Is It Better to Have One or Two Dogs?
Dogs are social by nature and thrive in group environments. Therefore, if you adopt a second dog you may enjoy many advantages, such as:
- You will have two adorable dogs to love
- Both dogs will be able to exercise together and entertain each other
- Your older dog could help you train a new puppy
- They can keep each other company
- When the dogs have each other, it can help ease separation anxiety they may feel when human family members are away
While getting a second dog might be a good idea, the start of your journey might not be an easy process. What if your first dog doesn't like having to share their toys or environment? In this post, the vets at our Clackamas veterinary hospital list some factors to keep in mind when thinking about getting a second dog, and how to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.
The Consequences of Adding a Second Dog to Your Home
Adding a second dog to your home might cause your first dog to feel uncertain or displaced. While most dogs will get along well with their new sibling, your first dog may not be happy having to share their space, territory, toys, or your affection. This is why it's important to take time to prepare and do your homework when getting ready to bring a second dog into your home.
The Kind of Dog You Should Get
First, just as you likely did for your first dog, think about which type of dog will be best for your family - now including your current dog in the mix. Your current dog will have a large role to play in your decision. Think about factors such as:
- Can your home comfortably fit a second dog?
- What size dog should you look for to best align with you and your family?
- Can you afford to give a second dog the love, care and attention it will need?
- Will your current dog be able to interact with a puppy, or would an older, more calm dog be best?
- What are your current dog's exercises needs What about your new dog's requirements?
By taking these points into consideration, 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 & 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.
Note: If your current dog needs a health checkup, schedule a routine exam with our Clackamas vets at our pet clinic. We can tell you if your current dog has any health issues or illnesses that need treatment before you bring a second pet into the family.
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 pooch to a quiet park or green space, and you can meet them there with your new pup. 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 Eachother
When meeting, it's normal for dogs to circle and sniff each other. Keep this meeting positive by talking to them in a tone that is pleasant. 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 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 gives your original dog the opportunity to invite your new pup into their domain.
During this exciting time, don't forget to book an initial exam for your new puppy at our Clackamas vet clinic so you can take care of all of their health needs right from the start. Ideally, puppies should have their first veterinary appointment when they are about six weeks old. They'll receive a complete physical examination to assess their overall health, and the vet will look for any signs of external parasites or congenital defects.
Limit Opportunities for Rivalry
Make sure each dog has their own 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.
Remember to Supervise 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.
It's imperative that you find time to spend quality one-on-one time with each dog every day so you can cement and protect the personal bond you have with them. This bond will help them feel loved and secure.
If you have any questions or concerns about dog behavior, our veterinary team at Clackamas Pet Clinic can help with behavior training. We have experience working with a wide range of dog breeds at our animal clinic and can provide guidance, advice and support geared to your specific circumstances and requirements.
This may involve working to understand your pet's lifestyle, which concerning behaviors you are noticing and learning what needs to change.
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.