Thoughts of a Dog Therapist – A Second Dog Won’t Solve Problems With Your First One

I think unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve probably seen at least one news report about how much the sale of puppies has increased during this pandemic. The last set of figures I saw claimed that 3.2 million UK households had acquired a new pet since the first lockdown began!! Obviously this counts all pets not just dogs but you get the general idea.

The question now is what will happen to all of those dogs once their owners have to go back to work full time?

I have had a couple of people contact me recently to discuss what the best options are for their newest family members and one lady in particular questioned whether she should get a second dog before she starts back so that the first one has a friend and isn’t lonely.

Obviously I’m not someone who disagrees with multi dog households, I mean I have 20 in my house but let me tell you a little story about the reason why I don’t believe that this is the best route to go down.

2006 was a big year for me, I started what I thought was my dream job in a well known pet store and I moved into the perfect house with Kev. We already had Russell after finding him in 2005 but unfortunately he suffered with terrible separation anxiety and we couldn’t leave him anywhere. We left him in my Mum’s capable hands once while we went out for the day and when we came back we found out that he’d somehow managed to open my Brothers bedroom door, climb out of his open window onto the porch roof and be rescued by the neighbours, all while my Mum was downstairs. When she’d checked on him earlier he’d been laying comfortably on the bed in my room so she left him there thinking he was ok. When we moved into our own house there was no way he was going to agree to staying home alone so we decided that the best thing to do would be to take on another dog to keep him company.

I went into work and told a few people that we were looking for another Jack Russell and one of the girls knew of a 6 month old one that needed a home. He belonged to her Nan but was too boisterous for her and she couldn’t keep him, so on my next day off I met up with her and Jake came home with me.

He was just as they had described him – boisterous, playful and super cute. He got on ok with Russell but didn’t help his separation anxiety at all. We still couldn’t leave him at home and now we had the added problem of Jake causing havoc as well. He was only ever alone for a maximum of 3 hours and used to be able to run around on the farm with one of our friends for a couple of hours a day, but that didn’t stop the chewing and pooping machine that was Jake.

He chewed shoes, curtains and carpets mostly so we decided that the best thing to do would be to crate him. He hated this and kept managing to break out of it. One day he broke out and then broke into our spare bedroom, pee’d on the bed and laid there cuddled up with our two cats until we got home. I tried everything to stop him from escaping, I cable tied it together, I put padlocks on the doors, I barricaded it in so that he couldn’t move it across the floor and smash it into things, but he still managed to get out by breaking the solders on the bars and bending them until the hole was big enough to fit through.

Our friend was getting as fed up with walking in and finding the mess as we were so she suggested that I lock him in one of her stables while I was at work. This seemed like a great idea because they were brick stables and the doors were so thick that there surely wouldn’t be any way that he could escape through them. We put a panel of mesh above the door to stop him from climbing out and I put him in there with everything he needed while I went off to work feeling rather happy with myself that we had found a solution. Our friend then messaged when she got there to say that he was still in the stable and all was ok and that she was going to let him out for a run around with her and would put him back before she went home.

This was like music to my ears and I spent the whole day at work safe in the knowledge that Jake was contained in a stable and that I wouldn’t have to clean up a tonne of mess when I got home.

As soon as I got home that afternoon I went running across to the stable to get my boy only to find that he wasn’t there! He’d managed to chew the corner out of the thick, wooden stable door and had escaped. He must have started chewing before our friend had arrived but because he hadn’t made it all the way through she hadn’t noticed, so when she put him back in he just continued.

I started to panic and was running around the farm shouting his name, I had no idea how long he’d been gone for or how far away he’d got, I didn’t even know if he’d be within earshot. I decided I needed a lead and some treats before I continued my search so I ran to my house to grab them and as I approached the front porch it looked as though the wooden panel on it had been smashed in.

As I got closer I realised that it hadn’t been smashed it had been chewed and when I opened the porch door there was Jake, asleep on our door mat waiting for someone to let him Indoors. I was overjoyed to see him and made a massive fuss of him but couldn’t believe that he’d spent all of that time and energy breaking out of the stable only to break into the porch and wait there!

So as you can see our quest to give Russell a companion and stop his separation anxiety was a complete failure. Not only could we still not leave him at home but now we had this crazy hurricane of a dog with a mouth of steel who was destroying everything! When Kev got gone he went across and reinforced the stable door with metal so that he couldn’t chew through it and from then on Jake stayed contained while we were at work.

This is the exact reason I don’t believe in buying a second dog to keep the first one happy, I have had first hand experience of it going wrong. I didn’t learn my lesson though because later that year I rescued Bert to keep Jake company but that’s a whole other story.