Pet owners may assume it is better to have two dogs in the home but that may not always be the case. Today, the Natick vets explain some things you should consider before adding a second dog to your family.
Is It Better To Have Two Dogs?
Our Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital vets are asked by pet owners whether it is better to have one dog or two. Although the answer isn't entirely straightforward, the social nature of dogs means that they thrive in group environments. So, there can be advantages to adopting a second dog, such as:
- They can keep each other company
- Both dogs will be able to entertain each other and get exercise together
- Your older dog could help you train a new puppy
- When the dogs have each other, it can help ease separation anxiety
- You will have two adorable dogs to love
While it might be a good idea to get a second dog to give your first dog some company, this may not be an easy process at the start. Your first dog may not like having another dog around. Dogs are territorial and don't generally like sharing their home and toys.
Below, we discuss some factors you need to consider when getting a second dog and how you can make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.
Introducing a Second Dog to Your First Dog
Getting a second dog could make your first dog feel displaced and uncertain. While the majority of dogs will get along well with their new sibling, your first dog may not be happy having to share their toys, space, territory, or even their owner's affection. This makes it important to prepare and do your research when getting ready to bring home a second dog.
The Kind of Dog You Should Consider Getting
When getting another dog, it's important to determine which type of dog will be best for your current dog and your family's lifestyle. For this reason, you need to make sure you are doing more than just checking off a couple of mental boxes. You need to consider factors such as:
- What size of dog will work best for you and your family?
- Can your home fit a second dog?
- Will you have time to play with and care for another dog?
- What are the exercise needs of your old dog and a new dog?
- Can you afford to take care of a second dog?
- Will your current dog be able to interact with a puppy, or will an older calm dog be best?
By considering these points, you should be able to find a dog that will be a perfect addition to your family or determine if you are ready for a second dog.
Ways to Help Your Old Dog and New Dog Get Along
If you have decided that it's time to get a second dog, there are some measures you can implement to make the process easier for everyone and help your two dogs get along as well as possible.
Talk to Your Family First
Deciding to bring home a new dog should take time, and it's best to ask everyone in your home what they think on the subject and find out if it meets everyone's needs, including your dog's! Your current dog's age, physical ability, and personality should all be taken into account when determining if you want to bring home a new pet.
Don't Take Your Current Dog With You
We don't recommend bringing your current dog with you when you are going to pick out your new furry companion. Your dog may distract you when you are trying to make your choice and the car ride could become very intense.
Introduce Your Dogs on Neutral Grounds
When it's time for your two dogs to meet, bring them somewhere neutral to help prevent territorial aggression. You could have a friend or family member bring your current dog to a quiet park or green space, and you can meet them there with your new dog. If you already have more than one dog you will need some more help or be able to control them all on a leash.
Keep Your Dogs Under control
While keeping full control of the dogs, make sure you are holding them loose enough on their leash that they don't feel too hampered by it.
Let the Dogs Get to Know Each Other
When meeting, it's normal for dogs to circle and sniff each other. Keep this meeting positive by talking to them in a pleasant tone. Watch them for signs of aggression and intervene when you have to, by redirecting their attention. If the dogs start to growl or snarl, do your best not to scold them because this will just teach them to suppress their emotions when you are near. You want them to build a fair social hierarchy that is safe, even when you aren't there.
Are your dogs ignoring each other? This is fine, don't force them to interact because they will get to know each other when they are ready.
Bring Your Pups Home
You can bring your dogs home when they start acting positively with each other.
Keep in mind that the two dogs will form a hierarchy, where your first dog will typically take the position of alpha. For this reason, you should bring your current dog into the home first and have the person helping you walk your new dog on their leash. This allows your original dog to invite your new dog into their domain.
Limit Opportunities for Rivalry
Make sure each dog has their food dish, water bowl, and bed. After mealtimes, pick up the food bowls to reduce the risk of food aggression, however, you can leave the water bowls out.
Also remember to pick up your first dog's favorite toys and items, to limit conflict while the new relationship develops. Once you are certain the dogs are getting along, you may give them their favorite toys back.
Supervise & Manage Playtime
When you aren't home we highly recommend keeping both dogs separate from each other. When it comes time for them to play together you need to watch them closely. Don't forget to offer them lots of praise when they interact nicely with one another.
You must find time to spend quality one-on-one time with each dog every day so you can cement the personal bond you have with them
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.