You’ve been carefully considering whether or not you should adopt a second dog and finally decided to go for it. Everyone in your house is on board with the decision, your dog would love to have a friend and you have the financial ability to support doubling down on the costs of owning a dog. But the next step is not to bring home a second dog out of the blue. There are some things you need to do in order to ensure the successful onboarding of a new furry family member and avoid problems down the road. In this post, you’ll find out how you can set yourself, your family, and your new dog up for success.
1. Find a good match for your first dog
Like humans, some dogs are going to get along better than others, even if your dog is extremely friendly. That’s why it’s important to dedicate some time to find a good match for your dog’s personality. Although every dog is an individual, there are some things that you should consider to increase the chances of them getting along such as their gender, size, and personality traits.
Of course, it’s possible for two dogs of the same gender to get along fine but the odds are better when you choose to adopt a dog from the opposite gender to avoid any rivalries. When it comes to their size, you might want to choose to adopt a second dog that is similar in size to your current dog. This avoids any injuries and accidents during playtime.
Finally, and most importantly, the main thing you need to consider is their personality traits. For example, if your current dog tends to be dominant, you should avoid adopting a second one with the same character as this will only cause problems. On the other hand, if your first dog is anxious then adopting a second dog that is more confident is a better idea and might be a good help for your current dog. However, don’t assume that you can read your second dog at first sight as dogs can take some time to adapt to a new setting and show their personality. The best way to test this is by following the next step.
2. Let them meet on neutral ground
Before committing to adopting a dog, you need to test how well they get along. To do that you’ll need to arrange a meet-and-greet between both dogs in a place where none of them have been before, on neutral territory. You can take them both on a walk, ensuring they’re both on a leash so you can have control over them in case things go south. Start walking them at a distance and pay close attention to their body language.
If they seem relaxed, you can slowly get them closer and remember to reward positive behavior with treats. Don’t force any interactions and, if they’re not showing any signs of aggression, you can allow them to circle and sniff each other. Keep the meeting on a positive note and avoid scolding them. The main goal is to make both dogs feel relaxed and safe around each other.
Ideally, you should try to do this a few times throughout the week before taking the second dog home. If this isn’t possible for you, at least one meeting is mandatory. If they seem to immediately have a good relationship with each other, you might not need a lot of meetings. However, if they can’t seem to get along at all, that’s a clear sign their personalities aren’t a match and it’s best to look for another dog that might be a better match.
3. Bringing the new dog home for the first time
It’s important to be cautious when bringing your second dog home, even if the meet-and-greet went better than expected. Don’t forget that your dog sees your house as its territory and there’s a possibility that your dog won’t find it funny to have another dog in there at first. Don’t let the new dog run loose around the house as you still need to learn about how they behave indoors. You should also create some separation between both dogs in the first 24 to 48 hours to avoid any problems while they get used to each other’s scent.
To reduce any rivalry, it’s important that each dog has their own water and food bowls, bed, and toys. Don’t assume they’ll be happy with sharing right off the bat. To avoid conflict, pick up both dogs’ food bowls after mealtimes and your first dog’s favorite toys in the first days. Then you can return them along with toys for the new dog as well once you see everything seems to be calm. Remember that these first days will be incredibly stressful for both dogs but especially for the new one. Moving into a new home is a substantial change that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
4. Getting through the first couple of weeks
The number of precautions you need to take during the first weeks will depend a lot on how your dogs get along. It’s always important to constantly supervise their interactions in the first week or two. If during those two weeks they seem to love each other’s company, then you’re good to go and can start relaxing. However, if you notice at times your dogs are still unsure about each other then it’s important to keep separating them and rewarding any positive behavior. You can create this separation using baby gates or letting them sleep and feeding them in separate rooms whenever you’re not around or when they need a break from each other.
During this stage, it’s crucial that you always take them both on walks at the same time. This will be a tremendous help in getting them used to each other’s company and making them feel part of the same pack. Also, giving them enough exercise is the best way to make sure they stay out of trouble.
5. Your first dog shouldn’t feel neglected
Regardless of how the entire process goes, during and after you bring home a second dog make sure your first dog doesn’t feel neglected. Keep spending quality time with it and avoid taking only your second dog on adventures. Always include both. Sometimes your first dog may need a bit of extra attention and reassurance, which can also help your second dog have more space and settle in. Rewarding your first dog for good behavior throughout the process can help avoid conflicts.
Making sense of it all
Adopting another dog is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly and there are a lot of precautions you need to take before you bring home a second dog to make sure everything goes smoothly. But although it can be stressful at first, it’s also rewarding. So, to reap those rewards, be patient and work on this transition with the help of your family.