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One Dog or Two?

I have one dog and my family is often not home. For several hours a day, five days a week, my dog is left alone. Should I get a second dog, and why would it help?


Dogs are pack animals, meaning they have an instinct to live among a group. They look at the world differently than humans. To them, there must be an order in their group, a leader, a boss of the household. In their minds, everyone must have a place, from the leader on down to the lowest member of their group. In order for humans and dogs to coexist happily, humans must understand the dog’s instinct to have an order and understand how to show the dog where his order in the family is. When dogs live with humans, the humans become their pack. Dogs must be shown they are last in the pack order. What does this mean, "last in the order"? It means the dog looks at all the other humans in the family as the bosses, his leaders. He will happily follow their commands and accept that they are his bosses. Believe it or not, dogs are very happy to be last in the pack order. A dog becomes unhappy and stressed when the order is not clear to him and he feels he needs to test the order.

When a dog is separated from his pack he may become worried, stressed and unhappy, sometimes leading to Separation Anxiety. A lot of destructive behaviors stem from dogs who just cannot deal with being separated from their packs. A lot of unwanted dogs in pounds are there because of behaviors which stemmed from the stress of being left alone without their packs.

It is very common for a dog to be perfectly behaved while you are home, yet destructive and untrustworthy while you are away. There are many things one can do to curb or cure this behavior, like crating the dog while you are gone. However, while crating the dog stops your furniture from being chewed, it does not cure the dog from being unhappy and miserable.

We humans have busy lives, and while we are focused on our tasks for the day in order to keep the household running (i.e., earning a paycheck, and the kids going off to school), the dog sees his pack all leaving him behind, with no understanding of why everyone is leaving and not bringing him along.

So, what can we do to help our dogs cope with living among a busy human household that must leave him behind on a regular basis?

The first thing you want to do is start exercising your dog with a long walk right before you leave for your busy day. This will put the dog in a rest mode while you are gone. Whether you have one dog or a whole pack of dogs, a long, daily walk is paramount. Not just tossing a ball or running around the yard, but a real walk, jog or hike. When a dog is lacking in exercise, his energy bottles up inside him. Just as birds have an instinct to fly, dogs have in instinct to migrate. Running around your backyard does not curb this migration instinct. This can cause a bunch of behavior issues.

Have you ever thought of getting a second dog? Busy households that must leave their dog home alone for long periods of time may wish to consider it. This may not cure a dog from chewing your trash while you are gone, as half his pack is still leaving him, and heck, there's something tasty in there after all! However, your dog will be happier. I have heard of countless stories of old dogs becoming active again, playing with the younger dog, and a skittish dog coming out of its shell when introduced to a second dog. Sometimes dogs are just happier living with another fellow K-9.

For those of you who have never owned two dogs, it is instinctual for the dogs to compete to see who is first in the pack order. Humans should be so clearly the leader that the issue of boss never arises in the dog's mind. This can be accomplished with no yelling or hitting involved, just some simple behaviors on the humans’ part. Challenges between two dogs should be stopped by the human, making it clear it is not acceptable.

For the average dog owner, a general good rule for adding a new dog is, when you take in new dog you make sure the new dog has the same or lower energy level than the current dogs and is middle of the road or a submissive type. That is ideal for a good combo that does not require an expert dog owner to make it work and keep peace. When an additional dog moves in that is higher energy or more alpha than the current dog the adjustments in the relationship are difficult as the pack has to totally re-do the order and all the dogs have to work it out. An owner who does not know how to guide it into happening peacefully can find themselves with all types of issues.

Consult a professional if you do not know how to do this. Read about Natural Dog Behavior


Second Dog Success Stories

Mojo, a 7 week old German Shepherd Dog puppy, with Fluffy, a 4 month old mixed Fox Terrier

Mojo, a 7-week-old German Shepherd Dog puppy, with Fluffy, a 4-month-old mixed Fox Terrier. "I got Fluffy first, and he was very shy and fearful during the first few days. He would hide and show shyness when approached. Then I got this l’il cute Mojo. She was very inquisitive and very playful right from the first day. At first I feared that Fluffy would bite and snap at her, but they became friends and they still play a lot together. It seems that Mojo is the dominant one now though she is only 7 weeks old. :P"







"I adopted a 7-month-old Great Pyrenees to work on our farm. He was an outside dog, obviously, he cannot protect the herd inside the house, and therefore was not part of the human pack. He was meant to bond with the goats and live among them. He was extremely skittish, and I knew this when I adopted him. He was so upset and afraid of everything that he drooled most of the time and hid in his dog house.

"He was supposed to be a working dog, living with the goats and keeping the foxes, raccoons and opossums from eating the chickens. Months went by, and he remained skittish, afraid of his own food bowl and extremely skittish around humans he was unfamiliar with, including my own children.

"I went out and bought him a female Great Pyrenees puppy to work with and the results were amazing!

Great Pyrenees - Tundra and Tacoma

"The first day I brought the puppy home, my skittish Py forgot he was afraid of my kids, came out of his doghouse, jumping around like the happy Py I knew he could be.

Great Pyrenees - Tundra and Tacoma

"From that day on, he did a complete turnaround. He became less and less afraid of things. Today both dogs are very good flock guards.”

Great Pyrenees - Tundra and Tacoma, Full Grown
They are both very happy dogs

Great Pyrenees - Tundra and Tacoma, with their Goats
Mary-Sue, Sweet-Pea, Tacoma, and Tundra

Great Pyrenees - Tundra and Tacoma Protecting their Herd


Jordyn with Jedi the Jack Russell and Koda the Shepherd Collie mix

"We adopted Jedi, a Jack Russell from a friend when she was 1 year old. Jedi bonded with my girls, and our 2-year-old Shepherd/Collie mix, Bailey, immediately.

Jade reading a book while Jedi the Jack Russell curls up to take a nap


Jedi the Jack Russell and Koda the Shepadoodle looking out the window

"In January 2006, we adopted a rescued Shepadoodle puppy to keep Jedi company while we were away at work. Just recently, after months of sitting together looking out the window and barking at the squirrels, Jedi was finally able to teach Koda the puppy how to howl."


Written by Sharon Maguire and Dawn Littlefield © Dog Breed Info Center ® All Rights Reserved




Natural Dogmanship

It's a Way of Life

A Group Effort

Why Dogs Must be Followers

What Does it Mean to be Dominant?

Dogs Only Need Love

Different Dog Temperaments

Dog Body Language

Dog Training vs. Dog Behavior

Punishment vs. Correction in Dogs

Are you setting your dog up for failure?

Lack of Natural Dog Behavior Knowledge

The Grouchy Dog

Working with a Fearful Dog

Old Dog, New Tricks

Understanding a Dog's Senses

The Human Dog

My Dog was Abused

Successfully Adopting a Rescue Dog

Positive Reinforcement: Is it enough?

Adult Dog and the New Puppy

Why Did My Dog Do That?

Proper Way to Walk a Dog

The Walk: Passing Other Dogs

Introducing Dogs

Dogs and Human Emotions

Do Dogs Discriminate?

Speaking Dog

Dogs: Fear of Storms and Fireworks

Providing a Job Helps Dog with Issues

Teaching Dogs to Respect the Kids

Proper Human to Dog Communication

Rude Dog Owners

Canine Feeding Instincts

Human to Dog No-No's: Your Dog

Human to Dog No-No's: Other Dogs

FAQ About Dogs

Small Dogs vs. Medium and Large Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Dominant Behaviors in Dogs

The Submissive Dog

Bringing Home the New Human Baby

Approaching a Dog

Top Dog

Establishing and Keeping Alpha Position

Alpha Boot Camp for Dogs

Guarding Furniture

Stopping a Jumping Dog

Using Human Psychology on Jumping Dogs

Spaying and Neutering your Dog

Submissive Peeing

An Alpha Dog

Who's More Prone to Fight, Male or Female Dogs?

Whelping: Puppy Nipple Guarding

The Truth behind the Pit Bull Terrier

Protecting Your Puppy from Dog Attacks

Chaining Dogs

SPCA High-Kill Shelter

A Senseless Death, a Misunderstood Dog

Amazing What a Little Leadership Can Do

Transforming a Rescue Dog

DNA Canine Breed Identification

Dog Bite Survey

Raising a Puppy

Stages of Puppy Development

Introducing a New Crate to a Puppy or Dog

Puppy Temperament Test

Puppy Temperaments

A Dog Fight - Understanding your Pack

Understanding your puppy or dog

Runaway Dog!

Socializing your Dog

Should I Get a Second Dog

Is your Dog Out of Control?

Illusion Dog Training Collar

Top Dog Photos


Training your Puppy or Dog

Puppy Biting

Deaf Dogs

Are You Ready for a Dog?

Breeders vs. Rescues

Find the Perfect Dog

Caught in the Act

The Pack of Dogs is Here!

Recommended Dog Books and DVDs


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About Dog Breed Info Center®
Understanding Dog Behavior
Natural Dogmanship
What does it mean to be dominant?
Successfully Adopting a Rescue Dog
Transforming a Rescue Dog
Proper way to walk a dog
Raising a Puppy
Why did my dog do that?
Speaking Dog
Small Dog Syndrome
Dominant Behaviors in Dogs
Jumping Dogs
FAQ about dogs
Alpha Boot Camp for Dogs
The Human Dog
Ready For a Dog?
Dog Bite Survey
Dog Breed Popularity Survey
Dog Breed Quizzes
List of Dog Names
Dogs Caught in the Act
Those Amazing Dogs
Dog Care Training and More
Designer Dogs? What?
Pictures of Mixed Breed Dogs
Puppies vs. the Adult Dog
Chaining Your Puppy or Dog
So, you want to breed your dog...
Feeding Puppies and Adult Dogs
Corn in Dog Food. Really?
Collectible Vintage Figurine Dogs
Success Stories & Positive Feedback


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