Two dogs are better than one?

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April 16, 2010
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Does your dog love to meet other dogs on the street, or in the park? Does your dog cry sometimes if it sees another dog pass by? Your dog may benefit from having a friend in the house.

Before you get a second dog there are a few questions you need to think about:

1: Is your dog sociable with other dogs?

2: Are there any behavior problems that you dog has that you think another dog may help “cure?” It’s more likely the new dog may adopt the same behavior.

3: Are you trying to cut down on the time you spend with your dog and get him a buddy? The reality is, another dog, means more quality time with each dog and that means more time, not less dedicated to your pets.

4: Can you afford another dog? Food, vet, toys, grooming will double in price.

5: Are you ready to do some basic training and reinforce training with your current dog? A new dog needs to learn your routine, the vibe of the house, and may not know some basic commands. Your current dog may “unlearn” commands or learn new bad habits from the new dog.

6: Are you emotionally ready for a second dog? Your time will be spent with your dogs more than before. You may not be able to spend quality time with two dogs. It can become tiring and frustrating as the dogs adjust, and that can cause tension and stress.

7: Are you ready to handle the ups and downs? No one is perfect, not even a dog. There will be tough days and awesome days.

Once you have found a good match for your family there are some tips you can try to make sure the adjustment period goes smoothly. Expect some jealousy and do your best to spend quality time with your first dog as well as establishing a pack order. Feed your first dog first in the same bowls you have always used, make sure you have individual food bowls, beds, and always give treats to your first dog before the second dog.

Try to not force them to share toys or even physical space. Dogs tend to be territorial and let them work out what toys or bedding they will be ok sharing. Dogs are creatures of habit and will eventually welcome change but it takes time. There will be some small scuffles or growly matches. It won’t always be a big fight and judging when to step in can be hard to figure out. Dogs will establish a pecking order and will live with each other just takes time.

Here are five tips that can help with the transitional stages:

1: Buy a crate for the new dog. This allows your dogs time alone and away from each other. It will help reduce tension and allow your first dog to become familiar with the smells, body language, and vibe of the new dog.

2: When you introduce the new dog, do what you can to not favor it. It’s hard not to because it’s exciting and fun but take time to let your first dog know that he’s still special.

3: Take your first dog out for a walk alone for the first few weeks. This lets your dog know that you are still there for him and the routine has not changed. Make sure you interact and praise him when he does something good. Eventually take both dogs out for walks. This is also good individual time with both dogs and great exercise for you!

4: Your first dog deserves the respect he’s earned in the years he’s been in the house. Treats, food, and even tasks such as getting in the car, having a leash put on, and being called to “come” should be done in pack order. Keeping a pack order keeps dogs from being confused, stressed, and helps everyone understand their role in the house.

5: Reinforce commands and training with your first dog as well as train your new dog. This will help your new dog understand the routines as well. Dogs learn from each other as well as from you. You don’t want your new dog teaching your old dog bad habits.

Dogs are pack animals and view the world differently than we do. To them, an order of a leader and group is important. It helps them understand where they fall in line, what is expected of them, and who they should listen to. Sometimes adding a second dog can bring out personality traits in your first dog that you didn’t know existed. Some shy dogs may come out of their shell, some may become extremely playful, and others may just seem happier, and your whole house can become livelier.

If you add a second dog, make sure it’s a good match in terms of energy level, age, and size. Don’t be surprised if your dogs become bonded to each other. Don’t be surprised if they never become bonded with each other. Some dogs will just hang out with each other and for them, that’s enough.

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