Life with two dogs is everything you can imagine it to be. Double the love. Double the snuggles. As well as double the responsibility! Caring for two dogs is a lot of work, however, if you are up for the commitment, it is 100% worth it!
There is a lot to consider when adding another dog to your family. How will a new dog impact your daily routine? Are you prepared for the added financial responsibility? And one of the most important questions, how will your current dog react to a new dog?
I had a hard time answering that last question. While Vito loves playing with other dogs and hanging out with them, he was (and still is) a big mama’s boy! I kept asking myself how will he handle sharing me with another dog. At the time, I was in a committed relationship, so I felt comfortable knowing there would be two of us to care for the new pup. So I took a risk and decided to add Luca to our pack. To my surprise, Vito and Luca got along from day one! I was relieved because I know not everyone has the same experience when introducing a new furry friend into their home.
With a little luck and a lot of preparation, introducing Luca into our home was a success. I want to help you have that same success...
If you are leaning towards adding another dog to your family, then here are 7 things to consider:
1. YOUR NEW PUPPY IS FOR YOU - The decision to add a second dog to your home shouldn't be because you want your current dog to have a playmate. The amount of time your two dogs will play is short-lived compared to the time you'll spend caring for your new pup. At the end of the day, it's great for your established dog to have a furry sibling but keep in mind, the work that goes into raising a puppy falls on your plate.
2. IS YOUR DOG COOL (LIKE REALLY COOL) WITH OTHER DOGS - Every dog is unique with a different personality, which is why some dogs prefer being an only fur child. Before you step on his paws by bringing home a second pup, make sure he truly gets along with other dogs and enjoys their company.
3. TRAIN YOUR FIRST DOG - Before you even think about bringing home a second puppy, spend the time to properly train your first dog. The last thing you need is your new puppy picking up bad habits from your older pup due to lack of training. This also works to your advantage because a well-trained resident dog will help teach the new puppy good behaviors.
4. INTRODUCE IN A NEUTRAL PLACE - When your current dog meets your new dog for the first time it should be outside your home, like a park. Someplace that your first dog won't feel threatened or territorial. Allow both dogs to be on a loose leash and free to sniff each other. Keep the interaction super positive. Remember dogs can read our energy so if you're having fun with both of them, chances are this will help both dogs adapt to their new living conditions.
5. BUILD A TRUST WITHIN YOUR PACK - Both your first dog and new dog are looking to you to be their support system as you all adjust to your new fluffy family member. Never leave them alone during the beginning stages. Keep both your dogs comfortable by supervising playtime and be present - this means eliminating personal distractions. While your dogs play, stay engaged with them by showing affection (pets and ear scratches), along with positive positive praise for good interactions. When you're not at home, keep the dogs separate (if you're crate training this should be easy).
6. REDUCE SIBLING RIVALRY - Provide separate beds, food, and water bowls for each of your dogs. If your older dog has special toys, then store those in a safe place until both dogs are playing nice and getting along. During mealtime, keep your dogs separate to avoid competition and minimize aggressive behavior.
7. REMEMBER WHO CAME FIRST - Even if your first dog is getting along great with the new puppy, reassure him/her by establishing a little hierarchy. When you get home always greet your first dog, then your new puppy. Spend extra quality time with your resident dog to cement your bond and remind him/her that he/she is still your #1.
When the time comes to add a second pup to your family, follow these tips to make the introduction and transition safe and fun for everyone. Don't forget to be patient, give it a few months for all family members to adjust to the new pup. Lead with love and in time you will reach the perfect 'two-dog home' harmony.