In our family, dogs are like potato chips – you can’t have just one. Typically, we always have two dogs. Every once in a while we’ll have a few years when we have three dogs, and if we do ever have just one dog it never takes us very long to acquire a second.
Sometimes a second dog isn’t a very good idea. You may have a dog that needs to be the only pet in the home, and that’s okay. Some dogs are more comfortable if they are the only canine in the pack.
Likewise, some dogs enjoy having a playmate. It may calm their anxiety, because they are never left alone. If you choose to adopt a second dog you will have the peace of mind in knowing that when you leave for work your dog still has a companion around all day.
WATCH THIS: How To Introduce Your Puppy To An Existing Dog (Video)
Adopting a second dog will not fix your established dog’s behavior problems – it may even cause more!
8 Tips on Adopting A Second Dog
There are many things that you need to consider when deciding whether adopting a second dog is going to be a good choice for your family or not. You’ll need to think about your current dog and what qualities you’ll have to look for in a second dog. You need to decide if you’d like to adopt a puppy or an adult dog.
Puppies are really great, but if you already have a senior dog a puppy may not be a good fit. Puppies are busy and can be rough while playing. An active puppy may injure an older dog or just drive him crazy. Senior dogs enjoy their rest and may become aggravated by a young puppy.
1. The Michigan Humane Society
The Michigan Humane Society has posted an extensive questionnaire on their site that will help guide you in making these decisions.
Are you prepared for double the expense (medical costs, food, etc.) and double the work (poop scooping, vacuuming, training, walking which sometimes must be done separately – etc.)?
Do you want another dog for you…or for your dog?
Does everyone in your home want another dog?
Have you ever lived with more than one dog?
You mean feel compelled to adopt a second dog, but it’s not a race. Take your time while making this decision and make sure to consult with every member of your family. This is going to be a family adventure, and everyone needs to be on the same page.
It seems simple – you already have one dog, how hard will it be get a second? WRONG! Adopting a second dog will change your family’s entire dynamic. The way things work now will not be the way they will work with a new dog, and you need to be prepared for that.
2. West Vet Blog
The West Vet Blog shares some great tips on what you need to consider pre-adoption including:
- Researchers tell us that dogs of opposite genders generally work best together. Sometimes same gender dogs will have dominance and submission issues which may result in fighting and injury, not to mention stress for the dogs. In addition, there are some breed-specific recommendations for adopting a second dog—do some research, speak with your veterinarian, and/or a reputable dog behaviorist first.
Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll need to get yourself prepared to introduce the two dogs before you decide to officially adopt. Shelters, rescue organizations and responsible breeders should have no problem with you bringing your current dog in to visit your potential new pet.
As this blog from Wright-Way Rescue describes, many dog owners underestimate the kinds of problems that can occur if you do not introduce dogs to each other in an appropriate way.
- The average pet owner does not have a clue about how strong the genetic pack instinct is that floats just under the fur of their lovable family pet. The addition of a second or third dog into the home often triggers a genetic pack drive or RANK DRIVE. Many people are shocked and confused when they see the level of aggression that their sweet family dog is capable of.There is usually more than one thing going on that result in these problems. To name just a few: a house dog is often territorial; there can be rank or dominance problem between the new dogs; or there can be inter-male or inter-female issues that result in aggression.
As this blog from ShibaShake.com suggests, taking your potential new pet home for a test-drive is not a bad idea.
- I first took Shania home for a test-drive week, to see if she would get along with Sephy. Most good local breeders and adoption/rescue organizations are flexible with the initial try-out period. In fact, they are usually willing to take a dog back, even when things do not work out in the longer term. After all, everyone wants what is best for the dog.
According to ReachOutRescue.org, you need to introduce the two dogs to each other a minimum of three times on neutral ground before you bring the two into your home together. This will should give you a good idea of the dynamic between the two dogs before you add your home into the mix.
5. Reachout Rescue
Your established dog will likely act different on his home turf. He may feel the need to be act protective of his space. If you introduce the animals on neutral territory first, he may not feel as protective since he’ll already know the second dog. This article on their website has many other beneficial tips on introducing your established dog to your potential pet.
- Here are some tips to help make the introductions go as smoothly as possible.
- Allow the new dog to investigate the new home several times a day while leashed, when the established dog is outside or otherwise occupied.
- When the established dog is present, keep the new dog confined, but able to see, smell, and hear the established dog so they can communicate. This will also give you a chance to observe their interactions to get an idea of how they are adjusting to each other’s presence.
6. Best Friends
Sherry Woodard is a canine behavior consultant. She’s written this informative blog about introducing two dogs to each other for BestFriends.org. She explains that verbal ques can be very beneficial during this process.
She says that it is important to let the dogs work together and feel each other out. Woodard cautions that you should not step in physically unless the dogs seem to be heading for conflict and are not responding to your verbal commands. You may also need to physically separate the dogs if they become too excited and cannot settle themselves.
- For the most part, dogs in this situation respond well to verbal feedback from humans. For example, if the dogs are getting too tense around each other, saying something in a soothing tone of voice (such as “It’s OK, guys, cool your jets”) can help them to take it down a notch, shake off and start fresh. If one dog is getting too overbearing and the other isn’t correcting her, we can often help out by saying something like “Hey, knock it off!” If the dogs do shake off their tension and engage with each other in polite, appropriate ways, we can reward them for those behaviors and encourage more of them by speaking in a happy tone (“Good dogs! Well done!”). In most cases, that kind of verbal guidance is all the interference they need from us.
7. 3 Lost Dogs
For an easy-to-read and silly post about adopting a second dog, you’ll want to check out this blog post from 3LostDogs. With a bit of added humor, this post really focuses on some of the key issues surrounding adopting a second dog.
The author reminds you that more dogs equal more work, more dogs are more expensive and an additional dog is also going to require more of your time. The most important thing noted in this blog is the importance of fixing any behavior issues with your current dog before adopting a second dog.
- “My dog drives me crazy. She barks and digs and destroys things. I’m hoping to get her a doggie playmate so she won’t do those things anymore.” This plan is like walking across a freeway blindfolded. Sure, there’s a chance the gods will smile upon you and you’ll escape unscathed. But really? You’re asking for trouble. With rare exceptions*, dogs don’t fix each other. They DO pick up on each other’s bad habits.
8. Natural Dog Blog
Lastly, I stumbled across this blog post on Neil Sattin’s Natural Dog Blog. I’m not sure that I agree with it, but it’s an interesting point of view. You can check out the post and see for yourself.
Neil’s blog is about the reasons why dog owners should NOT adopt a second dog. He is a dog trainer who clearly believes that in most cases dog owners should only have one dog. He actually makes some valid points. Make sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think.
- Most of the time, my multiple-dog clients come to me after they’ve already gotten another dog as they try to sort out an even more complicated dynamic than what they were experiencing as a one-dog house. If people ask me whether or not they SHOULD get another dog, my answer is generally an emphatic NO WAY.
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