Wednesday, February 10, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
When my first dog became a senior citizen, I knew I didn’t want to live without a dog so I began looking for a second dog to introduce into my household. I thought my first dog would be able to help me teach the new dog and that it would be good company for him, since I worked all day. My friends with multiple dogs assured me that owning two was no harder than owning one. I did some research before I got my second dog though, and learned that while it can be a rewarding experience there are a few guidelines to follow to make it as easy as possible for all concerned.
The first thing to consider is the gender of the dog you are going to get. If you have a female already, it’s better to get a male and if you have a male, try to get a female. Two dogs of the same gender in one household will have more dominance issues than a pair of the opposite sex. Even if you think that a mother/daughter combination might work, chances are it won’t.
There is a theory that if a new dog of a same sex is neutered or spayed before it arrives in your home, you may have fewer dominance issues. However, if the new dog is not altered before six to eight months of age you will probably still have dominance issues in a same gender household. The dogs will get along better if they are of opposite sexes. It’s also a good idea to visit a potential new dog in their current surroundings to see how they interact with other dogs they live with. Even if the dog is in a shelter, you can usually tell if they have dominance issues by the way they treat the dogs around them.
The age of your dog should be considered if you already have a puppy and are considering another puppy. Two puppies will bond with each other and will be harder to train when they have each other to play with. If you have an older dog, consider getting a younger dog; if you have a puppy consider getting a dog that is at least a young adult. If you are adopting an older dog, it will hopefully be well trained and can help you train the younger dog.
It is important to introduce the dogs to each other on neutral territory before you bring them home. You can judge their personalities and interactions and see if they would get along together on a daily basis. If you are getting a dog from a breeder, ask them if they can bring the new dog somewhere off the kennel property to meet your dog. If the potential new dog is on its own turf, it may feel dominance over your original dog, and you don’t want to give either dog an advantage. If they are both on unfamiliar ground you are apt to get a better sense of how they will do together.
You should have separate supplies for each dog: food and water bowls, leashes, collars, toys, crates, and beds. You shouldn’t make your new dog eat or drink out of the same bowls that you use for your original dog. You will only create undue friction between them, which may lead to dog fights. Dogs are pack animals, and when living together they will determine their own pack order. You can help maintain the pack hierarchy by feeding or giving treats first to the dog that displays dominance, even if this turns out to be the new dog.
Make sure your first dog gets adequate attention and let them know they are no less important even though they are now sharing their house and you with a new dog. Sometimes when we bring a new dog home the original dog may feel left out. By giving your original dog the same amount of attention and play time that you did before, you will help them accept the new dog faster and not feel left out. You want both dogs to like being with each other and feel comfortable when they are together. When your two dogs are being friendly to each other and playing well together; make sure you speak to them in a happy, positive, upbeat manner. This will help them adjust to each other as well and want to be with each other and you.
You may experience a few squabbles between them from time to time and there will be a period of adjustment. As the past owner of several dog pair combinations, I can tell you that it will be well worth the effort you put into it, and the lives of you and your family will only be enriched in the process.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently