Adding a new dog to your family is an exciting time, but if you already have a dog you may be concerned about how it will react to the new addition. Today, our Goleta Airport Pet Hospital vets will explain the benefits and possible risks of getting a second dog.
What Kind Of Dog Should You Get?
When choosing a new dog to add to your family, you need to consider a few different things including:
- Do you have enough space for multiple pets
- Is your current dog large or small
- Do you want a large or small dog
- Do you have time to walk, feed, and care for a second dog
- Can you afford a second dog
- Is your current dog physically able to interact with a new dog
- Have either of the dogs interacted with another dog before
Benefits of Getting a Second Dog
- They’ll keep each other entertained and exercised -- By adding a second dog to the mix you’ll still have to spend some one-on-one time with each dog every day—it’s super important for their socialization and development—but they can keep each other exercised and entertained.
- Makes puppy training easier -- Dogs are pack animals and look to their pack leader for guidance, a role your older dog will naturally take on when you introduce a puppy to the family.
- Helps with separation anxiety -- Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety or feelings of intense anxiety that occur when they’re left alone, so having a second dog would be helpful and gives your dog some extra comfort when you are not around.
- Save a second life -- If you plan on adopting your new dog, one of the best reasons to get a second dog is to save a life.
- Doesn't cost that much more -- owning a second dog does not mean the cost will double. Aside from regular immunizations and check-ups, having two dogs at the same time doesn’t cost much more than having one.
- Extra love -- dogs bring so much love into a home and adding a second one could double that love.
What Can You Do To Help The Old And The New Dogs Get Along?
The goal of adding a new pet is to have one, big happy family. That means everyone should get along – humans, present dogs, and future dogs.
Here are a few tips to foster a good relationship between the old and the new dogs:
- Survey your family. Consider the needs of the entire family before picking out a new pet. Think about the current dog’s age, physical status, and personality while deciding on a new family member.
- Leave your current dog home! There is no need to take your current dog along when you pick out a new dog. You do not want to be distracted when choosing a new pet. Plus, think about the tense ride home!
- Introduce the two dogs on neutral ground. To avoid territorial aggression, introduce the dogs to a place that is new to both. Have a friend or family member bring the current dog to a quiet park or green space while you bring along the new dog. Take each dog on a short walk and meet at a designated spot. If you have multiple dogs already, you will need to engage additional help or be able to control more than one dog on a leash.
- Keep the dogs under control. Place each dog on a loose leash or head halter for the introduction. They should not feel overly hampered by the leash, but both individuals should have firm control of their dog.
- Allow the dogs to investigate each other. It is normal for two dogs to circle and sniff each other when meeting. They may start by sniffing rear ends and progress to making eye contact. Keep the introduction positive by speaking to the dogs in a pleasant tone of voice. Observe their body language and posture to pick up on signs of aggression and intervene as needed by redirecting the dogs’ attention. Avoid scolding the dogs if they snarl or growl. This will only suppress their emotions when you are around. The goal is to have the dogs establish a safe, fair social hierarchy that will be harmonious even when you are not with them. If the dogs ignore each other, do not force them to interact. They will get to know each other when they feel comfortable.
- Take the dogs home. Once the dogs tolerate each other and interact positively, you may take them home. Remember that the two dogs will establish a hierarchy, usually with the present dog assuming the alpha position. When you get home, go inside with your original dog first while your helper walks the new dog on a leash, allowing the resident dog to “invite” the new dog into his domain.
- Reduce rivalry. Provide each dog with his food and water bowls and bed. Leave water bowls out continuously, but pick up food bowls after meal times to minimize food aggression. Also, pick up your present dog’s favorite items to avoid conflict while the new relationship is established. Return the toys along with new ones for the new dog once you are sure the two dogs are getting along.
- Supervise playtime. Keep the dogs separate when you are not at home. Closely supervise them when they play together and praise them when they interact nicely. Spend one-on-one time with them to cement personal bonds.