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  • Writer's pictureStacey Bell

Exploring Exceptions: Can a Second Dog or Another Pet Help with Separation-Related Behaviors in Dogs




When it comes to addressing separation-related behaviors in dogs, the general consensus is that introducing a second dog or another pet is not a solution. However, as with many aspects of animal behavior, there may be exceptions to the rule. Let’s delve into whether there are instances where a second dog or another pet can indeed have a positive impact on alleviating separation-related behaviors in dogs.


The General Perspective:

Before exploring potential exceptions, let's understand the prevailing viewpoint. Separation anxiety in dogs is primarily driven by their strong attachment to a specific individual or people generally rather than a lack of social companionship. As such, the mere presence of another pet often will not significantly alleviate their distress when separated from people. 


Exploring Potential Exceptions:

While outcome of getting a second pet resulting in reducing or resolving separation-related behaviors is not often the case , there are situations where exceptions have been observed. Consider the following scenarios:


1. Recent Loss of a Pet: The loss of a companion pet can potentially contribute to the development or exacerbation of separation anxiety in dogs. Dogs are social animals, and the sudden absence of a familiar and bonded companion can disrupt their sense of security and stability. 


The grieving process that dogs go through after the loss of a companion can manifest as separation anxiety. They may become more clingy, exhibit signs of distress when left alone, or display behaviors such as excessive vocalization, destructive behavior, or house soiling. 


In cases like this where the onset or escalation of separation-related behaviors occur when another pet passes, another pet may alleviate their anxiety.

Remember that every dog is unique and their response to loss and separation can vary. By providing patience, understanding, and support, as well as closely observing them for signs of stress and anxiety you can help your dog navigate the grieving process and minimize the potential impact on their emotional well-being.


2. History of Group Kenneling: Dogs who were kenneled together, such as hunting dogs or ex-racing greyhounds, may have a higher likelihood of benefiting from having an additional pet in the house when it comes to separation-related behaviors due to social bonding, mimicking previous social structure, possible reduced dependence on humans, and shared experiences.


3. Individual Temperament: Each dog has its own personality and disposition. Some dogs may be more sociable and receptive to forming bonds with other animals. These individuals may have a higher likelihood of benefiting from the presence of a second pet as a source of companionship and distraction during periods of separation.




Is Another Pet Right For You? 

If you are keen on the idea of testing out whether your dog’s separation-related behaviors are lessened by another pet, it is important to first consider if a second pet is something that you want.  Is the additional cost- both monetary and time- acceptable?  Are you committed to working through other problems that may arise with a multi-pet household?  


Furthermore, it is important to consider compatibility and introduce them gradually.  If the second pet is chosen carefully, ensuring they have compatible temperaments and positive interactions, it can enhance the chances of a successful companion dynamic that may positively impact separation-related behaviors.


A really good way to ‘test the waters’ without committing to another pet is to check with local rescues to determine if they have a foster-to-adopt program.


See my blog Considering a New Dog for more things to evaluate.


Considering Professional Guidance:

When contemplating the addition of a second pet to address separation-related behaviors, it is helpful to seek professional guidance. Consulting with a veterinarian or an experienced animal behaviorist will provide insights tailored to your specific dog's needs, temperament, and the dynamics of your household. They can assess the potential exceptions and help determine whether a second pet is a suitable option for your particular situation.


Conclusion:

While it is generally acknowledged that a second dog or another pet is not a guaranteed solution for separation-related behaviors in dogs, exceptions can indeed occur. Factors such as recent loss of a pet, history of group kenneling, and individual temperament can influence the potential benefits. 


By seeking professional guidance and considering the unique needs of your dog, you can make an informed decision regarding whether a second pet could be an exception worth exploring. Remember, what works for one dog may not work for another, so a customized approach is crucial in addressing separation-related behaviors and ensuring the overall well-being of your furry friend.

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