Should You Have More Than One Dog?
Our Medford vets are often asked by concerned pet owners whether it would be better to have two dogs. The answer to this question is more complex than one might think, but the social nature of dogs suggests that they thrive in group environments. So, there can be advantages to adopting a second dog, such as:
- They can keep each other company while you are away
- Both dogs will be able to entertain each other and get exercise together
- Your older dog could help you train a new puppy
- When the dogs have each other, it can help ease separation anxiety
- You will have two adorable dogs to love
While it might be a good idea to get a second dog to give your first dog some company, this may not be an easy process at the start. Your first dog might not like having to share their environment or toys. Below, we discuss some factors you need to consider when getting a second dog and how you can make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.
Introduce a New Dog
Adding a second dog to your home could make your first dog feel displaced and uneasy. While most dogs can get along well when adding new siblings to the home, your first dog might nit be thrilled about sharing their toys, space, territory, or even their owner's affection. This makes it important to prepare and do your research when getting ready to bring home a second dog.
The Kind of Dog You Should Consider Getting
When getting another pup, it's important to determine which type of dog will be best for your current dog and your family's lifestyle. For this reason, you need to make sure you are doing more than just checking off a couple of mental boxes. You need to consider factors such as:
- What size of dog will work best for you and your family?
- Can your home accommodate a second dog?
- Will you have enough time to play with and care for both dogs?
- What are the exercise needs of your old dog and new dog? Will they be different?
- Can you afford the cost of a second dog?
- Will your current dog be able to interact with a puppy, or will an older more calm dog be best?
By taking these points into consideration, you should be able to find a dog that will be a perfect addition to your family or determine if you are ready for a second dog.
Tips To Help Your Dogs Get Along
If you have decided that it's time to get a second dog, there are some measures you can implement to make the process easier for everyone and help your two dogs get along as well as possible.
Talk to Your Family First
Deciding to bring home a new dog should take time, and it's best to ask everyone in your home what they think on the subject and find out if it meets everyone's needs, including your dog's! Your current dog's age, physical ability, and personality should all be taken into account when determining if you want to bring home a new pet.
Don't Take Your Current Dog With You
We don't recommend bringing your current dog with you when you are going to pick out your new furry companion. Your dog may distract you when you are trying to make your choice and the car ride could become very intense.
Introduce Your Dogs on Neutral Grounds
When it's time for your two dogs to meet, bring them somewhere neutral to help prevent territorial aggression. You could have a friend or family member bring your current pooch to a quiet park or green space, and you can meet them there with your new pup. If you already have more than one dog you will need some more help or be able to control them all on a leash.
Keep Your Dogs Under Control
While keeping full control of the dogs, make sure you are holding them loose enough on their leash that they don't feel too hampered by it.
Let the Dogs Get to Know Each Other
When meeting, it's normal for dogs to circle and sniff each other. Keep this meeting positive by talking to them in a tone that is pleasant. Watch them for signs of aggression and intervene when you have to, by redirecting their attention. If the dogs start to growl or snarl, do your best not to scold because this will just teach them to suppress their emotions when you are near. You want them to build a fair social hierarchy that is safe, even when you aren't there.
Are your dogs ignoring each other? This is fine, don't force them to interact because they will get to know each other when they are ready.
Bring Your Pups Home
You can bring your dogs home when they start acting positively with each other.
Keep in mind that the two dogs will form a hierarchy, where your first dog will typically take the position of alpha. For this reason, you should bring your current dog into the home first and have the person helping you walk your new dog on their leash. This gives your original dog the opportunity to invite your new pup into their domain.
Limit Opportunities for Rivalry
Make sure each dog has their own food dish, water bowl, and bed. After mealtimes, pick up the food bowls to reduce the risk of food aggression, however, you can leave the water bowls out.
Also remember to pick up your first dog's favorite toys and items, to limit conflict while the new relationship develops. Once you are certain the dogs are getting along, you may give them their favorite toys back.
Supervise & Manage Playtime
For the first little while at least, we recommend keeping the dogs separated from each other when you are not home. When it comes to play time, they need to be monitored closely. Make sure to give them lots of praise when they interact well with each other.
It's imperative that you find time to spend quality one-on-one time with each dog every day so you can cement the personal bond you have with them
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.