Double Trouble… Are Two Dogs Better Than One?

Since Barney was around six months old, Mr SLT and I have discussed getting another Border Terrier, we were advised to wait until he was older, nearer to 18 months. Barney’s trainer explained that if we got another puppy whilst Barney was still young, rather than the new puppy learning from Barney, Barney would regress to being puppy like again and all our hard work on training and routine would be lost.

So we waited, but we continued to discuss it, our reasoning was different. I thought Barney was sad, or even bored, with my quiet daily life, CFS/ME means that I needed lots of rest throughout the day and as a very young pup Barney was surrounded by dogs, he is very sociable, loves meeting and playing with other dogs. Even though he has daily walks with other dogs, he always seemed sad when we got home. I’ve since noticed that Border Terriers have a very good ‘sad’ face and Barney definitely isn’t a ‘smiley’ dog, so I now realise that Barney was probably just tired and content to have some quiet time.

Mr SLT thought having another dog would be good for Barney, and me, as he would have a playmate. Playing more would tire him out, meaning that I wouldn’t have to do two walks a day and in the evening, come the ‘witching hour’, Barney would be tired and not looking at us to play with him!

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Your Dog Magazine – February Issue

So, we read, with interest, the article ‘One dog or two?’ in ‘Your Dog’ magazine, February’s issue. The points raised where interesting, some of which we hadn’t thought about, and got us talking about it again.

Jackie Drakeford, a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor and a behaviour consultant, wrote the article in order to encourage readers to consider the impact on your current pet of bringing another dog into the home. The first point she made really resonated with both of us;

  • ‘That a second dog is for you, not for your dog’ – your dog isn’t lonely and doesn’t need a playmate, this made me realise that maybe I was ‘imagining’ Barney was sad when really he wasn’t at all.
  • ‘It is better for the second pet to be as different as possible from the first’ – we were thinking about getting another Border Terrier, and her reasoning did make total sense to us. However, of course we have seen people with more than one Border Terrier and they seem very happy being with each other.
  • ‘A male dog will generally be happier with a bitch’ – we were looking to get another boy!

It was all starting to sound quite negative to us and possibly not a great idea at all! But at least the article got us thinking and Jackie does end it by saying ‘As long as you go in with your eyes open, you can make it work’ as many people do but maybe it isn’t as easy as we thought it would be.

Well, we had a great opportunity to have a trial run, as my sister was coming to stay with us for a few days, with their six month old Border Terrier, Alfie.

Dog tired...

Dog tired…

Barney and Alfie got on well from the start, Barney has no problem with having other dogs in his house, he seems to love it and proudly shows them around the garden, he doesn’t worry about sharing his bowls, his toys or his bed. They spent the first day playing, chasing each other around the garden and wrestling, by the end of the day they were shattered. Barney was very patient with Alfie, only twice did play go a bit too far when they had to be stopped and calmed down. It was funny to watch Barney show Alfie he was the oldest, as he took Alfie’s toys and wouldn’t let him play with them, but Alfie was very patient and would shoulder nudge Barney until he played with him. It all seemed to be very positive indeed and at the end of each day they were shattered, no whining for playtime with us!

However, I found it very tiring but it could have been the whole situation of having guests and a puppy staying! One of my main concerns was how I would find walking two dogs rather than one and I found it exhausting, it made me realise that, at the moment, I don’t have enough energy to start training another puppy whilst looking after Barney. Even though they played together (a lot!), they still needed constant attention (unless asleep!) and that was tiring. Also, we completely forgot that Alfie is only six months old, I think because Alfie is bigger than Barney, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget what having a puppy is like! Barney is quite calm, especially for a Border Terrier, obviously he is used to his routine with me in the day and seems to understand when I am tired, needing to rest. He snuggles up on the sofa with me, calming, relaxing and keeping me warm! And with two dogs, I noticed that my rest time didn’t happen as I was watching them the whole time.

Barney & Alfie

Barney & Alfie

 

Have we decided against it completely? I think Mr SLT has, however I haven’t, just maybe now isn’t the right time but my heart melts when I see Border Terrier puppies or even one that needs a new home and having two dogs welcome you when you come home, love you and just generally make you smile and laugh is so special. So who knows, never say never, but at least now we are more aware and the more Alfie visits us the more experience we’ll get!

I’d love to hear your experiences of bringing another dog into your home, how did you find it? Do you have any tips or did something happen that you totally didn’t expect? Please share your stories with me in the comments below.

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10 Comments

  1. emma

    We had the same reservations but getting our second (rehomed) BT was the best thing we did. He was a 2 year old and she was 4 at the time. We had all these worries but with the right introduction they bumbled along happily together very easily. Cut out the puppy worries by getting an older dog that needs a new home – charities like Dogs Trust have got them coming in every week at the moment. Made our family complete and gave our George a second chance at a life.

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Thanks for sharing Emma, that’s great to hear too! We are registered with the BTW but many of the dogs they get in can’t live with other dogs, so I’m just being patient…

      Reply
      • emma

        We had to search for 2 years before the right fit came along but it was worth it:) Good luck, Double Trouble = Double Fun!

        Reply
        • Michelle

          Thanks Emma, I agree, the right dog will come along at the right time.

          Reply
  2. Kevin

    Great writing Michelle, and your website is looking excellent.

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Thank you Kevin, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Reply
  3. Clapton

    We used to have two BTs here Mr Barney….old Marley used to protest like anything about his sister, Miss Lola. She was very bossy when she arrived and would try to be in charge of everything. So you have to know what you are getting in to. But they became good pals and would often play together. We also have Colonel Rocky to stay sometimes now and Miss Lola really likes having him here and misses old Marley very much. We would certainly have another dog if the humans didnt go out to work so much (that is new)

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Thanks Mr Clapton for your insight, it does seem that you need to be aware and ‘manage’ a new dog coming into your home, maybe now isn’t the right time, but sometime in the future, who knows?

      Reply
  4. Ulla

    I’ve got 2 male borders. The older was about 18 mths when I re-homed a 4 mths old puppy. They were the best pals from the day one! Before the arrival of the little ‘brother’, the older was a rebellious teenager. His behavior changed totally at the very moment when the puppy arrived and he started to behave as a caring and responsible big brother. However, when the younger grew older they started to mark their territories in the house. At that moment, when the younger was about 12 mths old, he was neutered (having problems with his testicles made the decision easy). The older terrier isn’t neutered and since the problem was solved by neutering the younger, I haven’t bother to neuter the older one (finally, he turned to be the calm one). I recommend for another border! Best wishes from Finland, U

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Hi Ulla
      Thank you for sharing your story with us, it is so interesting to hear other people’s experiences and view points, it will help us make a more informed decision in the future.
      Thank you for commenting all the way from Finland!
      Michelle & Barney x

      Reply

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