When contemplating a new pup, many people are tempted to get two: Twice the fun, no one's lonely, everything's great! Why not?

I'll tell you why not: double the money, double the training, double the trouble.

The dominant thinking behind the desire to bring two new dogs home at the same time is that you'll avoid having one lonely dog. Don't do this to yourself. Dogs don't get lonely. People do. The dominant thinking, in other words, isn't really thinking at all. It's guilt.

When you introduce a new puppy into your household, the most important thing that needs to happen from Day 1 is the formation of a bond between the dog and his owner. This requires lots of one-on-one time, attention and patience, and it's essential in that it lays the foundation for everything that follows.

When you introduce two new puppies into your household, bonding between the dogs and their owner is still the most immediate concern, and it requires the same time, attention and patience — times two.

Bonding won't work as a two-for-one deal. Dogs are pack animals, and given the choice, they'll bond with each other instead of you. That is their instinct, their nature, and there is nothing you can do about it — except to separate them and bond with them one at a time.

Let's say you bring the two cutie-pies home and put in the requisite bonding time with each of them as the individual pup he is. You're off to a good start, but you're not done. Think walks times two, play times times two. ...

Bonding is an ongoing project, especially with two dogs the same age. You have to work twice as hard to establish yourself as the pack leader with both dogs. What happens when people buy dogs in pairs is that one pooch is inevitably more outgoing than the other. This means you have to take the shy dog and devote extra time to his socialization to people in order to prevent behavioral problems down the line.

And yes, twice the pooch means twice the training. You can't effectively train them together because they'll distract each other. And if you have a responsive dog that is submissive to a stubborn dog, you're going to have a much harder time training both of them because the responsive dog is more likely to follow his stubborn, dominant counterpart than your commands.

And at the end of the day, double the money, too. Food bowls, water bowls, leashes, collars, crates, food, treats, tags, medicine, shots, toys — all times two.

Bringing home two pups is not as cute and simple as letting them loose in the backyard to entertain each other and you. It's not one dog, eight legs. It's two dogs, two mouths, two personalities, with twice as much work and the potential for twice as many problems.

If you can't imagine life without a pair of pups, you'd be wise to bring them home at one-year or longer intervals. There's a reason the childbearing process in humans takes nine months, and you don't hear of too many people keeping their fingers crossed for twins.


Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest and host of the PBS series "WOOF! It's a Dog's Life!" Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619. © Creators Syndicate Inc.