses? Does he need a “job” or sport to keep him mentally stimulated? Does he not get enough exercise every day? In some cases, what a dog really needs is training and/or structured exercise, not simply a playmate.
How does my current dog react to other dogs in general?
If your pooch is easygoing and friendly towards other dogs, introducing a new dog has a good chance of going smoothly. However, if you are considering getting a second dog in order to “socialize” your current pup, you could be setting yourself up for a lot of stress. That would be an unfair responsibility for the incoming dog, who’s already overwhelmed by the transition into your home. Furthermore, the socialization process only happens in a dog’s first few months of life, so any socialization training after that generally requires professional help to overcome. If your adolescent or adult dog is selective or aggressive around other dogs, contact a qualified force-free trainer before bringing a new dog home.
How does my dog react to other dogs in his personal space?
If your dog is possessive of his food, toys, beds, or family members, this needs to be addressed before bringing a new dog into your life. Resource guarders can peacefully coexist with other dogs, but it’s important to have a plan in place before the second dog comes into the picture.
Does my dog get overly aroused when playing?
Having a playmate can be a fantastic way for a dog to burn energy on a regular basis. But your dog should able to regulate his arousal, so he doesn’t tip into “fight” mode during a play session. There are both training and management techniques you can learn in order to prevent a dog fight.
What is my dog’s play style?
Some dogs like to wrestle while others crave a good chase. Knowing your dog’s play style will help you determine what kind of playmate he’s most suited to. Look for a second dog that finds your dog’s play style fun rather than frightful.
Is my current dog trained to my satisfaction?
This one is critical. Before even thinking about a second dog, your current dog’s training should be firmly in place both indoors and out. If he begs at the table, destroys your furniture, pulls on leash, or barks relentlessly, those issues need to be addressed first. Once a new dog enters your home, you will likely find yourself with less time to focus on dog number one.
What traits am I looking for in a new dog?
Looking for a dog is a bit like buying a home, in that we tend to make a long list of “must-haves,” only to find that our expectations are unrealistic. So make your list and then revise it until you have honed in on a few essential qualities that dog number two needs to have. Focus on behavioral traits rather than aesthetic ones. Just as with your first pup, expect the second one to have both amazing qualities and some quirks to be ironed out. Are you prepared for that?
Do I have the time for training a new dog and addressing potential behavior issues?
If you’re considering a second dog because you don’t have time to exercise the first one, you may get into hot water. Your playful new pup will likely be young and have lots of energy. Are you prepared for the training that accompanies an energetic dog?
Choosing to get a second dog is a decision that should be led by your brain rather than your heart. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to find the perfect canine sibling.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer at Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY, and author of the training book, "BKLN Manners." She draws upon her experience as an educator and dog trainer to apply positive training techniques to a challenging urban environment. Kate is a rescue advocate drawn to special-needs dogs and currently has two Chihuahua mixes, Batman and Beans.
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