Thinking about adding another dog to your household? There are some things to take into consideration before moving ahead, and today our knowledgable Concord veterinarians share some tips to keep in mind.
Your dog has brought so much joy to your life that you've decided to add another to your household! It should be as easy as heading to your nearby shelter or ethical breeder and picking out a cute dog or puppy, right? Today, our Concord vet team share some things to keep in mind when preparing to introduce a new canine companion to your current dog.
Considerations For Adding Another Dog To Your Household
Many loving pet parents add a second dog to their family because they're worried that their dog is lonely. While well-meaning, there are more factors to think about; although dogs are social creatures, this doesn't mean that all dogs will become friendly. Before you go about introducing a second (or third, or more) dog into your household, keep your current pet's likes and needs in mind. Some things to consider include:
- Your current dog. Is your dog large or small, and will another dog have enough physical room? Does your current dog have special physical, medical, or dietary needs? What are your dog's energy level and play style like? How do they socialize with other dogs?
- Your household. Are other members of your household (e.g. family, roommates) willing to help care for pets? Is everyone on board with adding another dog to the home?
- Your lifestyle. Do you have time to play with and walk another dog twice daily? Are you financially comfortable taking on veterinary bills, food, toys etc. for another dog?
How Can I Help My Current & New Dogs Get Along?
The first thing to do is to have a positive attitude while keeping your expectations realistic! Your current household dog might be sweet as pie – until they suddenly have to share their toys, territory, food, and favorite humans with an unknown dog. Preparing in advance to introduce a new dog into the household could help things daily a bit more smoothly.
The Dogs' First Meeting
It's a good idea to have a fun, low-stress activity be the first meeting of the two dogs. Ask a family member or friend that your dog knows to bring them to a low-traffic or quiet green space. When you bring along the new dog, both animals will have had some exercise and mental stimulation in a place new to them (which is less likely to spark territorial behavior from either).
Make sure that each dog is properly and safely controlled. A leash can be used; have the dogs wear them loosely enough to not hamper, but each person holding should have firm control.
Watch the dogs' body language while they 'get to know' each other. It's normal for two new dogs to circle each other and sniff each other (especially the rear ends) before making any eye contact. While keeping an eye on the interaction, keep your and your companions' tone pleasant and positive. If either dog growls or shows other signs of aggression, do not scold them - it is a natural reaction and your negative reaction will teach them to hide their aggression around you, not to be more friendly to the other dog. Instead, redirect the dogs' attention.
If the dogs ignore each other, don't force the interaction. Let them get to know each other on their own terms. If your introductions are tense or unsuccessful, it might be time to consider another new dog or reconsider getting another dog altogether.
Introducing Another Dog Into The Home
Once you've had a positive interaction (e.g. a shared walk through the park), you can bring your new dog home. Allow your current dog to enter the home first, to reassure them that their territory is still theirs, and allow them to 'invite' the new dog in (perhaps a little positive vocal encouragement will help)! To help the new dog settle in and reduce rivalry, make sure each dog has their own food and water bowls, beds, and areas to rest. Also, consider moving your current dog's favorite toys for a short while as the new dog gets acclimated, and then reintroduce them along with new toys for the recent arrival.
Until you're sure the two canines are getting along well, keep them separated (with access to their food and water) while you're not at home, and supervise playtime. Provide positive reinforcement for friendly interactions between them, and make sure you spend one-on-one time with each so that they feel secure in their bond with you.
Regardless of breed, age, or size of your new canine companion, they need to receive their first check-up and routine veterinary care for the continued health and well-being of both your current and new animal friends. Get in touch with your trusted Concord vet team to arrange for your pet's care.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.