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Adding a Second Dog to Your Family? What You Should Know

Man petting dog

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Prepare your pup.

First of all, consider how your current dog is likely to feel about a new canine sibling. Does the dog you already own play and snuggle with every dog she meets? That’s a great sign! Does she growl or lunge whenever she sees another pup? That could be problematic. Not sure how she feels about her fellow canines? Consider asking dog-owning pals to come by (or meet you somewhere neutral) so you can gauge your dog’s reaction in a safe way. While many dogs love playing with other canines, some are better in single-dog homes, so if your dog doesn’t seem to do well with others, you might need to reconsider your decision to expand your pack.

Portrait of a shelter dog

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Choose the right addition.

Keep in mind that even if your pooch is a total darling around other pups in general, that’s not a guarantee that she’ll immediately welcome a new addition to her home. Even with two sweet-natured dogs, it may take some work on your end to create a peacable kingdom. And while there’s never a guarantee that any two dogs will get along, there are a few things you can look for in your second dog that could make it a bit more likely. Considerations include temperament, size, sex, age, whether the dog has been spayed or neutered and possibly the new dog’s breed, as some breeds are generally considered to be more dog-friendly than others. If your current dog is, say, a geriatric Chihuahua, bringing home a boisterous Great Dane puppy is probably too big a difference in size and energy levels. Dogs with a slight difference in height and weight, an age difference of a couple of years and similar energy and activity levels tend to be more likely to pair well. Finally, trainer Mikkel Becker notes that the likelihood of intense fighting is higher between two female dogs than it is with either two males or a male and female dog (although, remember, that’s no guarantee, especially among breeds that aren’t known for playing well with others).

Two dogs meeting

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Introduce the dogs properly.

Once you’re sure your new dog will be a good fit for your fur family, it’s time to schedule a visit with the vet. Before introducing any new animal to the pets you already have, all animals involved should be thoroughly examined by your veterinarian and be up-to-date on vaccinations. Your vet might recommend a quarantine period, too, so be sure to follow his or her advice. Once you get the all-clear, schedule a play date — but keep it low key. “Be sure they meet at a neutral place, and not at home. Maybe a park,” suggests Facebook fan Cindy Lynn Ostergard. Once they’ve met and seem to be on good terms, you can try walking them side by side (offering treats as rewards for good behavior) to give them an additional opportunity to get to know each other before you all head home. And speaking of going home, if you’re feeling unsure about how your dogs will react to one another in the home environment, it might be helpful to keep them both on a short leash or to put the new dog in an exercise pen or crate to begin with. And be sure to keep the rewards for good behavior coming — for both dogs. You want the new dog to feel welcome and your first dog to feel like this new addition means good things for her.

Petting a senior dog

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Don’t forget who came first.

It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new dog — that’s totally natural and completely understandable. But it’s important that you continue to make time for your original dog, too. Remember, she didn’t ask for this addition, and all the changes to her home and routine might be a bit disconcerting. “Make sure the first gets just as much attention or a bit more than new addition,” Facebook fan Barbara Ochs says. Setting aside time to spend with each dog individually is a good idea, not only while the new dog is settling in, but throughout the years.

Man walking two dogs

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Remain patient and keep up the good work.

Now that everybody’s home and happy (and maybe taking up all the space in your bed), you might think that there’s nothing more to be done. However, to help ensure that you continue to have a happy multi-dog household, you might find that turning to a professional trainer is a smart move, either by attending classes or enlisting a trainer to come to your home to address specific concerns. And always keep in mind that it can take time for the dogs to fully adjust. While they are getting used to each other and to their new routines, there might be bumps in the road — possibly some frustrating ones. But be patient and keep using positive reinforcement as you train them. Owning two dogs might take a little more work than just having one, but we suspect you’ll get far more than double the joy out of it.

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