By Susan Hatfield
Last week, I visited with a family who wanted to adopt a second dog. I asked why, and they said because they didn’t have enough time to spend with the dog they already had and wanted a playmate to keep him company. Of course, the last thing they needed was another dog. After some counseling on the phone regarding priorities, they realized adopting a second dog was not the answer. The family decided to ask our help in finding a more appropriate home for the dog they already had as no one in the family really had any time to devote to the animal in the first place.
Unfortunately, we receive many calls like this one. Families need to carefully consider all the pros and cons of adopting a second dog. First of all, are you looking for a puppy or an older dog? Puppies usually adapt more quickly whereas older dogs could take a bit longer to adjust. You need to be aware of “alpha,” or dominant, dogs. You certainly don’t want a situation where fighting could occur.
Consult with your veterinarian about any questions you have regarding canine behavior and tips on adopting a second dog. Some prefer a neutered male and spayed female as they feel two spayed females or two neutered males might not get along. I have to say, in my experience, I’ve never found a firm combination I could recommend. I think it just depends on the breed, characteristics, age, behavior traits, sex and taking the time to see which combination will work with your existing companion.
If you think you’ve found that special dog, I suggest the following tips:
- Introduce the dogs outside on leashes on neutral ground, so you won’t have territorial issues. They will sniff and could possibly growl at first. Always use a positive voice and watch for those wagging tails. Walk around the area with the dogs still on leashes. Keep a short distance between the dogs so they can still sniff and see each other but cannot become tangled in the leashes should things become volatile.
- If you think the first meeting went well, during the second meeting, let the dogs run together in an enclosed area while supervised. I think the most important aspect is patience. Have several meetings with both dogs to determine if it could be a long-term relationship. Take your time in selecting your second dog. If the two are “just not hitting it off,” then you might want to rethink that particular dog. There are many wonderful dogs just waiting to be adopted.
- When you find the right dog, you, and your pets, will be a wonderful combination. Make sure not to favor one over the other. Feed them at the same time but in different dishes and, sometimes, different locations. If you’ve selected a puppy and have an older dog, make sure you give the older dog some quiet time away from all the rowdiness of the young pup.
- Most important, spend time with them. Take them on walks and to the dog park. Play ball with them outside and let them snuggle up with the kids as they watch TV on Saturday morning. Make them a part of your family. Having two dogs gives you double the love, so enjoy.