Unlocking the Canine Mind: Decoding ‘Survivor Dog Syndrome’ in Your Second Pet

Decoding 'Survivor Dog Syndrome'

Unlocking the Canine Mind: Decoding ‘Survivor Dog Syndrome’ in Your Second Pet


Unveiling the Canine Conundrum: “Second Dog Syndrome” Explained

Dog owners, devoted to their furry companions, may find themselves perplexed and frustrated when introducing a second pooch into the family dynamic.

This common experience is often attributed to what experts term “survivor dog syndrome.”

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a renowned canine and human behavior expert from the University of British Columbia, this phenomenon is not about the dog’s intelligence but rather rooted in human expectations.

Human Expectations: The Culprit Behind Canine Perceptions

Dr. Coren emphasizes that the perceived discrepancy in intelligence between the first and second dogs is not the fault of the canine but stems from the owner’s expectations.

With the first dog, owners invest substantial time in training, creating a strong bond and shared routine. However, when the second pup enters the scene, the familiarity with dog responsibilities may lead to less attentive training.

Drawing a parallel with parenting, Dr. Coren notes, “Your first child comes into your life and becomes the center of your existence… Then you get a second child.

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You’re not quite as attentive and don’t really focus on their education as much.” Similarly, the second dog may seem less intelligent because it hasn’t had the same time to learn commands like the first.

Breaking the Myth: Dogs Aren’t Less Intelligent, Just Unfamiliar

“The important thing is not that the dog is less intelligent,” Dr. Coren states. “It’s us developing too high expectations.” This phenomenon was initially studied in guide and service dogs, revealing that higher expectations led to the return of second assistant dogs, causing emotional and financial consequences for the owners.

Learning from Experience: The Evolution of Dog Ownership

As owners accumulate more dogs, Dr. Coren believes they gradually realize that each dog requires effort. Although the time invested may not match that of the first dog, by the third or fourth canine companion, owners tend to be less critical and more content.

Dr. Coren does not blame dog owners for experiencing this phenomenon, acknowledging that he, too, is human and susceptible to such perceptions when introducing a new dog to his household.

Understanding the Scope: Millions of Dog Owners Share the Experience

Approximately 62 million U.S. households own at least one dog, with 21.5 million owning two or more, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

If you’re grappling with this feeling, rest assured you’re not alone in navigating the complexities of multiple-dog households.

‘Second Dog’ Behaviors Go Viral on TikTok

A burgeoning trend on TikTok captures the essence of “second dog syndrome.” Owners share video snippets comparing the behavior of their first and second dogs, set to the popular “I’m Just Ken” song.

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The clips, often captioned with phrases like “Your first dog that made you want a second,” resonate with millions, highlighting the universal nature of this experience.

In the comments, pet owners share their own tales, reinforcing Dr. Coren’s perspective that perhaps it’s not the second animal but human expectations driving these perceptions.

Conclusion: The Heart of the Matter is Human Psychology

In conclusion, Dr. Coren, who has authored 18 books on the human-animal relationship, underscores the pivotal role of human psychology.

Understanding and adjusting our expectations can foster a harmonious multi-dog household, ensuring each furry family member is appreciated for their unique qualities.

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Source: Newsweek