I am a wife, mom, and companion to two charming dogs, as well as a singer in
my church choir.
There are many benefits to having two dogs instead of just one. I promise you,
it’s one of the best decisions you could make.
Melanie Thomas, CC0 via Pixabay
Our Search for a New Dog
In early 2005, a few months after we lost our beloved dog Petra at the age of
16, our family decided to was time to get a new dog. We checked the local
animal shelters for a couple of weeks, but could not settle on the right dog
or puppy. We had to feel “right” about the potential new member of our family.
Then one Saturday in April 2005, we answered an ad placed by a couple who said
they rescued unwanted dogs. They showed us a litter of seven adorable puppies
with various color combinations. The mother, said the man, was a black
Labrador retriever and the father was a brown and white Springer spaniel. The
man had papers documenting the puppies’ parentage and more papers showing
records of their initial shots. We called them Springadors and only later
discovered that this, along with Labradinger, is one of the official names of
this increasingly popular hybrid breed.
An Impulsive Decision
The boys, who were twelve and eight at the time, each chose a puppy and we
couldn’t decide between them. My husband and I had a quick discussion. We both
worked and the kids went to school. We reasoned that dogs don’t like to be
alone, and they don’t much care whether their companion is human or canine,
and we made the crazy impulsive decision to take them both. We probably broke
every rule in the book of conventional wisdom about finding a puppy, except
the one about not buying one from a pet store. The puppy pen was set up in a
shopping center parking lot and we did not check out the sellers very
But it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made. Both Cocoa and
Pippin turned out to be friendly, fun, delightful family pets, and other than
the double veterinary bills, having two dogs in the family turned out to be
better than having one. Of course, if you decide to go the two-dog route, you
have to consider the size of your living space and yard. If you rent your
home, be sure to check your landlord’s pet policy. But if you have the space,
there are many advantages to being a two-dog family.
Things to Know About Owning Two Dogs
It Alleviates Loneliness and Boredom
A big concern of ours was that our new puppy would be lonely when we were not
home. Loneliness is a real concern for a dog and may even cause behavior
problems such as excessive barking. Without company, dogs also get bored and
bored dogs often bark continuously to release energy, according to Jenna
Stregowski, RVT, in her article Barking Dogs: Why Dogs Barks and How to Stop
Excessive Barking. I believe both our dogs are happier together than they
would have been alone. Like all dogs, Cocoa and Pippin will bark a little at
animals or strangers, but they have never barked or whined for long stretches
of time out of emotional distress.
Crating Two Puppies Together
When we had to leave the house for a period of time, we put the puppies
together in a large crate along with some old towels. Crating is a way to keep
puppies from destroying your furniture, carpets, and shoes when you are not
home. It also helps with housebreaking. Even though our puppies were only
eight weeks old when we brought them home, they only had a few “accidents”
inside their crate. It is instinctual for dogs to not want to soil their
space. Some of us feel guilty about crating dogs because locking them up in a
small space for hours seems cruel; but this is transferring human values to
another species that, believe it or not, may not share them.
The truth is, if you treat the crate as a happy place, your dog will not
perceive it as cruel treatment. It can be a merciful way to prevent problems
that could damage the developing relationship between you and your pup. How
much better it is to come home to an undamaged house and fling open the crate
door so that you and your dog can greet each other joyfully than to come home
to a living room covered with the stuffing from your living room sofa (yes,
this has happened to me with a previous dog).
The feeling with which you will greet your dog under such circumstances will
be something less than joyous. But still, reasonable or not, the fact that
Cocoa and Pippin were together in the crate made me feel a lot better about
the whole thing. We got the largest size crate we could find so they had
plenty of room, we know they were safe, and they had each other for company.
Puppies’ first day in their new home
Transitioning Out of the Crate
Springadors are fairly large dogs—they can end up anywhere between 50 and 90
pounds. So when the pups got too large to comfortably share the crate, we got
a second crate and put them side by side where they could see and nose each
other. For over a year, we put them in locked crates whenever we were not
Just before leaving, we’d say in a warm happy voice, “Time to go to Place!”
and in they would go, tails wagging. Then we’d give them each a
biscuit—something for them to anticipate. Once we were sure we could trust
them not to destroy the house, we began leaving the crate door open so they
could go in and out at will. Eventually, we got rid of the crates altogether
and replaced them with big dog pillows in the same spots.
Two Dogs Get More Exercise
In addition to being good for their mental health, having a canine companion
is also great for your dogs’ physical health. Puppies love to play and romp
for hours at a time and can out-romp most humans. Since our two were able to
romp with each other, they got the exact amount of exercise they needed.
As they grew older, they continued to chase and play until their activity
needs were satisfied. Dogs often become overweight due to overfeeding and
inadequate exercise. You’ll have to take care to feel them the right food in
the right quantity, and you will want to walk them regularly, but with two
dogs, you can be sure they will help each other use up any excess energy.
Pippin has a tendency to be on the heavy side and without Cocoa to run with,
he probably would have been overweight by this time; but at six years old,
both dogs have maintained a healthy weight.
Pixabay, CC0 via Pixabay
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The Emotional Bond: Connecting With Another Species
Much of the joy in having dogs is observing and enjoying your pets’ unique
personalities and behavior quirks and forming that special human/pet bond.
There is something fantastically satisfying about forming an emotional bond
with a creature of a different species. Perhaps it soothes some deep feeling
of human isolation from the natural world. In fact, although some people own
dogs primarily for their utility—hunting, protection, retrieving, etc., I
believe that the vast majority of people own dogs for the emotional
This joy is more than doubled with two dogs—you might say you get the
emotional satisfaction squared. Our two dogs each have their own very
different personality and it is great fun to not only form our own
relationships with each dog but to watch their funny relationship with each
other. Generally, they are great friends and are usually together. But there
are occasional jealousy issues.
Dogs Don’t Care About Equality
Cocoa likes to be the center of attention and has developed many techniques to
get her desire for affection satisfied, such as looking at our faces
soulfully, lifting her paws, and rolling onto her back with her tail thumping.
Pippin is more laid back and seems grateful for any attention he happens to
get, but doesn’t seek it as vigorously. When Cocoa notices one of us petting
Pippin for a while, she will make groaning noises in her throat and if we keep
petting him, she will attempt to insert herself between us. I recently learned
that when you have multiple dogs, you should not attempt to treat them both
equally. Because dogs are pack animals with a rigidly hierarchical mindset,
they are happier when they know their place in the pecking order.
So here is another area where my human values run smack up against the alien
values of the canine species. As a parent, my mindset is to make absolutely
sure I treat both my children with perfect equality, and I also have a hard
time not anthropomorphizing my dogs. They seem so well integrated into our
human life and they are such individuals, it is hard to accept that dividing
line between human and animal. So I have definitely been guilty of trying to
treat them as equals.
Fortunately, the jealousy has been mild, perhaps because my attempts to treat
Cocoa and Pippin as equals have not been entirely successful. Cocoa is
cuddlier and sheds less than Pippin, who inherited the long hair of a Spring
Spaniel and sheds in constantly in tufts. So Cocoa has insinuated herself as a
resident on the bottom of our bed, while Pippin sleeps on a blanket on the
floor. With my newfound knowledge of dog psychology, I am liberated from my
guilt about this unequal treatment. Anyway, pippin does get his special
privileges: He gets to chase away the flocks of migrating geese that
frequently land in our front yard because he does the job and comes back
immediately when we call his name. Cocoa insists on doing some exploring
before she responds to our call and comes back only when she decides she is
ready. So while Pippin gets to go chase geese, which always gives him a
thrill, Cocoa has to stay inside. No need to feel guilty about that inequality
Two Dogs Can Be a Great Choice
So if you are in the market for a puppy, consider getting two! Many people
introduce a new dog to a home that already has an established canine resident.
This can work well too. There may be an adjustment period and perhaps some
territorial issues, but dogs generally take well to a new companion.
- About.com. Jenna Stregowski, RVT. “Barking Dogs”: Why Dogs Bark and How to Stop Excessive Barking.” Accessed 26 Jan 2011. http://dogs.about.com/od/dogtraining/qt/barkingdogs.htm.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
© 2011 carolapple
DogSpot from Gurgaon, haryana on May 20, 2015:
Nice article shared by carolapple. Two dogs can give a nice company and homely
environment to each other. But sometimes dog completely forget about their
owner because they have companion to share everything. It may create problems.
carolapple (author) from Suffolk Virginia on February 22, 2011:
We ended up with the two puppies almost by accident but found out by the
experience that it really is better for them and does seem to prevent or solve
behavior problems. It makes perfect sense that a pack animal who has to be
alone a lot is not going to like it and is going to find a way to express his
Bianca Rose from Australia on February 21, 2011:
I tell everyone who is having trouble with their dog to get another one. It
sounds counter-intuitive but most behaviour problems are because a dog is
bored. We got a second dog when our first dog was 3 years old and having a
friend really helped calm down dog number 1.
Mark Ewbie from UK on February 18, 2011:
Two dogs are better than one. Definitely. They interact, form a pack and seem
more secure and confident than a single dog. Hadn’t heard of Labradingers