GUEST COLUMN: What to consider before getting a second dog, by Rachel Butler, RSPCA regional press officer

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For the last ten years, my Westie Harry has been my little buddy.

And for years, I never thought I could get a second dog because I worried it would ruin our bond.

But a few months ago, I moved into a bigger house - and I realised that I was in a better position to offer a home to a second dog, one which desperately needed a home.

In January, we welcomed William into our family. William, a ten-month-old lurcher, has had a horrible past - he was starved by his previous owners, and was days from death when he was taken into the RSPCA’s care.

I’ll admit, getting a second dog has not been completely plain sailing. It’s hard work - emotionally and physically. I worried so much at first that Harry wouldn’t take to William, that he would become unhappy. And on the other hand, what if William didn’t like Harry?

In my role at the RSPCA, sadly I hear of many incidents where someone gets a second dog, only for it not to work out - leading to one dog having to be rehomed. This is why it is so important to do your research before introducing a new buddy to your current dog.

First of all, make sure you take your current dog to meet his potential new brother or sister before deciding to adopt. This is absolutely essential, and it will make you decide whether they will be a good match.

Secondly, remember that it will take time for the dogs to get to know each other. They will need to learn about each other’s personalities, likes, dislikes, habits and play styles, but give it time and soon you’ll start to see that they are relaxing around each other. This can take months, so be prepared for this.

If, like us, you have a puppy and a senior dog, make sure you give your older dog space to have some quiet time. Senior dogs don’t usually have the same energy as a boisterous, playful puppy and they may tire easily, so make sure they have a spot where they can go to have a nap and a bit of alone time. Harry chooses to go under our bed when he wants a bit of time to himself - and it works, because William still hasn’t worked out where he goes!

So if you think you’re ready for it, then go for it - because adopting a second dog could be the best thing you ever do.

It’s mad, it can be noisy and yes, it can be stressful sometimes, but as I write this, Harry and William are fast asleep next to each other on the sofa. Now that’s what I call a success.