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Two Dogs are Better than One

By Stephanie Minturn

If you are a pet parent of one amazing pup, you may already be thinking of bringing a second dog into your home to love and care for. Extending your fur family can be a very exciting time for the entire family but it is not uncommon to have some fears. A concern among pet parents around the globe is introducing additional pets into the home and the anxiety it may cause your already settled pet. Well, not to worry, you are not alone. As a matter of fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the average American household has at least two dogs and many of them had only one dog for a significant period of time before introducing a second. It is not uncommon to worry about how your first pet will handle the stress of having a new animal in the home and fortunately, there are many tips available to help alleviate some of this stress.

A new dog can cause your pet stress

First, it is important to determine whether or not your dog is ready for a playmate. Does he have any behavioral issues that needs to be addressed such as excessive hyperactivity, separation anxiety, house training accidents or aggression? If so, you may want to resolve these issues before bringing a new pet into the mix. Many behaviorists feel that a second dog is opt to mirror the current dog’s behavior, causing more problems, not only you as an owner but for the pets as well. Most Vets recommend either getting two dogs at the same time or waiting for at least a year and until initial training is complete before adding a second.

 

Another important step in the process is selecting the right dog. It is vital to choose a dog that is compatible with your first dog. For example, if your first dog’s personality is more docile, bringing in a high energy pup could be annoying to your dog and cause some unnecessary problems. On the other hand, a slight increase in energy or perhaps adding a more confident dog to the home with a dog who lacks confidence may help your first pet. This is very situational and should be given careful thought. Size and breed are also important considerations and should be researched beforehand.

After taking these steps into account, you are ready to introduce your new member. You have done everything in your power to choose the right fit for your family and the day has finally arrived! Here are some tips to make that first introduction a smooth one:After taking these steps into account, you are ready to introduce your new member. You have done everything in your power to choose the right fit for your family and the day has finally arrived! Here are some tips to make that first introduction a smooth one:

  • Don’t attempt to introduce the pups alone. Be sure that both dogs are on a leash and each has their own handler.
  • It’s a good idea to have an activity planned, such as taking a walk. Walking allows some parallel interaction and also provides enough of a distraction until the dogs warm up to one another.
  • Allow the dogs to sniff each other, ideally dogs like to sniff nose to nose and then nose to rear. Watch the sniffing closely and be aware of any signs such as growling or showing teeth. If this takes place, firmly tell the dog “no” and back off a little, calmly separating the dogs and trying again in ten minutes.
  • If there are no negative signs displayed but instead, a great deal of excitement, hold the leashes up high as the dog’s sniff and play so that they do not become tangled. Still, keep them on their leashes, as a great deal of excitement can sometimes turn to aggression in a hurry. Once you feel comfortable, you can let the dogs off of their leashes.

Once the pups are off of their leashes, here are a few ongoing tips and precautions to take while things are still new:

  • In the beginning, it may be a good idea to keep the pets separated in the home while you are away. The use of baby gates are a good way of accomplishing this. Be sure to show each dog individualized attention, by talking to them and petting them in front of the other when returning home.
  • Keep the dogs separated during mealtimes and “chew times” with their bones or toys until they are very comfortable with each other and the new environment.
  • Monitor play times and introduce these times slowly, watching for any signs of aggression.
  • Take your dogs on walks together. Walks are especially important to strengthen the bond between them. It gives the effect of walking in a pack which is instinctual. By walking in between them or in front of them, it shows them that you are the only alpha and that they are on the same playing field as one another. This will ultimately allow your pets to become closer.

Remember, patience and consistency is key. Adding to your family is a heart warming experience and the rewards of two canine personalities in one home are endless! Chances are, they will love one another just as much as you love them both. By following these tips, I hope that you find your experience to be a positive one!

 

Stephanie, is a Registered Nurse and proud mother, of 4 whom has always loved animals and the purity and beauty they bring into the world. She enjoys researching current trends and evidence based practice in the pet industry and relating it to the healthcare industry for humans. She has passion in discovering new found knowledge with other pet owners like herself.

    
 
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