Is it Better to Have One or Two Dogs?
Concerned dog parents often ask our McAllen vets whether it would be better to have one dog or two. While the answer isn't necessarily straightforward, dogs' social nature means that they do thrive in group environments.
There may be advantages to adopting a second dog, such as:
- You will have two adorable dogs to love
- Your older dog could help you train a new puppy
- They can keep each other company
- Both dogs will be able to entertain each other and exercise together
- When two dogs have each other, this can help ease separation anxiety
While you might consider it a good idea to get a second dog to give your first dog some company, the start of the process may prove challenging. Your first dog may not like having to share their toys or environment.
We'll discuss some factors to consider when getting a second dog and how a little preparation can make the process as smooth as possible for everyone.
Introducing a Second Dog to Your First Dog
If you bring home a second dog, your first dog may feel displaced and uncertain. While most dogs tend to get along well with their new sibling, your first dog may not be happy to have to share their territory, space, toys or owner's affection.
These facts mean that doing some preparation and research as you get ready to bring home a second dog key to a safe, healthy and fulfilling introduction and relationship.
The Kind of Dog You Should Consider Getting
When adopting or purchasing another pooch, it's important to determine which type of dog will best suit your current dog and your family's lifestyle.
Here are factors to take under serious consideration as you embark on your search for a second canine companion:
- Can your home accommodate a second dog?
- Will you have time to play with and care for another dog?
- What size dog will work best for you and your family?
- Can you afford to care for a second dog?
- What are your old dog's exercise needs vs. your new dog's?
- Will your current dog be able to interact and keep up with a puppy, or will an older, calmer dog be best?
By considering each of these points singularly and as part of your overall assessment, you should be able to determine if you are ready for a second dog, and find one that will be a perfect match for your family.
You may also want to book a wellness exam for your first dog to check that they are in good health before you bring a second dog home.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
It's imperative that you 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.