Every dog owner, at some point, toys with the idea of adding another dog to the pack. There are so many positive reasons to add to the family; the more the merrier, companionship for the first dog. Plus, it is always interesting adding a new dynamic, a new personality to an established unit. However, there are many factors to consider before a decision is made. Most multiple dog owners are surprised that bringing in another dog isn’t as easy as originally thought. In addition to doubling the love, attention and affection they knew was coming with a second dog, there is also a doubling of monetary items such as food, vet and training bills.
Get the top dog’s approval, the dog who currently resides in the family. It is important to know what her dog tolerance is. She may be okay with dogs at the dog park, or in daycare, but how is she with dogs visiting her territory? Before going further, schedule a couple of play dates in the home, with dogs she likes. Makes sure she’s on board with another dog, before stressing her out with a new addition.
The Hunt Begins
Now that the entire pack is on board, explore the options. Find a companion that fits the packs lifestyle. If the family’s idea of fun is sitting around, watching TV, a low energy dog may be more suitable. Take shelter suggestions into consideration. If the dog in question is listed as energetic, and the pack isn’t into exercise, move on to the next cute face. Most shelters and rescues take the time to get to know their charges; they want to find permanent homes for the dogs.
Once the field has been narrowed, a finalist has been determined; it’s time to introduce the two. If going through a shelter or rescue introductions are required before adoptions are finalized. No matter where the new dog was found, an introduction on neutral territory should be done before any decision is made. Allow the dogs to sniff and interact. If the top dog seems to grumble and grouse, let her. She’s letting the other dog know his place. Unless a fight breaks out, let them work out the pecking order on their own.
Bring Them Home
Pulling into the drive, the owner should take both dogs on a walk around the block, before entering the home. This gives the new dog a chance to sniff his new neighborhood and the top dog to get used to her new companion. Always take a new dog on leashed tour of the home. Show him where the door is to go outside, where he will be sleeping, etc… This is the time to establish boundaries with the new dog and remind the top dog who the leader of the pack actually is.
There is always an adjustment period in even the best of situations. Generally it takes a month or so to work into a new rhythm and routine. If problems continue after a month, consult a professional, experienced trainer. A trainer should be able to offer training exercises to help most behavioral issues.
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