Dog parents know there’s nothing quite like the unconditional love and adventure their canines bring into their lives. If one is that good, two must be better, right? After all, two dogs mean more snuggles, more companionship, and more socialization (for humans and dogs alike).
However, bringing another dog into the house is not always easy. While some dogs are perfectly content with other canines, others may not do well with the sudden intrusion. As much as pet parents might want another dog, there are a few things they’ll need to consider first.
Should I Get Another Dog? Things To Consider
A pet parent might dream of having a multiple dog household. No matter how tempting the image, though, they need to consider their current dog above everything else.
Reactions to Other Dogs
How does the dog react to other canines during walks or while at the park? If they don’t spend much time around other dogs, pet parents could arrange some meet and greets.
Dogs might react very differently when other dogs step into their space. Pet parents might ask a friend to bring their dog over to gauge their dog’s response and interactions. Do they become aggressive or act territorial? Monitor the interactions closely for any signs of potential trouble. Some dogs may need to start off with socialization training before considering bringing another dog into the home.
On the other hand, does the dog ignore the other dog, try to get away, or avoid engagement altogether? Some dogs prefer the company of humans over the company of other dogs.
Size and Energy Level
There’s a good chance small breeds like Chihuahuas or Pomeranians won’t be a good fit for a larger breed even if they are good with others. Pet parents should also consider their dog’s energy level. If the pet parent has a low-energy dog, a dog that requires substantial physical activity might not be an ideal addition to the home.
Time and Cost Investment
There is also time and money that comes with adding another dog to the house.
Plan for an increase in pet expenses such as:
- Food and treats
- Collars, leashes, crates, and carriers
- Vet bills
- Boarding costs
- Monthly flea & tick preventatives
Pet parents will also want to make sure that they have time to devote to each dog. The current dog shouldn’t be a “babysitter” for the new one. New puppies require training and patience, just like the first. Pet parents need to be sure they can provide each dog with sufficient quality time.
Introducing a Second Dog
Even after determining a second dog is a good idea, pet parents will still need to take things slow. Here are a few tips for a successful introduction.
Meet on Neutral Ground First
Pet parents should allow the two dogs to meet for the first time outdoors on neutral ground. Each person should walk a leashed dog at a distance from one another. The dogs should be able to see one another. When the dogs look at one another and don’t show any signs of aggression, the pet parents should reward them with treats and praise.
Watch Body Language
A dog’s body language can say a lot about how they’re feeling. Pet parents should watch for signs of aggression or defensiveness — such as bristling fur, stiff-legged gaits, growling, or intense staring — and interrupt them immediately by distracting the dog.
If the dogs are calm and appear comfortable, both pet parents can gradually start closing the distance between them.
Some dogs will become great friends partway through the walk, while others require more time. Pet parents need to have patience and avoid rushing the introduction.
Once Home, Monitor Closely
After bringing the new dog home, pet parents should continue monitoring. A sturdy baby gate can help keep the dogs separate but still allow them to see one another. Again, treats and praise for positive dog behavior are helpful.
Pet parents should also avoid leaving dog toys or other items around that the dogs might fight over and be aware of situations that might cause conflict (such as someone knocking on the door). Once pet parents are confident each dog is comfortable with the other, they can start leaving them alone together.
Take Introductions Slow and Put the Dog's Needs First
Another dog in the family can be a wonderful thing, but it can also cause undue stress or anxiety for the dog already there. No matter what the pet parents want, they should always put their current dog first. If they decide to introduce another one, they should remember to take things slow. Going at their dog’s pace can increase the chances of successfully adding a new member to the family.