April 1: What's Jen Clicking on Between Newscasts?

I have a problem, and his name is Tommy.  Tom Brady the Yellow Lab, my dog. 

He's a big, slobbering, shedding, Mack-truck of a beast, whom I love dearly. 

But he's a mess, always eating my favorite chairs and sofas, enthusiastically bodyslamming into visitors who happen through the door (we call this his "Greeting Disorder") and chasing everything from squirrels to airplanes (he really does believe if he barks loud enough and jumps high enough, he can bring one down) -- so why on earth would I want another one of him?

The answer may be in the photo gallery you see directly to the left , or the video below.  Tommy with a puppy we dog-sat last week.  He LOVED her.  On the fear that he may accidentally slurp her up, I was supposed to keep them "separated," but Hope, the little Border Collie, and Tommy, had a bit of a love affair going on.

Whether it be the cat door (which Tommy ate, early on, so it's just a hole with chew-marks around the edges now) or the low-clearance bed giving the little one the escape-advantage, they stayed together most of the 5 days she was with us, and all of it her choice.

And, I saw a side of Tommy I hadn't seen before -- grownup dog.  He's 2 and a half years old, so still very much a puppy by lab standards.  But he was patient as a sweet older dog-shaped gentleman with little Hope.

Tommy seemed extra eager to please while she was around, too -- sitting and waiting, staying on his spot when told, dropping forbidden toys ...  perhaps to show off to his new little ladyfriend about how much he'd actually learned in dog class.  (He didn't do me the same favor.  At his final exam in Advanced Class, when I asked him to sit, he looked at me like he'd never seen me before, then looked around at the dog-circle for backup.  "she's crazy, yes?")


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So when Elita Loresca called me yesterday afternoon to tell me that she has a friend with puppies who need a good home, I actually started thinking about it. 

Tommy had so much fun playing and interacting and just relaxing with another dog ... I had to ask.  Two dogs, or not Two Dogs?  That is the question.

So, the majority of my page clicks today have been to dog advice websites.  Are two dogs twice as much work, or half as much?  I guess it depends on the dogs, and what you mean about "work."

I always start with J9s K9s, which is where Tommy got his training. 

Stephanie, Tommy's favorite instructor, sent me a bunch of advice on the 2 dog thing. 

This is the best part about dog training -- the instructors know your dog, and, if they're like Stephanie, they'll gladly offer "tech support" even when you're long graduated from class.

on the PRO side, Stephanie says:

* Can be entertaining to watch the two interact.
* They can buddy up and help keep each other company and help exercise each other. (But one shouldn't rely on that.)
* When the time comes that you lose one, you, the human, still have a dog in the home to help ease the loss just a bit.
* If you're a dog sport participant, you have several "players" on your team that you can work with.

The CON side is bigger, because as Stephanie says, there's a lot to reckon with:

* Challenging to train two at a time - they distract each other. Training time is doubled 'cuz you have to do it individually - at least until they're both good at a behavior.

* The "new dog" is more likely to pick up the bad habits of the original dog. Better to be sure the first dog is just how you like him before adding another.

* If you don't make a point to keep them apart for part of the day, they can over-bond to each other. This can lead to less interest in the human and create dogs that are mostly interested in each other.

* That over-attachment to each other can lead to stress when life throws a curve ball and one dog has to be gone -- to the vet or groomer, for example. The dog who is left behind will be stressed w/o his counterpart. Magnify the stress ten-fold when one dog dies!

* Two similar-aged dogs spending the day rough-housing can develop an overly rough-and-tumble play style that *could* lead to bully tendencies when out with other dogs. Can also lead to dog arousal when out in public and on leash. B/C they spend so much time having free access to play with the dog at hime, they think they should be able to play with EVERY DOG. Then, when out on leash, they get frustrated b/c they can't. Barking/lunging is the result. In extreme cases, that frustration turns to aggression. (Think doggie road rage!)

* Littermates are the WORST possible variation of multi-dog households. It's easily 3x as hard to raise two pups than one - at least when you're working to prevent all the "cons" from above. IMO, a reputable breeder will not sell littermates.

IMO, the best set up for a multi-dog household is to put about 2-3 yrs between dogs. That gives you time to train each dog to a level you're happy with. I also don't really think dogs *need* another dog in the home to be happy. They *need* companionship, but that's what the humans are for! If someone is contemplating a second dog to keep the first dog company, I'd argue that they shouldn't have the first dog to begin with. If you don't have time to spend with one dog - and you add another -- you'll likely end up with two untrained dogs - plus now you have double the poop, food, vet and boarding expenses.

She directed me toward "Diamonds in the Ruff" and a story on raising multiple dogs together.  I think the key is really in Stephanie's last bullet point ... dogs don't replace humans for eachother.  They still need you, and your time!

So, it's quite possible that animals will soon outnumber the humans in my house.  Is that a good idea?  The only way I may find out is to try it.

The strongest personality in the house is perhaps the cat, who is 13 this year and has just about had it with all these dogs lately. 

He has been known to be an enforcer, as you can see from this video on the left.  I'm hoping maybe he can lead the pack.  After all, he's the only one who comes running when I call.  Tommy turns, looks at me, gives me that crazy "catch me if you can" look, and takes off in the opposite direction.

And I want another one?

Editor's Note: I think the new dog should be named Bridget or Hazel and Manny Pacquaio (48-3-2) will beat Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs) in six rounds.

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