Bringing home a second dog

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Thinking about adding another dog to your household? Here’s what you should keep in mind.

1.  Think carefully about whether or not you have the time, space, resources and energy for another dog. It won’t necessarily be easier the second time around, plus you’ll have extra vet bills, higher food costs, and you’ll have to devote twice as much time to your dogs to give them both the individual attention they need.

2.  If you’re already sure you want another dog in your life, choose the breed and sex carefully. Two aggressive male dogs could tear each other to shreds, as could two female dogs. A large dog could injure a smaller one, and an aggressive newcomer could force your first dog into submission. Choosing a breed and sex that matches your family’s needs is important, so be sure to consult with an expert.

3.  Make sure your dog is dog-friendly. If your pup hasn’t been exposed to strange dogs in its life, stage an experiment at the dog park or in a fellow dog owner’s backyard to see if your dog has the potential to welcome another dog as a friend. If you already know your dog is laid-back and friendly, you’re good to go.

4.  Pay attention to timing. Getting two dogs at once is almost never a good idea because it can compromise training and one-on-one time for you and your dogs. It’s usually best to wait at least two years after your first dog to get a second one. Also be careful when bringing a puppy into your home with an adult dog; although many dogs are protective of young, others may injure or kill the puppy. And, once that puppy smell wears off, the older dog could develop aggression toward this new full-grown threat.

5.  Introduce your dogs carefully. Let your dogs meet each other outside the home in a place where neither will be territorial – a dog park or a fenced-in backyard are good options. Once the dogs seem friendly enough to bring inside, make sure you’ve removed all items your first dog could become territorial over (food bowls, favorite toys, bedding) to avoid confrontation. Always supervise the dogs when they’re playing together, and separate them when you’re away, until you’re sure they’re friends.

6.  Give your dogs individual attention, no matter how great of friends they are. It may seem that your dogs are inseparable – which is ideal, of course! – but they still need one-on-one time with you. Not only do you want to form a special bond with each dog where they can be free of competition with their canine cohort, but you also want to make sure both dogs are bonded primarily with you and not with each other. Their bond to each other should be strong, but not as strong as their bond to you. Make sure you have individual time with each dog both inside and outside the home, for playtime, walks, and a good petting session.

Want more information? Check out these articles on bringing home a second dog from VeterinaryPartner.comDogTime and The Bark.

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