Should I adopt a second dog for my dog?

Yes! Of course, you will need to chew over a few bits before you take on this bone of contention. For many folks, leaving their dog alone while they go to work evokes immense guilt. Owners deal with this by leaving the smooth jazz channel on or preparing bizarre combinations of food and interactive toys in the freezer to ensure their pup won’t be bored the next day. Some owners go high-tech and purchase a doggie cam. Webcams are the ideal choice for the owner who wishes to prevent flabbergasting homecomings (only to be helplessly stupefied from their workstation instead). In any case, let’s mull over the “pro et contra” of rescuing another dog.


Obviously, a second dog means the dog budget is going to double. If you haven’t calculated the cost to care for a dog recently, here is an estimate for Duncan (my 50-pound brown-dog mix):

Vet and vax: $40 per month or $480 per year
Flea and tick meds: $28 per month or $336 per year
Dog food $34 per month or $400 per year
Toys and treats $10 per month or $120 per year

Total $112 per month or $1,340 per year

I left out boarding, travel, and contingency costs since they are contextual, but mostly because I want you to get another dog.

According to the experts at the American Kennel Club, your second dog is ideally going to be a puppy while your current dog is at least 2 years old. The idea here is that you wait until your current dog is completely trained and bonded to you.

Translation: Wait long enough to forget how difficult it is to raise a puppy, but not so long that your first dog is too old to play with the puppy.

I adopted puppy Duncan when Rex was 11. That proved to be a big success, and Rex rapidly taught Duncan the ropes. Duncan learned important things like how to pee outside, when to counter-surf, and the best spot to take a nap. Duncan keeps old Rex in shape by frequently leaping on him when he least expects it.

Walks and Adventures
Walks, meal times, car rides, and other activities you are already enjoying with one dog have a gentle learning curve, and will soon become second nature with two.

Bath time might be a little different. If you are clever, and I mean Loki-clever, you can maintain the element of surprise and capture two dogs, the rubber ducky, and most of the bubble bath accoutrements all at once.

A few reasons NOT to get another dog: your dog is fearful or aggressive, you are having significant behavior and training issues, or you are experiencing pressure from family members to adopt a second dog.

So, assuming you aren’t having a baby, and none of your in-laws require a health surrogate, let’s move on to the “Pros” section.


Two dogs are better than one. They will be best buddies and play together all the time. I call Rex and Duncan the monkey twins (or banana brothers). When they wear each other out, they’ll curl up together like two peas in a pod.

The old dog will socialize the new dog, and you will notice the new dog innately grasp essential social cues and roles needed to get along with other dogs. This actually works in both directions since your older dog will experience an increase in accountability.

For the pet-owning family, studies have shown that kids that grow up with dogs are more responsible, have more care and empathy, become better parents, and are less stressed and anxious about the world. Clearly, the takeaway here is that the more dogs you have, the better your kids are going to be.


If you can afford it, and your first dog needs more exercise, adopting a new puppy is a promising possibility. It’s going to be extra work, and any time you sit, foster, or adopt an extra dog there is going to be risk. You never really know what you are going to get when it comes to dogs, but the odds are in your favor.

Two dogs are better than one

Further Reading
Bloggers like to quote experts and mention studies since it makes us feel smart and quite proud of ourselves. In rare cases, we actually read some of these publications. Thankfully, we are in the information age so there are innumerable reports on dog research. The National Library of Medicine, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club, and even the Centers for Disease Control are frequently cited.

Pets aid in the physical health of children:

Pets aid in the social and emotional growth of children:

Featured photo – Callie and Ruxon waiting to be picked up from day camp. Callie is a “second dog.”

2 responses to “Should I adopt a second dog for my dog?”

  1. Maybe you are planning to cover this in a future blog post, but what are your thoughts on fostering as a trial run towards having a second dog?

    1. That is a great question because, in practice, the line between foster and adoption is inexact since adopted dogs can be returned and fostered dogs can be kept. As a foster parent, you risk losing the foster since the rescue group is advocating for forever homes. However, they “turn off notifications” on fosters while they recover from physical or psychological damage. I would expect they could just as easily do that for you to get to know them, but that’s going to be a function of adoption demand and the ideology of the rescue group.

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