Having two dogs challenges the heart.
It’s wonderful to see them bond and play together…
But their relationship hasn’t been all Pooh-and-Piglet as I’ve always wanted.
Even so, I couldn’t imagine having just one dog. I’m so glad they have each other, even though they sometimes struggle to get along.
Does Having A Second Dog Fix Separation Anxiety?
If you have one dog who misses you too much every time you leave home, getting a second dog can help.
But you can also just end up with two anxious dogs.
When I leave Matilda and Cow home alone, I sometimes leave my laptop open to record a video of them.
They typically bark a few times when I first leave, unless I’m able to slip out unnoticed. They’ll also bark upon hearing me return.
Surprisingly, they’re pretty quiet in-between, especially if we take a long walk right before I depart.
But there is often a five-minute period in which Cow starts BAYING like a coyote. I’ve never heard her howl like that in person. She sounds like a werewolf.
Of course, Matilda can’t help but join in.
They don’t really interact much with each other while I’m gone, though there is some footage of them lying in the same bed in one of these videos.
Dogs know that we, the humans, are not just big dogs. We provide enrichment, food, entertainment and comfort that another dog simply cannot.
So, I’d suggest working on your first dog’s separation anxiety before getting another. If you already have two, like me, you’ll need to work on anxiety issues at the same time.
Will Two Dogs Entertain One Another?
The best part of having two dogs is knowing that if I’m tired, sick, or otherwise can’t play with my dogs or take them for long walks, they can get some of their energy out by playing with one another.
Matilda and Cow love to spar. Though it looks like they’re fighting, they have an intricate playtime “dance.” Though Cow is bigger, she uses a very soft mouth, and often lays down on her stomach to help even the playing field.
But this playtime, alone, is not enough enrichment and exercise for them.
Sometimes they get annoyed with each other and need to cool off.
Separate playtime with separate toys allows them to relax and play at their own pace.
I wish they were about the same size. If I were to choose my second dog, I would have gotten another toy breed mix. However, I’m thankful for Cow and the way she adopted herself into my life.
How Different Can Two Dogs Be?
I love when Matilda and Cow reveal different quirks and personality traits that show just how individual they truly are.
Matilda is my little intellectual. She loves to paint, she loves to lift her leg to mark everything, and she will do anything for food.
Cow, on the other hand, is my street-smart, athletic girl and she’s also kind of a basket case.
She knows how to paint like Matilda, but she puts little effort in because she just doesn’t derive as much joy from it. She does, however, seem to enjoy practicing her back up trick.
Cow also runs 5ks with me. I can’t run with Matilda because she always needs to stop to mark.
She’ll squabble at Matilda if she gets too close to her when she’s grumpy and sleepy, but she doesn’t care about food as much. Matilda, on the other hand, will start drama if Cow gets too close to her raw meaty bone.
I finally understand what parents of humans mean when they don’t have a favorite child. I love both Matilda and Cow equally, just in different ways and for different reasons.
What If My Two Dogs Don’t Get Along?
In rare cases, some people have to “crate and rotate” their dogs because they cannot stand each other, and will kill one another given the opportunity.
Fortunately, this is very uncommon. Though you’ll need to introduce your dogs slowly at first and give them plenty of space, if they live together long enough, they will eventually learn to respect one another’s boundaries.
Do not depend on your dogs to “work it out” on their own, though. While small fights and squabbles are not unusual, they can build up into reactivity and anxiety – you’ll have two dogs who are always on edge.
Always feed your dogs separately. No sharing bowls or plates, even if you think they can handle it. Animals have a basic, innate need for security and privacy when they eat.
For months, I was making Cow sleep in her crate because my back hurt from trying to sleep with two dogs. When I moved into my new apartment, I let her sleep with me again so she could feel more comfortable through the stressful adjustment period.
Last night, she almost bit Matilda just for trying to get under the blanket near her. She has officially lost her bed privileges and will be sleeping in her crate again.
It’s not really a punishment. She clearly needs space to stretch out when she sleeps, and she hates being disturbed. I get that. Once she’s comfy in her crate, she’s happy to stay there.
If I felt either of my dogs were in danger, however, I’d have to rehome one of them. I have no idea how I could choose. I’m glad I don’t have to make that choice.
But if you just got a second dog, your first dog should take priority. Consider the first 30 days to be a trial period. If your first dog is not safe in their own home, seriously consider sending your second dog back.
Matilda and Cow seem to enjoy spending time together without pressure for direct contact. They love side-by-side walk while they experience sights and smells together. It’s so cute when Matilda finds an interesting smell, and Cow rushes over to investigate with her.
Cow and Matilda will never be the type of “sisters” to cuddle on the couch or snuggle in bed. That’s just fine with me!
Tuesday 26th of January 2021
Like the point where you mentioned that if we don't have time to give to dogs, they can play with each other. How difficult is it to train two dogs if they are both from different breeds?
Wednesday 1st of May 2019
I haven't really thought about having two dogs to address separation anxiety, but when you said that you can actually end up with two anxious dogs that made me laugh ha! ha! Trying to fix a problem making it double.
Cow starts howling and "...Matilda can’t help but join in." ha! ha! I anticipated that she would bring some comfort but apparently not.
Separation anxiety can be addressed and alleviated but it happens less and less with time. How long now since you take care of these cute puppers?
Wednesday 1st of May 2019
Great article! I have one dog but have not really thought about getting another dog. Great insight into having 2 dogs tho!
Sunday 31st of March 2019
Wow, this is a lovely article. The thought of having 1 dog is already a curiosity not to talk of 2. Having these pets is like having new family members added to the family and all the excitement come along too.
Tuesday 16th of April 2019