Your Questions: 'Should we take on a third puppy?'

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The Independent Online

Q. We recently bought a new male Yorkshire Terrier puppy to keep our five-year-old female Cavalier company. Everything is going well and they are settling in nicely together. The breeder asked us if we would consider taking on one of the other male puppies that has been returned to her. We are worried it might unsettle the others. Mary, via e-mail

A. There are a few issues here, but first you need to consider the financial implication. Having just one dog can be very expensive, as you will know. There are the vet bills (vaccinations, flea treatment, neutering, etc), food, grooming and if you go away, you need someone to look after it. A friend may take one dog but they certainly won't take three! And the initial cost of getting a puppy is high.

Provided you are happy with these costs, the next thing to consider is that if having one puppy is hard, having two is almost impossible, especially siblings! When you get pups from the same litter they have an incredible bond with each other, which makes training impossible – you might want to instill discipline, but all they want to do is run around and play together and not listen to you! When the brothers reach maturity, if there is no clear hierarchy in your pack: you may have to deal with fighting among them. And if you think that two tiny Yorkies fighting isn't a big deal, think again. They can cause a lot of damage and they will be very good at it because they have been practising during play times.

In your case, I would concentrate on your new puppy and maybe wait until he is older to add another dog; or you can prove me wrong and write me a letter in six months time telling me how wonderful it is having three dogs. These things can happen. You just have to be very patient and very lucky.

Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended