How to Introduce a Second Dog
Introducing a second dog to your home requires a lot of thought. It means a complete change in your “normal” family routine. It matters not whether the new dog is a puppy or an adult.
There are many things to consider before you bring the new pet home.
It isn’t just a matter of bringing the new dog home and you all will live happily ever after (though that can be a remote possibility.)
You need to take time to think this new undertaking through and mull over these questions:
- Are you living on a tight budget? A second dog will require annual vet visits, will need food, toys, perhaps a new crate and possible training classes.
- A second dog requires “time.” Do you have extra time to play, for walks, time to groom your pet, time for feeding, training and extra clean up?
- Does your current dog have any behavioral problems? A
new dog might not be able to teach your old dog to stop misbehaving. You could end up with two dogs each with bad behaviors, making matters worse.
- Do you have the patience to adhere to “dog pack’ rules? Even though you are the LEADER, two dogs are a pack and one or the other will become the second leader. If it’s the new dog, can you adjust to following the rules? The leader dog gets to be “first” in all things and you cannot change that. Trying to change what is natural dog behavior will cause conflict and “big trouble.”
- Are you prepared for the resident dog to start misbehaving, such as using the house as a potty place, chewing things and just being destructive in general? The newcomer may upset your pet.
- Is your current dog friendly with other dogs and people? If your resident dog is a “bully,” your chances of finding a “friend” for him/her are slim. Training classes for your current dog maybe the answer before you plunge into getting another dog.
- How is the stress level in your household? Have you moved, added a new family member or has anything else happened to upset the normal routine of the household? Dogs stress out during changes in their routine. Times of stress are not a good time to bring home a new dog.
- Are you happy with your dog right now? A second dog could bring changes in your dog’s personality. The two dogs could really bond and might prefer being together, ignoring you, except for food and treats. Are you ready to accept that?
Read these questions a few times and answer them truthfully. Being truthful will help eliminate your making a mistake.
Some dogs really don’t want a “companion,” they are as happy as a clam being the “only dog.”
The real question here is “is it you that wants a new dog?”
Once you have made up your mind and truly feel that another dog will be an added benefit to your household. There are a few more things to consider such as: puppy, young adult or an older dog. That will depend on your resident dog.
Puppies are probably easier to introduce to your current dog, as a puppy doesn’t appear as an intruder, only as a pest.
If you decide on a puppy, please keep this in mind. Puppies do not realize they are supposed to behave in a certain way until they are about 4 months old.
Until they are old enough to know all this “dog stuff” it will be up to you to protect the puppy from the older dog and protect the older dog from the puppy.
The puppy will drive the older dog crazy at times. Puppies want to play; older dogs will play for a little while, then want to stop.
It is up to you to give your older pet, free time away from “fluff and stuff.”
Do not under any circumstances leave the puppy and older dog alone without supervision.
Always put the puppy in its crate or put your resident dog in a safe room if you are leaving the house or cannot supervise.
The older dog could unintentionally injure the puppy if the puppy pesters the older dog too much.
Adding a young adult dog or an older dog to your household requires a lot more tact along with patience and planning. You are going to need help with this one.
Step number one; the dogs will have to meet on neutral ground. To do this you will need help of a friend or a relative (not a member of your household.)
The dogs need to meet in a place your dog has never been, that will be the neutral territory. It can be a park, a neighbor’s yard, or if all else fails a parking lot.
Both dogs need to be on a leash and introduced casually. Allow them to do all the “doggy things,” such as smelling each other, their stance may be rigid, but for the first meeting that is okay. However, if you hear growling or see lip curling, calmly move them apart.
Remain calm and do not be nervous, talk to the dogs in a “happy voice.”
After a few minutes try to introduce them again, but do not let them get too close together.
If the growling and lip curling happens again it is a good bet that these two will not ever be friends.
Whatever you do, do not try to force a friendship. You will only be looking for a great deal of trouble when you get them home.
Dogs will fight and if they do not like each other it can be disastrous for you and the dogs.
In looking for a new dog (not a puppy) try to find a dog whose personality matches that of your dog. If your dog is outgoing and friendly, find one that is equally so. If your dog is quiet and gentle, do not bring home a dog that is very active and playful, the match more than likely will not work.
Female dogs that have been the only dog in the house seem to have a harder time adjusting to a new “friend.”
Dogs that have been socialized and get along well with other dogs have an easier time relating to a new dog in the household.
One of the first rules in raising a puppy is “socialize, socialize and socialize” some more. If you have followed that rule, adding a new dog should be easier.
Once the introductions have been made and it is time to bring the two dogs home, a good suggestion is “do not bring them home together” in the same car. Let the person who helped you with the introduction bring the new dog home.
It is a suggested procedure that when you have both dogs at home you keep their leashes on them. It will be easier for you to keep control if you need to, by having a leash to grab on to.
If the new dog is close in age to your resident dog there is bound to be a bit of aggression going on.
You now have a “pack,” and it will be necessary for the two dogs to decide which one is going to be second in charge (you are the real leader) and this decision may take some haggling.
Acceptable aggressive behavior should last for a few seconds (10 -–20 seconds) and may consist of some growling, lip curling, snarling, snapping and possibly pinning one of the dogs down by the neck.
Unacceptable aggressive behavior would be biting to draw blood or any of the above behaviors that last more than a few seconds.
One of the dogs may exhibit submissive behavior and this is to be expected also. Barking like a puppy, rolling over on its back, tail between its legs, running away from the other dog are all acceptable submissive behaviors.
It may take the dogs a week or two to settle on who is the leader and while that is going on DO NOT let them alone together unsupervised.
Put the dogs in separate areas or in their crates, do not let them be together until you are certain they have settled their ranking and will get along.
The hardest thing for you will be following their decision especially if your first dog is no longer the "number one."
The important thing here is that you abide by their decision no matter how hard it will be for you.
The number one dog gets the first treats, is first out the door, is first to be fed and so on.
Speaking of feeding, give each dog their own bowls and their own eating spot, do not let one steal food from the other.
Expect your first dog to go through some stress and probably some misbehavior patterns as this new addition will be upsetting to it and the dog will need to adjust.
It is up to you to expect these problems and act accordingly. Remember your dog did not ask for a new friend. It was YOUR idea. As the old saying goes “you made your bed now lie in it.”
It may take a month or more for a routine to establish and peace to rein supreme once again in your household. If you keep the dogs apart when you are not home to supervise and you make the time they spend together “fun” they will soon become friends, maybe not “best friends,” but close enough to enjoy being together.
Do not forget that you are the LEADER, the boss supreme, and you run the show, and both dogs need to follow your orders first.
Do not beat, hit or otherwise use force to make a point, be patient, stern if necessary and most of all CONSISTENT in what you are asking of the dogs.
One last point: Exercise is the secret to keeping your dogs too tired to argue with each other. Exercise relieves their stress (and maybe yours. too) and tired dogs behave better.
Good luck and remember to have FUN.