Bringing Home a Second Dog
Bringing home a second dog is an exciting decision for both you and your new furry best friend. There's some preparation you need to do to make sure you and your other dog are ready for the big change, such as making sure their personalities match and having a meet-up before move-in day. Here's how to prepare the perfect homecoming for your second dog.
Consider the Dogs' Personalities
Before you bring home a second dog, consider your current dog's personality and if he'd be a good match for an adopted friend.1 Is your current dog jealous when other dogs pay attention to you? Does he growl at new dogs, or is he friendly and warms up to them pretty quickly? If your current dog loves puppy play dates, then he's likely a good candidate for a new brother or sister.
Some say two male dogs are more likely to have problems, but it really depends on the individual dogs themselves. If you can, get to know the new dog's personality. Ask the shelter or veterinarian about the dog's quirks, unique health needs, and energy level. Try to find a personality that's a close match to your current pup. Two dogs with similar energy levels and sizes might get along better than a super lazy Great Dane and very energetic Toy Poodle.
If it's possible, try to arrange a time for the dogs to meet before your adoption decision is made.2 Keep them on loose leashes since tight leashes can increase stress. Walk them together and observe their interactions. A good introduction includes sniffing, wagging tails, loose bodies, and bouncy movements like they want to play. If they growl and have stiff bodies, they might not get along well. If one seems worried, pulls away, or keeps his tail near his body and his ears flat, that could be a sign of fear. Stressed, angry, or fearful dogs might not get along so well in the home.
Their First Day Together Should be on Neutral Ground
It's best to let your two dogs meet on neutral ground before bringing the new dog into your home for the first time. Start by introducing them to each other on "move-in" day in another area away from the house. Going on a walk together can be a great idea. Then move to the front or back yard before going inside.3
Give the dogs lots of treats while they're spending time together and praise them. If your dogs simply can't meet in a neutral territory or yard first, you should keep one in a crate for the introduction and then alternate which one stays in the crate as they get to know each other. This lets them visit in a non-threatening way.
If your dogs had a yard meeting first, keep the new dog on his leash when you first go into the home. Let him explore every room and observe his interactions with your other dog. Typically, you shouldn't leave the dogs unsupervised for at least one or two weeks, until they have established habits and clearly get along.4
Give Your Dogs Plenty of Personal Space
Each of your dogs will need a place to go where he won't be hounded by the other. A crate with a comfy pad is great for this. People with larger homes might even designate a "room" or a gated section of the house for each dog. Keep a snuggly bed in each dog's room, such as a Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper or a Coolin' Comfort Bed for dogs with aches and pains.
Personal space goes beyond crates and beds. Don't feed your dogs out of the same bowl. Tensions can escalate if dogs are forced to share territory and property. Train your new dog from the start to know which food and water bowls are his, and keep those separated from your first dog's bowls. Consider giving each dog a filtered water bowl for his health. Also, make sure there are enough toys so your dogs don't have to share. Stock up on chew toys, fun tennis balls, and ring toys for playtime.
Stop Jealous Behavior
Of course, you need to pay a lot of attention to your second dog since he's adjusting to a new environment. But don't ignore your first dog either, as this could breed feelings of jealousy. Continue to give your first dog lots of attention, keep your traditions going, and make sure he stays "first," such as at mealtimes. Try to maintain the same schedule for walks, feeding, and playtime.
Each dog should have alone time with you, but you also want to help the two dogs make positive associations with each other. This means taking them on walks together and playing with them in the backyard together. Give them treats and help them learn that having the other dog around means good things will happen.
There will always be a bit of an adjustment period when you bring home a second dog. You can help make the process smoother by matching their personalities, introducing them in neutral territory, and making sure each has his own personal space in the home. With patience, love, and lots of fun outings together, you'll form a new bond as one big, happy family—making memories that last a lifetime.
- Becker, Karen. "Want Another Dog? Make Sure You Can Say Yes to These 5 Questions." HealthyPets.Mercola.com, 28 March 2018, https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/03/28/bringing-home-second-dog.aspx.
- Hawn, Roxanne. "Adding Another Dog to Your Home." Pets.WebMD.com, 7 September 2010, https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/adding-another-dog-to-your-home#1.
- Santo, Kathy. "When Should You Get a Second Dog?" AKC, 13 April 2016, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/when-should-you-get-a-second-dog/.