Double the pleasure, double the fun. Who wouldn’t be up for that? For many dog parents, welcoming a second or third (or more) dog to the household is an attractive prospect. However, some forethought and careful planning needs to be taken into consideration before you make the leap from being a single-dog household to multiples.
Think about the basics
While having more than one dog has many upsides, be sure to consider basic requirements before adding another pooch to your household and your life.
- Do you have enough space in your home for another dog?
- Do you have the time and patience to put in to an additional dog?
- Will your financial situation allow for additional basic care costs such as food, veterinary care, dog sitting?
If the answers to all of these questions are ‘yes’ it’s time to give thought to the best possible arrangement that will keep everyone in your household (including your current dogs) happy.
Consider age, sex and size
While it is very easy to fall in love with a cute puppy or an appealing rescue dog you need to keep in mind the status and temperament of your current dog. It is generally not considered a good idea to have two very young dogs in the household at the same time. Your current dog should be at least a couple of years old and well-established in the house. This way he can help indoctrinate the newcomer into the rules and routines in the home. Aged dogs can also be good mentors to younger canine friends, but they may not have the patience or stamina for play and rough-housing that a younger dog might.
Generally speaking, dogs of opposite sexes are a better bet for harmony when introducing a new pet into your family. Dominance issues are often more pronounced between two males or two females, where a male/female combination tends to work out more smoothly.
Also keep in mind size differences when considering adding a new dog to your family. If your current dog is a tiny toy breed, you might want to reconsider adopting that sweet St. Bernard puppy you saw at the animal shelter, and look for something smaller.
Health benefits of having multiple dogs
While it’s pretty obvious that there are more health benefits for humans in this situation – more love, more exercise, more stress relief, for starters – it may surprise you to know that there are also health benefits for the dogs, too.
One of the advantages to having two or more dogs is that they tend to play together, thereby promoting more physical and mental fitness. If you are very busy and don’t have time to walk your dogs as often as you should, a fenced yard will allow your dogs space to get out, stretch their legs and have fun together. A tired dog is a good dog, and makes for a happy owner.
Additionally, dogs are pack animals. Being part of a small pack (ie: two dogs) can help relieve separation anxiety issues as well as help with emotional development. A rescue dog who is unsure of himself will benefit greatly from the company of a stable dog with a solid, trusting temperament.
Introducing your new dog
Introducing a new dog to your existing pets takes a little planning and thought. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition and a happy home for everyone:
- Make your initial introduction on neutral ground, with plenty of space, preferably outdoors. Introduce only one dog at a time to the newcomer and keep both dogs on slack leads. In the case of two males, one dog may urinate. Give the other dog an opportunity to sniff the urine, which is basically a canine introduction.
- Ensure that there are no toys or treats in the area where the introductions are being made.
- Both dog handlers should stay calm and relaxed. Avoid hovering over the dogs, which can raise tension levels.
- Keep the meeting brief. Once the dogs have met on neutral ground, use your judgment as to whether the time is right to move them indoors to carry on. Again, plenty of space can help keep things calm. Give the newcomer an opportunity to check out his new home.
- When introducing a new dog in to your household it’s a good idea to take some time off from work for a few days. Plan to spend that time with both dogs so that the newbie can become accustomed to household routines. This will also give your new canine buddy a sense of security and allow you to observe the ongoing development of the relationship between your new dog and the pets already established in the household.
Given careful consideration and planning, adding a new dog to your life can be a rewarding and happy experience. Who wouldn’t want all the extra life and love another canine buddy can offer?
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