Second dog syndrome

I haven’t mentioned this in my recent Eden health posts, but Eden is suffering from another condition: Second Dog Syndrome.

She does everything with gusto
She does everything with gusto.

Thankfully, it’s not a serious condition, and it could be easily remedied, if we were better pet parents. But we have definitely fallen into this lazy pattern with Eden, which certainly did not characterize our behavior when we brought Pyrrha home. With Pyrrha, I was like Dog Helicopter Mom; I was in her business all the time, fretting about her constantly, reading every book, calling every dog person I knew, making spreadsheets for her training regimen… With Eden? I’m the mom in sweatpants on the couch yelling, “Git off your sister and stop being such a psychopath!”

Some of the key symptoms of Second Dog Syndrome:

  • The dog only knows how to do a few things, whereas the dog’s elder sibling has a repertoire of commands. We talk about how smart Eden is, and so people always ask us, “What can she do??” Um. She knows sit and down. And she can catch a mean Frisbee? But… that’s it.
  • The dog tends to wear hand-me-down collars and use old leashes. She was even wearing one of Pyrrha’s extra ID tags for a while, until we were offered a beautiful ID tag from Silver Paw for review.
  • The dog has no toys of its own. Never bought Eden a toy. The only toy Eden’s ever had was one she tried to steal when her foster mom dropped her off with me at PetCo; her foster mom, in compassion and kindness, bought Eden the toy (which she then brought home and shredded).
  • The dog is often left to its own devices (within reason), whereas the first dog was constantly watched, worried over, and attended to.

It’s a sad, sad condition. And lately, her craziness has been making me seriously reconsider our gross laziness with her training. Time to start treating Edie like a first dog!

Pretty, crazy baby
But at least she’s pretty? She’s really growing into her shape, I think.

Anyone else feel this way about adding a second dog to the household?


10 thoughts on “Second dog syndrome

  1. Honestly, this is one of the biggest reasons I haven’t adopted a second dog or started fostering … not just because I’m worried about the time of training the second dog, but because “shiny new dog” syndrome means the first dog would also get less training time.

    I have goals for my sheppie (right now I’m trying to finish her in Treibball and then I want to do obedience) and I’m worried if I adopted or foster too soon we won’t be able to hit them.

    I *know* a foster that couldn’t walk nicely on lead yet, or that has a fear issue, for example, would take up a serious amount of my focus and training time until they found a forever home. But I REALLY want there to be more hours in the day so I can do both…

  2. Faolan has third dog syndrome to an extent. I have only purchased on collar for him, a beautiful $70 leather one that broke, so he is once again wearing a collar that I purchased for Neeko over three years ago. Now I feel bad…

  3. Ha! So… we might be a little guilty of this with Alma. Moses was my first dog (ever) and as my control-freak nature allows, I went overboard (started a blog and everything…). With Alma, I’m much more relaxed. I think it’s a good thing. But I also wonder if it’s just something that’s come with time – I’m also more relaxed with Moses, too. (Of course, my definition of “more relaxed” is still probably a bit intense to some people.)
    I mean, at one point we had a command-word list for Moses that was over 40 different things he could do. Alma? Notsomuch. Then again, if I were to re-make this list for Moses, it’s also way less. We don’t practice or use half of them anymore with him, either.
    So I’m not sure if it’s Second Dog Syndrome, or just More Confident Dog Owner Syndrome?

    1. Ooh, good point! (More Confident Dog Owner Syndrome) I think I definitely have that, even if it’s an often unmerited title in my case, but I’m totally with you on the list of commands that Pyrrha could do (which she now only recalls three or four). Haha. Oh, life. It gets in the way of our early, high aspirations.

  4. Zoey (our second dog) probably knows the same, if not more, commands than Kasper…in fact it’s Kasper I feel sorry for, as since Zoey came along he’s been somewhat pushed out of the limelight! His walks aren’t as long as they used to be, I rarely get to train one-on-one with him anymore, when I play with him Zoey is always there etc etc…Zoey is the spoilt baby 😛

  5. I think there’s something about having a crazy dog (a term I use with affection, mind you) that forces you to chill out. I was SO DETERMINED that Silas would be perfectly well-behaved in every situation. Then I realized that this was not within my control. Not even close to being in my control. We still do a lot of training with him because it’s required to make his brain happy, but I suspect that I’ll back off a lot for our next dog, whenever that happens.

  6. Second and third hand dog syndrome is one reason I’ll be decreasing the rescue dog intake as I approach retirement (6 years away but I’m a sucker, so need to start the self-talk NOW). I used to train so much and so well compared to now. Justus is okay, Sheba needs tuning to not lose what she gained in her Puppies for Parole program before she’s adopted…etc., etc.
    I completely understand your concerns. And yes, Eden is growing into herself in a lovely manner.

  7. Nikita is our first rescue, and will always be my true love. Then we rescued Bella. They get along so great and it is pure joy to see how much they love each other. Since I stay at home, I always make time for each of them and do something special with them. I don’t play favorites, I just love them both with all my heart & soul. In reading the other comments, I agree with being a more confident dog owner when we rescued our second dog. I knew what to expect going through all the second puppy phases all over again. Our dogs are so close and just love each other so much, and that is priceless.

  8. This was very interesting, informative and funny. I can relate to the “get off your sister” comment! Our 1st Border terrier seemed so depressed when she was alone. (Yes, we have to work-but watch Abby on video cam. So we got a 2nd Border Pip (male & precious). But he does seem to be wilder and I attributed it to his young age. I will work with him more now after reading this. We were guilty of letting Abby be the alpha instead of us, the parents.

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