Why I Only Have One Dog

I’m often asked why I only own have one dog. It’s a good question, especially given my enthusiasm for all dog related topics. The truth is I wish I could own more – but my first responsibility is to Laika, my beloved canine companion that I currently share my home with.

I’ve always had a dog at my side except for one brief 3 month period a few years back. Most of the time I’ve actually had two dogs at my side, and for a few years even three. Now I only own one dog, and she’s completely different from any previous dogs I’ve owned.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m blaming her – yes, she is difficult but I strongly believe that if I had began training her earlier and with half the knowledge I know now things would be quite different.

She’s Reactive

Daily walks with Laika aren’t always what I would consider stress free. Luckily we live in a rural part of town so the chances of us meeting a small dog, bike, garbage truck, or anything else she deems her enemy are quite low. But it still occurs. She’s gotten much better with a lot of desensitization and training classes but she still refuses to see these certain things as anything other than something that must be destroyed.

If I had a second dog I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking both. It’s hard enough for me to keep control of Laika at times – I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to control two large dogs, especially if said second dog picks up on her reactivity and also decides to lunge and/or bark.

I suppose I could walk them separately but given the fact that I work it would cut down on the length quite a bit. What’s the point of having two dogs if they can’t participate in daily activities together? It could be done, but it doesn’t seem ideal.

She Guards Her Stuff

Although Laika no longer resource guards her food or toys from me she still exhibits guarding behavior when it comes to other dogs. I’ve had dogs over and it all goes well until our guest dog touches something of hers. It’s really not pleasant, and unfortunately it’s not something we’ve been able to completely correct or manage.

She resource guards me from other dogs. It was really shocking the first time I witnessed it; Laika was only 6 months old or so and as I went to pet another friends dog she quickly intervened by growling and snapping at the other dog. Given the fact that she was so young most people thought it was “cute” – she was protecting me. It’s not protection, and I’ve learned that there’s nothing cute about it.

We’ve been slowly working on the resource guarding around other dogs with a trainer. It’s not going as well as I had hoped but there is some progress.

If I were to get another dog how could I trust them alone together? I assume I’d have to feed them separately. Would Laika get used to sharing or would it always be a potential fight? I don’t think it’s worth the risk to find out. I could go with the crate and rotate routine but what’s the point of having two dogs if they can’t be ‘free’ together?

own one dog

Are “only dogs” happy? Do they miss out by not having canine companionship at home?

She’s Unpredictable

Her reactivity or resource guarding can come on suddenly in my eyes – if I were a trained professional perhaps I’d see some warning signs, but I’m not. I’m an average dog owner trying to do the best I can to manage my dog.

Tail raised and licking lips – I see those signs. What I am failing to see is how she’ll be playing with a dog, rolling around having a great time, then suddenly she snaps. All the dogs I’ve had in the past would get into little tiffs occasionally when playing – it’s usually a growl and one snap to let the other dog know “enough.” Laika always wants to take it further.

I Love Having One Dog

I love the bond Laika and I have. She actually listens to me, and I try my hardest to listen to her. Every day we find stuff to do that we both enjoy whether it’s frisbee, nose work games, tug, puzzles, the flirt pole. I’ve never had just one dog before and it’s really amazing how well I feel I know her. We depend on each other for entertainment – whether it’s a fun game or some training sessions.

I love having one dog, but does a dog like being the only dog? Is a human really entertaining enough? Is my inability to roughhouse to her liking somehow depriving her of something in her nature?

I Can Handle Her – If It’s Just Her

I love my dog. I wouldn’t trade her for the world. She’s forced me to learn things about dog behavior that I once thought was only for experts.

Although her behavior can cause me stress at times when I’m with her I’m so focused on her behavior I forget about my own problems. It’s all about making her comfortable and reducing her stress. I enjoy seeing her improve, it gives me a certain pride that I haven’t had before as a dog owner. The dogs in my past knew how to relax, knew how to relate, and knew how to have a good time. With Laika I’m trying to get her to that place – we’re getting (slowly) closer to that it each and every day.

I often think if I had already owned a well adjusted dog when Laika came into my home things could have turned out much differently. My older, wiser dog could have shown her the ropes – taught her all about proper doggie etiquette. If I bought another dog home at this point I’d be just as fearful that she would teach them her bad habits.

I love having two dogs, don’t get me wrong. Seeing them play all day long and cuddle up at night is one of the best feelings in the world. I’ve experienced it many times with all the dogs in my past. It does sadden me to think Laika’s missing out on true canine companionship. She has a few close dog friends that she gets to play with at least once a week but it’s nothing like all day wrestle mania in the living room.

I have to be honest with myself – I don’t know if I could handle two dogs while I own Laika – and that’s something I’m not willing to fail at.

Are Some Dogs Better as “Only Dogs”?

I always see dogs at the shelter that are labeled as “not dog friendly” and I’ve always wondered about that statement. Are some dogs really unable to happily live with another dog? Is it due to poor socialization or abuse? How do you manage multiple dogs when one is either a resource guarder or reactive?


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