10 Signs You’re Ready for a Third Dog

First thing’s first: getting a third dog is not logical. It’s about love. When we met our rescued German shepherd, we just fell in love with him. It was easy to say yes, because, well, how could we say no?

I was nervous to adopt a third dog. My thoughts were filled with what-ifs, even though we had space in our house and our first two dogs were well-trained. Everyone else told me I was overthinking it. Nothing was holding us back—except ourselves. And now, my Papillon, Schnauzer mix, and German shepherd are here to tell you: two dogs are company, but three is definitely a party.


Here are the signs you’re ready for a third dog. Yes, I am totally enabling you.

1. You have puppy fever


Your puppies aren’t puppies anymore. You survived teething and leash training. You’re a late-night, take-your-puppy-out-to-pee hero. You miss the angelic puppy “yip” noise. You daydream about them. Can’t stop scrolling wistfully at pictures of puppies or new litters? How about another one?

2. You have adoptable dog fever


Very similar to puppy fever, only it applies to ALL THE DOGS. So many dogs! So little time! You just can’t help visiting your local shelter or scrolling through adoptable dogs online, and every single doggo you see tugs on your heart strings. We support you! The more the merrier. Well, as long as your new dog likes other dogs, of course (something to ask shelter or rescue staff before filling out the application).

3. Your two dogs already shed and poop


What’s a little more fur to sweep up or vacuum? The backyard is already their sanctuary, so what’s a few more piles of poop to pick up? You really don’t notice the difference. (Okay, maybe you will a little. Our GSD sheds as much as our other two weigh. And his poops are…much bigger.)

Also, those giant bags of dry dog food you pick up at the store seem like they’re made for a pack of three dogs anyway. Again, very little difference.

4. You have a family-friendly vehicle—or want an excuse to buy one


Third row seating? More like, third dog seating. Imagine hauling your new pack of three up a mountain or to the dog park, all of your pets and humans fitting comfortably inside. Even if you have three Havanese dogs. Nothing says, “The party’s here!” like you and the pack jumping playfully out of the SUV one-by-one.

5. Your house is everyone’s favorite “dog-friendly” spot

From barbecues to birthday parties, your friends adopted their dream dog and cannot wait to bring her over to play with your dogs. Your dogs play respectfully with other dogs. Your house is already dog-proofed. You always have spray cleaner and a towel ready for any accidents that occur on the hardwood floor. You’re patient and know when to jump in when roughhousing between your dogs get too ruff (yes, pun intended).

‘What’s one more?’ you ask yourself longingly as you wave your friend and her dog (or dogs!) good-bye.

6. You have a great dog walker and dog sitter


A reliable and friendly dog sitter and dog walker are worth their weight(s) in gold. (Don’t have one? Rover has you covered.) They know your routines when you’re not home and will be able to guide your new member of the family.

Plus, you can trust them to give you insight into how your new dog is adjusting into the pack and home. If you’re adding a puppy to the family, then a personalized doggy daycare provider is also very helpful—unless you’re lucky enough to be home all day with your pets. The dream…

7. You’re ready for the #packlife

I asked Hilary from Frederick, MD, if she had any advice about taking the plunge on a third dog. She said, “Dog training! We enjoy taking [our three dogs] everywhere we go and wouldn’t be able to do that if they weren’t trained. …Helped us all form a strong bond!”

You know you’re ready for a third dog if you’re committed to observing how all of your dogs’ personalities, energies, and ages mesh with one another. Your third dog does not have to match the breed, age, or sex of your first two, but it’s important to supervise the adjustment period as they learn to live with one another.

Our Papillon and German shepherd buddy up and sleep together all of the time. Our Schnauzer mix, on the other hand, is more solitary and lets our German shepherd know with a small growl when he’s not interested in laying near him.

8. You don’t mind a little chaos

A funny dog looking at the camera with its large ears spread out wide by human hands

It will be hectic. It can be noisy. But it’s a lot of fun. Many three dog owners I spoke to welcome a dash of spontaneity and activity into their lives. Evidence: I asked my friend Kelley if she had any advice about getting a third. She’s had multiple dogs her entire life and currently has four. She told me, “Just do it! They’ll figure each other out and it’ll work.”

9. You have the resources to help needy dogs


See: adoptable dog fever above. Most people I’ve talked to with three or more dogs opened their homes to dogs that needed rescuing. Cole from Woodinville, WA says, “with most dogs we find, they always have some sort of difficulty. So instead of putting them in a shelter where their disability might hold them back from being adopted, we keep them and give them as good of a life as we can.”

Which leads me to the final sign.

10. You’ve met a new forever friend


How does the old adage go? “Who chose who?” Adopting a third dog is a choice based on pure love and affection. Of course it’s not logical. You’re that much closer to having … four dogs! You’re becoming the crazy dog person in the neighborhood. But it’s a wonderful dilemma to have.

If you’re experienced, and you have the resources, then allow yourself to fall into it. Your house is going to be full of love and I can’t wait for you to join me in the #threedoglife.

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