Jazzy

Jazzy, a four-year-young Chihuahua mix at Second Chance Humane Society, looks like a cute little fruit bat baby. (Courtesy photo)

Alone time can be a good thing, but too much alone time for social beings … not so good. Modern society has resulted in an increase in single-dog households, as family’s lives feel too hectic to take on additional pets. I get that you humans are busy creatures and I am not dissing you for choosing to have only one dog. But I would like you to consider that, not only do multi-dog households help to save lives, but their dogs can be more content and self-actualized. Let me explain why, and, yes, it is OK to apply “self-actualized” to dogs.

Dogs love to socialize. We prefer to live in social units to gain the comfort of constant companionship and increased feelings of security. In my opinion, the positives of multiple dog households far outweigh the little bit of extra effort involved.

Dogs descended from wolves of highly evolved social societies. They lived harmoniously in large family groups and hunted together. When a youngster misbehaved, he was ostracized — the ultimate punishment. Thus, being alone can have negative associations for your dog.

If you work long hours or are otherwise fully engaged, your dog will feel left out. These feelings can lead to negative behaviors such as destructive chewing, excessive barking or licking, or depression. It is very important to dogs to have a sense of belonging to a family unit.

Additionally, dogs thrive on exercise. Few humans will play with your dog the way another dog might. You won’t tussle in mud puddles, nor find pleasure in putting your mouth around a dog’s legs while wrestling. Not many people can keep up with chasing balls and sticks, either.

Although having another dog in your household can be very handy it is true that two bored dogs will tend to chew and dig more than one that’s left alone for long periods of time. So despite the benefits, multi-dog families still need to get out regularly. We will play harder together if our pack leader is out with us.

It is also usually true that a second dog is far easier to train when you already have another well-trained dog. Your well-trained dog will help the second dog with important transitions from housetraining to proper household manners to learning the daily routine (like sleeping in!). Copying each other’s behavior is a natural part of canine development and pack cohesion.

If I have convinced you that your current dog needs a companion (and for dogs accustomed to being alone this may not hold true) please note that finding the right companion is critical. Knowing whether two dogs make a good fit can be tricky, so make sure your dog spends time with a potential new dog before making the decision. Beyond chemistry, you should consider activity levels and proclivities to create some common ground. Next week we will write about how to create a safe and positive transition for your new dog.

ABOUT ME

My name is Jazzy, and I am a charming, four-year-young Chihuahua mix. I arrived at Second Chance several weeks ago, as my former person was unable to care for me anymore. With my big ears and little face, people compare me to a fruit bat, although I have not yet mastered flight. I am a tiny dog with a big personality that loves attention, cuddles, laps and walks. There are many dogs that I would be a great companion for, so let’s all meet soon!

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat or other programs. View our shelter pets and services online at adoptmountainpets.org.