Are Two Dogs Easier Than One?
Are Two Dogs Easier Than One?
Melbourne, 3 March 2019 - As an owner of one dog, I know I always have that thought 'should I get another dog to keep Duke company' and I've heard many other one dog families echo the same question. We all get that guilt of leaving our pup when we head out to work, when it's raining too hard to take them to the park, or when we have to skip their evening walk because Aunty Jane and Uncle Bob turn up unexpectedly for dinner. So when the opportunity popped up to look after another dog for 10 days we jumped at the chance to experience being a two dog family.
Background - we already own Duke, a 16 month Airedale Terrier. You can read more about Duke, and Airedale Terriers in this bog 'So you're thinking of getting an Airedale Terrier'.
We agreed to look after 2 1/2-year-old Bingley, another Airedale Terrier. We met Bingleys pawrents through AireNet Australia, a page on Facebook dedicated to Airedale owners in Australia. Prior to looking after Bingley, we met up at a local park for a doggy play date, and then Bingley came to our house for a morning play date to get accustomed to his surroundings. The dogs instantly loved each other.
And here's our 10 days with two dogs. (Obviously, if you get a puppy, or a rescue dog to join your family, the experiences will differ - but hopefully, this gives you a bit of an idea of what a two dog home is like).
Play/Nap/Poop/Repeat - Being fairly similar in age, the boys played really well together. Duke did like to annoy Bingley a little, as he wanted slightly more play time (being younger that is expected). Bingley very graciously would tell Duke when he had enough. The play would occur for 10-30 minutes at a time, consisting of bitey face (a well known Airedale favourite), chase, tug of war, wrestling and let's see what food/underwear we can steal when the humans aren't looking. This would be followed by a nap or rest, and then back at it again. The playing meant that we could get on with cooking dinner, or doing chores without a pup following up around seeing what mischief they could get up to. Check out this adorable video of the boys playing tug-of-war (with a stolen sock).
Individual Love and Attention
While the boys did keep each other entertained, they both still needed individual love and attention. They are both very affectionate and love a good cuddle and scratch behind the ears. Although they had each other to play with, we still tried to mentally stimulate them each day by playing catch and practising commands. They could participate in these activities together, so if you're already doing this with one dog, it theoretically shouldn't take you any longer with two.
The dogs still need a daily walk. Duke usually has three walks a day, one in the morning before work, one in the evening after work, and a group dog walking session in the day, so dropping down to one walk did save us a lot of time (and money). However, that one walk did require us to stay alert, particularly if only one of us took them out. All dogs have things that owners need to look out for on walks, with Duke it's trying to steal other peoples treat bags/shopping, some dogs like to jump in muddy puddles, and others might like to chase bikes - all dogs are different and you need to be aware of each dogs 'naughty behaviour' so that you can preempt and stop it before it happens. Having two dogs meant we needed to stay extra alert on walks.
We forever felt like we were picking up dog poop! We have a pooper scooper for the garden and compost, so you could say this extra poop was a bonus for our garden, but the smell certainly was not a bonus for our noses. With one dog if you forget to pick up the poop in the backyard for one day it's fine, with two it smells like a sewer.
With Bingley we didn't face any extra costs, as his pawrents provided his food for the trip. But it did make me think about the costs of paying two lots of;
- Dog food usually $110 per bag every 2 months x 2 (remember your dogs might be at different stages of their life requiring different diets)
- Insurance usually $85 per month x 2 (I checked to see the cost of adding an additional dog to our existing insurance, and we would only receive a slight discount on the second dog)
- Obedience School $80 per year x 2
- Treats/Toys/Beds (for when they destroy their existing ones) x $20 per month x 2
- Kennels (for when you go on holiday) $40 per day x 2 (some kennels offer a slight discount for the second dog)
- Dog walkers $350 per month x 2 (with an additional dog, we would most likely drop our daytime group dog walking, meaning this would be a saving to us)
- Worming tablets $90 every 6 months x 2
- The initial outlay for a new dog (cost of purchase/adoption, cost of injections, de-sexing etc)
- Destruction costs! Not all dogs will be as destructive as Duke (well I hope not for your sake) but dogs (especially puppies) do like to chew on furniture/eat shoes/steal socks, so this is another cost to factor in.
Duke is still fed twice a day, whereas Bingley being older is only fed once a day - in the evening. This meant when we gave Duke his breakfast, we had to separate him and Bingley. Duke, being young and playful, was more interested in getting back to Bingley to play rather than eating his breakfast. So this whole process took a little longer. Neither dog was aggressive around food, but this is something else that you might need to consider with two dogs.
Other things to consider
- Mode of transport > We have a Ford Territory, so plenty of room for two dogs. But if you have something smaller you might need to consider switching to a larger car to accommodate two dogs.
- Becoming furfriends > We were very lucky that Duke and Bingley got on so well. My partner also happened to be off work during this time, so we pretty much always had someone around to keep an eye on the boys. When you first bring a new dog into your home, albeit a puppy or a rescue, you might like to consider taking some time off work to supervise the dogs at first. They need to get to know each other and learn how not to annoy one another.
- Space > Two dogs do take up more space than one. Can your home accommodate two dogs? Not only two dogs laying down, but two dogs running around/playing, two dog beds, two lots of dog bowels etc.
The Verdict? Are Two Dogs Easier One?
I 100% want to get another dog. Having Bingley with us has been an absolute delight. Yes, it has been chaotic. Yes, at times it has been hard, but for me, the positives outweigh the negatives a million to one.
Are we going to get another dog right now? No. With a human baby on the way, for us getting another dog right now just is not the right time. I know how much love and attention a new dog needs, and getting one now just wouldn't be fair to the dog, to Duke, or to the baby. But as soon as the time is right, we will be getting another pooch to join our family.
The experience has made me think that rather than getting a new puppy to join our family, I'd be much more open to getting a rescue (in fact, I think I'd actually prefer that).
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