Your Pet's Health

Adding A Second Dog

Your ‘Best Friend’ May Not Need Another?

If dog is “man’s best friend,” then what is a dog to another dog?

This question emerges from the lips of many canine owners each year. Petland knows that the answer is especially important when a dog owner is considering the adoption of a second dog.

People, especially pet lovers, like to think that their dog would love a companion, another furry being to romp and play around with throughout the day. That is true for some dogs. In fact, some dogs become almost inseparable. They eat together. They sleep together. They exercise together. They even love riding in the back seat of the family car – together.

Togetherness: Not for Every Dog

But not all dogs cherish the thought of sharing “you” with another hound. If another dog was invited into the house, then privileges might change. The blanket on the couch might not be big enough for two. The rawhide bone bought for the old dog might be coveted by the new dog. The routine, nightly walk eagerly anticipated by Spot now includes Inky and, truth be known, Spot might not be thrilled.

So how can you tell if your faithful “best friend” would like a companion before actually bringing one home? Petland suggests a couple of trial runs:

  • One night stand – First, you should have a suitable canine companion come to your home and stay the weekend.
  • Week-long stay – Second, you should have a suitable canine companion come to your home and stay a week, possibly two.

The term “suitable” is very important here. Suitable canine companions are generally of the opposite sex. In dogs, males and females generally get along a lot better than two males or two females. (The dogs should be spayed or neutered, of course!)

Other considerations for finding a suitable pal for your dog surround age and size. Both dogs should be about the same age so that the energy levels are equal. Matching an older dog, which has slowed down quite a bit, with a young and physically aggressive dog, is not recommended. Neither is it a good idea to match a Chihuahua with a Great Dane. Generally, the big dog will overpower the little dog no matter how much you try to intervene.

If your dog appears “happy go-lucky” and unstressed by the weekend visitor, then you should try a longer trial period. One to two weeks should be enough time to reveal your dog’s companion likes and dislikes. If all goes well, then Petland pet counselors would agree that your pet would most likely enjoy having another dog around the house.

A weekend often is enough time to tell if your dog is truly unhappy with another dog in the household. Signs of unhappiness can include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Fighting
  • Hiding
  • Hoarding toys, possessions
  • Territorial marking

Most dogs will go through all kinds of adjustments when you change their lives this way, and the worst usually happens during the first few days, according to canine behavior specialists. As the dog’s owner, you should be sure to make your judgement at the end of a visit and not at the beginning.

If you do add a second dog to your family, Petland pet counselors advise making the introduction on neutral ground. This means at a place — perhaps at the county fairgrounds or at a city park – unknown to both dogs. Your old dog most likely has territorial attachments to his home romping grounds, so making an introduction there might be threatening.

Other matchmaking guidelines:

  • Separate the dogs constantly until you are sure they are friends.
  • Separate the dogs at feeding time.
  • Provide separate but equal toys and treats for each dog.
  • Spend some time alone with each dog. This one-to-one therapy helps to alleviate depression and jealously.
  • Involve both dogs in some obedience training. The better you are able to communicate with your dogs, the more they will respect household rules.