Dog trains man

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are Two Dogs Twice The Work?

With two Hovawarts, I occasionally get the question from people we meet, if two dogs are twice the work.

I remembered when I only had Kenzo, I asked others that question too.

"Not at all", has always been my firm answer.

Some people buy it, while nodding their head with a smile. Some people don't and say "Really?". I am so glad they asked.

We do have twice the nails to clip, twice as much fur to groom, twice the meals to prepare, twice the bills, twice the vet visits, and I can go on. Clearly something is not adding up.

We do our daily exercises to improve muscle tone and hind leg awareness. First Kenzo, then Tilde. Although - as you can see on the picture - Tilde can hardly wait for her turn, which indeed would make it easier if I could teach them to both balance the disc together.

Training so far is a private one-on-one thing as well, although while I am training with one, the other one gets to lie down on a blanket and wait, which in itself, is training too. Their training programs are different. Kenzo is obviously ahead in that department and follows a more "advanced program", while Tilde is still in the "sit, stay, come" stage of her career. We haven't come around training group commands with Tilde yet, which will be a great time-saver when we get that far.

Taking the dogs out for a walk is something we mostly do with the complete family, yet every day we also take one walk alone with one of them. Tilde, as a youngster, needs that alone time with me so we can grow as a team. She also should be able to play with other dogs, without the presence of her private comfort zone named Kenzo, who is always looking out for his little sister, and polices all her playmates to stay polite.

For the same reason Kenzo needs to have his walks alone with me as well, to give him a break from his self-appointed responsibilities, and to be out and about with some of his own pals, where he can play and have fun, without having to worry what his little sister is up to, and if he needs to come to her rescue.

And last but not least, they each need a little individual play time with me, and a private cuddle next to me on the sofa, hopefully more than once a day.

By now you must have started to wonder why I am obviously lying when I answer with a firm "No" to the question if two dogs are twice the work.

It's not because I am asking for some sympathy or try to complain how awfully hard it all is on poor me. I believe the question - ahem - is fundamentally wrong. I like to think of it more as twice the fun. Twice the excitement. Alright, in Tilde's case, twice the excitement is even an understatement. Also, it's twice the love received in return, and twice the reward. With such a return on investment, who talks about work?

Twice doesn't even cut it. There is more. Dogs give each other something else we can't. Here I went thinking Kenzo's frustrations were caused by his rigid physical therapy program, and he was already finished grieving over Viva. I was wrong. His frustrations and grief first disappeared when we adopted Tilde. He turned like a leaf as soon as we got her, from day one.

Not that I am saying to everybody to go and get a second dog. Time is still a limited resource, and we ain't all that lucky to have it available. Neither does every dog appreciate a four-legged companion in the house, and sometimes two individuals are simply not compatible. And I do remember, at first when we got Viva, a feeling of being outnumbered started to creep up on me, and some re-adjustments were needed to make the step towards a multi-dog household.

I too are still in awe of people with multiple-dog households holding even more than two dogs and how they seem to cope. I guess with a lot of experience, a lot is possible, and I am only just a beginner with my family of two.

If you would have the time and the money, and a second dog is something you are considering, then there is no need to measure it in work though. You'll forget about it as soon as you reap the rewards.

PS. Also, I hate "Yes, but ..." answers.


  1. I'm not sure I ever looked at multiple dogs as "extra work". It's a different experience, but no I don't consider what I do with the dogs as work. :)

    Monty and Harlow

  2. I feel like I don't give Elka enough time, I don't know how I'd do it with two dogs! (I'd have to be able to stay home from work, obviously.... ^^)


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