What to Know about Adding a Second Dog to Your Family

Keeping an eye on local adoption clinics?

Getting that “twinkle in your eye” when you see a young pup at the dog park? Sure, you love your current dog, and he loves you, but now you’re remembering those first few months. You could hold your little guy in one hand, feed him right out of your palm—and don’t even get started with that sweet puppy smell. Yep, you’ve got puppy fever.

But before you get carried away scrolling through #puppiesofinstagram, take some time to consider the impact of adding a new friend to your family. Not only will it take a toll on your time and energy level, it will also impact the life of your current dog. New puppies are fun, they’re sweet, and they make everyone happy; but there are a few things you should consider before bringing a second furry pal home.

Interaction With Other Dogs

Is your current dog calm and collected when meeting other dogs, aggressive and domineering, or somewhere in between? Either way, it’s important to gauge how your dog will interact with a new little sibling. If you notice your dog doesn’t engage in play, appears timid or tense around other dogs, consider working on her socialization before throwing a new puppy into the mix.

Age and Preferences of Your Current Dog

If you’re looking at adopting a puppy, consider how older dogs interact with younger ones. If you have an older dog who struggles with ailments like arthritis, an energetic, playful pup may not be the best option. Look instead for an older dog within the 3-5 year-old age range. This will ensure energy and maturity levels are more closely aligned with your growing dog family.

Another thing to be aware of is what type of dogs your current buddy is compatible with. While there’s no definitive guide to matching breeds and genders, pay attention to your current dog’s signals. Are they too rough with smaller breeds? Do they get aggressive around dogs that are bigger than they are? Try out a trip to a dog-friendly store or park and observe which other furry friends she seeks out and which she steers clear of. This can help give you an idea of breed, size, and characteristics your dog will get along with.

Established Habits and Behaviors

While it’s true that adult dogs are great at showing young pups the ropes, consider your current dog’s habits. Do they howl through the night, steal scraps off the table or engage in other problematic behaviors? Prepare to have that doubled, as they will likely pass that on to your new dog. After taking a realistic inventory of your dog’s habits and behaviors, consider what it would be like to have that times two. If you feel satisfied with the answer, you may be ready to add a new puppy to your life. If on the other hand, the thought makes you shudder, it’s a good idea to address your current dog’s behavior problems with additional training before adding the burden of another young one.

When the Time Comes…

You’ve done your research, talked with an adoption agency, and the day is now here! Your furry new addition will be arriving and meeting her big sibling. Now it’s up to you to make that introduction as painless as possible. To ease the transition, consider having that first interaction on neutral ground like a park or open field area. Give your dog sibs time to sniff each other out, keep an eye on their interactions, and feel free to separate them if it starts to get dicey.

In the first weeks and months, also be sure to monitor your first dog for signs of jealousy. Make sure you compensate for potential hurt feelings, as your first dog probably grew accustomed to being an “only child.” Also, monitor the interactions between your dogs. Watch for aggressive behaviors from either party and help keep the puppy from being a nuisance.

In due time your dog family will come together. If you’ve done your research and put a little forethought into the process, you’ll set yourself and your dogs up for success and happiness.

Meet the Author: Sarah Zerkel

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