Some people think that having a second dog in the family means double the love, double the fun, and double the loyalty. All of that is true, but there are many things to consider first.
Before you head to the local shelter to add another pooch to the pack, there are at least 12 things to consider prior to making the leap.
1) Double Dogs Means Double Expense
There will be more costs involved with having two dogs. Consider more food, more vet bills, more grooming, more supplies, and any other additional expenses that pop up along the way.
Take a good hard look at your financial situation and ask yourself if having another canine member in the family is feasible for your budget. Make a spread sheet and see what is left over per month. Is there room in the budget for another pet? Staying organized and being prepared is always the way to go!
2) First Dog Jealousy Syndrome Vs. Aggression
Some dogs will not easily welcome another animal to the pack but there are things you can do to ease the transition if adding another dog is possible. Consider the personality of your dog around other animals. If he gets dog aggressive while on walks, at the dog park or when other dogs try to visit, adding another dog may not be possible.
However, dog jealousy can be a changed behavior when approached properly. Introducing them on neutral turf is always a better option. Your local shelter will have suggestions on how to do this as successfully as possible. A two-dog household can be in your future but getting there has a lot to do with the tolerance, patience, and acceptance.
3) Changing Family Dynamics
The way your current routine is set up will change. Can you be flexible enough to handle it? Walking two dogs versus one is certainly a different experience but it also a lot of fun. Dogs are naturally pack animals. Your dog may feel inspired with a friend at her side and want to go the distance. A longer walk is good for both of you.
Mealtime, playtime, and cuddle time will also change– but again, like walks, it can be a wonderful change you all will enjoy. Who wouldn’t love 2x the snuggles? Regardless, things will change and you will likely have to adjust. Remaining flexible is key but the rewards are so worth it!
4) Gender Decisions
Some experts will tell you same gender littermates don’t do well together and others will say it’s a matter of how they are raised. Will you get a female dog if you currently have a boy? Over at petMD, they say there are no set rules about good dog matches because each dog is a unique individual.
The best way to decide is to have the dogs meet first. Regardless of gender, it’s how their personalities jive that truly matters.
5) Worst Case Scenario
You fall in love with that second dog but no matter how many times you try, your #1 won’t accept her into the fold. What do you do?
There are several ways you can go about this before giving up. Is your home conducive to keeping them separate so you can transition them slowly? So long as your first dog isn’t trying to attack the new dog, acceptance is possible. NEVER put a dog in harm’s way. However, if your #1 is just being cranky or avoiding the dog altogether, there is hope. You can contact your vet or an animal behaviorist and ask their advice. Again, patience is key.
6) Sleeping Arrangements
If your current dog sleeps with you on the bed, where is the second dog going to sleep? Some dogs will surprise you and be totally okay with a new buddy in the family. Other dogs may not be able to relax and fit that perfect spot they once had.
Think about how you can make this transition easy on both dogs, as well as on you. Putting a new dog bed on top of your own bed, for your new pup, may be the way to go. Or keeping them separate until they get to know each other better may be the best option. Again, be flexible. Your dogs will follow your cues.
7) Travel Time
If you like to take trips with your dog, then you want your second dog to enjoy them as well. The best way to approach this is to get her used to the car right away. If she initially gets car sick, your vet can recommend several natural ways to treat this. If those don’t work, then prescription meds may be the route to go. In general, dogs love car rides. Keep your car cool and comfortable and fido x 2 should be in doggy heaven.
8) Doggy Health
Your first dog is properly vaccinated and up-to-date on her vet visits. Your new dog, especially a puppy, will need multiple vaccines and to be spayed/neutered. This is all normal and dogs will be fine EXCEPT if your new dog has something contagious. Make sure you ask questions at the shelter and take your new dog to the vet right away.
If your new doggo has something that can be spread to your other pooch, keep them separated until it’s safe. Your vet will know what to do so just keep an open ear and an open mind.
9) Assessing Current Dog Behavior
If your current pooch isn’t the most well trained or has any sort of issues from soiling inside the house to barking frequently, the second dog will likely pick up on this and mimic their behavior. Instead of having one dog who barks while you go to work, are you prepared to handle two that do this?
The good news: Old dogs can be taught new tricks! Both dogs can work on training. You can sign them up for training classes at your local pet store or even read some books and try things yourself. Dogs are very receptive, especially when treat motivated. They will also inspire each other. Adding a new dog can actually make your first dog better behaved. Pretty cool, huh?
10) Time Commitment
Ask yourself how much time you have for your current dog. Pets are a time commitment but we promise they are worth EVERY SECOND! Because they are pack animals, dogs do like to entertain each other but they need you there for guidance. Make sure you are willing to commit to walks, playtime and those extra snuggles. If so, go for it!
Getting a second dog can be rewarding, fun, and life-enhancing but you should be prepared. If you are willing to take advice, work with a behaviorist if needed, and gradually introduce your new dog to the family, then go for it. Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are, whether you have one dog, two, or ten.
And remember, the shelters are filled with dogs of all ages who need homes. Adopting a dog closer to your own dog’s age, or even a senior, may be the better route. Puppies, although adorable, are a bigger commitment. Whatever you choose, we know you’ll all live happily ever after!
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