If you look the homes of any of our board members or volunteers, chances are that we will have more than one dog in our household. Some of us have 2, while others have 3 or 4, and one of us has about 7 or 8! We really can’t help ourselves though, we just really love dogs, especially our beloved dachshunds! They bring such joy not only to us, but to each other and to other people.
We also know that you, as friends and adopters of the rescue, may be looking for a companion for your dog or dogs at home. While we are definitely excited to give you and your dogs another companion to bond with, we want to make sure that we let you know what all that entails. It’s not as easy as “Look Fido, a new friend!” and then then instantly like each other. Bringing another dog in is a process, and one that takes time and genuine care and understanding. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when bringing home another dog.
- Is your dog ready?
If you’re going to bring home another dog, you definitely want to make sure that the dog that you have is going to be ready for them as well. You want to make sure to look for behavioral concerns that might make bringing a new dog home difficult, such as separation anxiety, excessive barking, pulling on a leash, accidents in the house, and especially aggression towards other dogs and/or people. When you bring home another dog and your dog shows these concerns, it won’t be long before the new family member starts to pick up on them too! Dog behaviorists do recommend waiting at least a year after bringing your first dog home before bringing in the next one. This is because it takes about 6 months for a dog to adjust to its new surroundings, and another 6 months for some quality bonding and training time with the owner.
- Selecting the Right Dog
After you’ve determined and worked on the behavioral concerns, it is now time to select your next dog. Most people will select a dog from the same breed since they are more comfortable with knowing about the breed already, but there are people who will choose one that is different. Either way, you will want to look at the same characteristics. For instance, what is your dog’s current activity level? You will want to try and find one that has the same energy as your dog, otherwise things will not go well. You will not want your high energy pup to annoy your low energy senior!
Also, what gender does your dog work better with? Typically males work better with females and vice versa, but male paired with male and female with female work okay too if you give good structure and guidance. Another thing to consider is the size of your new dog. Will it be bigger or smaller, and by how much? We highly recommend finding a dog that is similar in size, otherwise if you pair something like a Great Dane with a Chihuahua the smaller dog can become seriously injured.
- Introducing the Dogs
After you have selected the pet that you would like to bring home, it is time to get them introduced! The best place to first introduce the dogs is somewhere neutral like a park so that your dog does not feel as threatened. Make sure that each of the has someone that is handling them and try to get them to be as calm as possible. If they are not calm you can always try taking them for a walk, but make sure that the dogs do not get too close to one another. Once they are calm, let them interact with one another and be mindful of body language. What you want to see is sniffing of the nose and the rear, but if there is any showing of teeth or other aggressive behavior, remove the dogs, correct the behavior, and reintroduce them again. When things are still calm, continue the interaction until they begin to play or your dog backs away without seeming to care about what the other dog is doing. This is when you will know that they are okay and ready to move in with one another!
- Tips for at the House
Now that you are at your home and both dogs have been introduced, there is still work that needs to be done. There are many tests that your dog will put your new dog through despite giving them the okay to come home. One thing to keep in mind is to never crate the dogs in the same place, even if you are present. Another thing that is really important is to make sure that you don’t just free-feed your dogs, but to have them eat at separate times and at separate locations in the house. Highly desired items, such as treats and raw hides, should be given individually and out of sight from the other dog. You will want to make sure that you have enough toys for both of your dogs to play with as well, and while playing you will want to be sure to watch their body language and correct any unwanted behavior. Finally, we also recommend giving each dog individualized attention each and every day. This can be done through walks, outings to the pet store, or going to the dog park.
After a few months of structure and correcting, your dogs should be able to distinguish that you are the alpha and that the other dog is not a threat. This will also allow for them to show you their true personalities and to respect one another as members of the “pack”!
For more tips on how to introduce your pet into your home, go to the website thebarkinglot.com and search “Introducing a Second Dog”. We hope that you find these tips useful and look forward to your next visit at The Long Dog Retreat!
Source: “How To Successfully Introduce A Second Dog Into Your Family“. The BarkingLot.com. 23 October 2012. Website.