April is Active Dog Month
The month of April is Active Dog Month. This month-long…
The saying “less is more” doesn’t resonate with many dog lovers. Once we’ve experienced the joy of rescuing and caring for one dog, it’s really just a matter of time before we’re ready to open our hearts to another.
While the opportunity to offer a loving home to a cuddly pet is tough to pass up, it’s also important to consider many different factors to be sure you’re bringing home the best match for your family and other pets.
Remember, adding a second dog to the family means your pet care costs will double for everything from food to vet bills to doggy daycare. Take the time to consider how this increased expense will affect your lifestyle. Will it mean less money goes into your vacation budget? Are you okay with that?
If your existing dog has behavioral problems that you’re still trying to work through, it may not be the ideal time to add another member to the pack. Introducing a second dog can complicate your training regimen with your first pup, and may even heighten some of the behavioral issues you’re working to correct. Before getting a second pet make sure your first dog is well adjusted to life with you, and, most importantly, is friendly with other dogs!
You should think about whether you have space not just in your home, but in your vehicle, for a second pet. Will the whole family fit comfortably in your car for weekend road trips or will you need to upgrade your vehicle? What’s more, do you have room in your home? The last thing you want is for the space to feel cramped.
An additional dog also requires an additional time commitment, especially in the beginning. Sure, it’s possible that you’ll bring a new pup home and your existing dog will fall in love and they’ll romp off into the sunset together… but it’s more likely that there will be a lengthy adjustment period before the dogs feel completely comfortable. You should be prepared to devote extra time to both pups, individually and together, to help them adjust to the change.
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of getting a second dog it’s time to find the perfect pup. Not only do you need to find a dog who will fit your lifestyle but one that fits your existing dog’s lifestyle as well.
Consider your current dog’s personality. If he’s young and energetic a senior dog may not have the patience to play with him. At the same time, two young male pups may not get along, despite having the same energy level. Instead of being a common ground, it can create conflict as they compete to be top dog.
Some experts suggest that it’s best to mix and match when choosing a second dog. Sometimes having dogs of different genders, and ages can be easier to manage. It can also be beneficial to pair dogs of two different sizes! Of course, pairing two dogs that are on WAY opposite ends of the spectrum could be a challenge.
If your existing dog is a young male, a young female could be a good match for him! Similarly, if your existing dog is friendly but timid, bringing home a calm, confident pup could help him come out of his shell a little.
When looking for your new dog, be sure to ask shelter staff, breeders, or a dog trainer for assistance in finding the perfect match!
Once you’ve narrowed your dog search down to an adoption candidate it’s a good idea to introduce your current dog to his potential new companion to see how they get along.
The ideal meeting takes place on neutral ground, say, at a park. Have a friend or dog trainer assist you by handling the new dog while you handle your dog.
Keep both dogs on-leash so you can control them if need be. Don’t force the pups together right away. Give them space to sniff and adjust to the presence of the other, and then slowly bring them closer together so they can say hello.
Take things slow, and see how they react to one another. Watch their body language so you’ll know if you need to intervene. Taking the dogs for a walk together can be a great way to break the ice. This way, they’ve each got their own handler and their focus will be shifted from one another to the activity of walking.
If the walk goes well, consider letting them play together in an enclosed space, like a dog park, or your backyard. If they hit it off, you might be bringing home a new dog!
The journey doesn’t end with adopting a second dog, in fact, it’s really just beginning when you bring home your second dog. It could take a long time for your two pups to adjust to living together.
Remember, even if your existing dog is thrilled to have a playmate, he may not have processed the big picture. He will have to learn how to share his space and his people with his new companion.
At the same time, your second dog will be adjusting to your home and learning how he fits into this new environment. Remain patient, and give your pups plenty of supervision and attention during their transition period.
Providing a home to an animal in need is one of the most generous things you can do.