Does your dog need a companion?
You have a new dog and everything is great. Suddenly you wonder if your dog needs a companion? Should it be another dog? or a cat? of farm animals like, chickens, geese or ducks? Or is my new dog fine with just us humans to keep him company? Well, you are not alone wondering this. A lot of people that get pets wonder if they made the right choice by only getting one single dog.
The short answer to this question is an easy “No”. Although it is true that dogs are pack animals and have thousands of years of instinctual traits built-in as being part of a pack. The reality is that YOU are now part of the pack. The dog sees those people around him as members of the pack and develops social and behavioral skills and habits based upon his interactions with that pack.
That was the short answer.
Exceptions to the rule
The long answer is a little more complex. Even though it is true that dogs do not NEED animal companions, there are situations that it would be beneficial for the animal to have a friend, that was another animal, in tow.
There are breeds of dogs who are a little more laid back than other more active, “busy” breeds. For example, compare Irish Setters and Basset Hounds. Right off the bat, you can see the differences in how actively different these two breeds are. You can also compare two different dogs that are the same breed and easily see the differences as well. My son, had a Chocolate Lab that was just a big mellow bear compared to my Black Lab Guinness who will run all day and never gets tired.. both labs, but very different in levels of activity and personality.
An understanding of certain dogs being very busy is the keystone in determining if you should provide your dog with a companion. If your dog is very busy there is always a chance that the dog may get bored. The behaviors we see with bored dogs are generally negative. For example chewing on things, pacing, excessive barking, and whining for company.
If you have a busy, active dog, you will be required to spend more time with it than one who is just happy just laying around chilling and watching the world go by. You should also take into account the amount of room you have that permits the dog to run around a disperse a little energy. A dog who has a lot of energy does not have space to run and is in a relatively confined area adds up to nothing but trouble. They will find things to do.. and those things are generally not positive activities as seen by their fellow pack members.. the humans.
Things to consider
If you think that your dog needs a companion there are things to consider. What type of companion? Another dog? Some other types of animals? What sex? All these things must be considered when choosing a companion for your dog.
Un-neutered male dogs might not want another male dog in the house who is also neutered. A male dog might see a female dog companion as a “love interest”. Some dogs do not care for cats and may show aggression toward cats. Geese, ducks, and chickens may not tolerate a smaller dog or conversely, a bigger dog may find these birds “fair game”.
Key to happiness
When looking into determining if your dog needs a companion, I have found in a lifetime of pet ownership (60 years!) that the perfect companion for your dog is you, your loving family and a home that makes them feel welcome and cared for. Usually.. not always, but usually a dog with poor behavior can be attributed to a dog with an owner who has neglected or not provided that dog with the environment it needs to flourish physically, mentally and emotionally.
This is not to say that another dog or two [or three or more!) should not happen. It is also not a diss on having cats, chickens or goats to befriend your pup. It is just to say that if you have a dog, understand that it is a commitment to that animal for its life. You choose that animal so it is up to you to provide an environment.. both socially and physically.. that is commensurate with the dog you choose and the life it needs to lead and live in.
Your dog may or may not do well with a companion. I don’t think a companion is necessary for a dog to be happy. However, will a dog be happier if they have you and friend in tow? Possibly, as long as you are taking care of the basic physical and social needs, additional animal friends might be an added bonus to their growth.
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