Thinking of Adding a Second Dog to Your Family
Considering a second, or even a third pet? Why not? How do the dynamics change within the household? Will my long time buddy still love me?
Long ago, I was told “bringing home another pet is like bringing home another wife or husband into the mix”, and it could be for many. Outside of this obvious concern, the original questions you asked yourself concerning your first pet should be readdressed, right? Size, breed and their traits, expected initial costs, whether it’s a breed that requires grooming or their expected energy levels to name a few. Remember that opposite sex dogs usually will cohabitate the best and neutering or spaying should be done. Here breed specifics are also important to acknowledge and accept. Prior to selecting a dog, you may want to seek professional advise from trainers or breeders keeping in mind that they probably have had many challenges during their career and can advise you which mixture of breeds blend well with your existing pet resulting in a better beginning for all.
The spacing of their ages is also a good idea as those of us with children can relate to. Just think about 2 or 3 children a year apart or less, between the diapers, nap times, feeding, bathing, need I say more? So, this too, is important to space it out a bit , several years minimally to ensure that each gets the best that you have to offer during those training/growing years.
Upon their initial meeting, they’ll usually sniff around a lot and your older dog may, just may not even pay any mind, thinking that the new visitor is just that, a visitor. Well, that may seem naïve, but it won’t take long for them to see that they’ll be housemates for years to come.
If you crate, then two crates may be necessary to keep the peace for a while. You can learn a lot by their body language and should always be around them in case it gets a little tense. Using larger, open spaces allows them to feel each other out better and it will usually be clearer as to how they’ll get along, or not. In my experience over many years, I have heard so many great stories of easy introductions and happy times for all as if some way the dogs just know that they will be together and make it all work. On another subject, cats can and usually are another whole story, personally speaking, many are successful and some are not.
When feeding time comes around, it is best to feed them separately and never leave food out for the taking, if this is a practice of yours now, then it would have to change. Treat your dogs equally and rewarding them for a learned task or just listening is fine. If one hasn’t listened and the other has, then separate treats are fine as long as they are separated and would not create a scene at the time.
As you know, these gifts, our canine buddies, are truly heaven sent, and they’ve not only shared the human experience for thousands of years, but have been enhancing ours. They are more in tune to us than you’ll ever know, or you may realize it already. Many times, a focused energy stare or thought can turn a dog around in its tracks, I’ve seen it. Your moods, your thoughts, and your actions all have an impact on them, especially with two or more. So, please do not add to the stress, but defuse it with positive energy during the early hours and days of the new relationship or equation. Understand that even though they will create their own order of things, they are individuals and as their needs may vary, be aware of their individual emotions at all times.
Those that have rescued a dog often say, “who rescued who?” and in the same vein, if we choose to expand the family, we must offer the best environment, nutrition and care so that we can all not only get along, but love life, each and every day allowing these animals to flourish in our love just as we do in benefitting from their unconditional love.