Bringing a new dog home is a wonderful experience, but it often isn’t easy. There’s obviously a settling in period, and they also have another dog to get used to. Many people say having a second dog doesn’t make that much difference, but getting two dogs to bond and accept each other can certainly be a challenge.
If they absolutely adore each other from the start, then you are very lucky and have found the right match. However, most dogs take a while to feel comfortable around a new dog in an environment that’s unfamiliar to them.
To help those who are bringing another dog home, we have put together a handy guide. There’s some things you need to know before you bring your new pooch home, and some helpful tips that will be useful along the way.
Before you bring them home
Before you make the decision to get another dog, you need to consider whether you are really in a position to care for two dogs adequately, and also if it’s the best thing for your existing dog.
Does your current dog get along well with other dogs and enjoy canine companionship, or would they clearly rather be on their own with their human pals? Try not to be selfish and just get another dog because you want one. Speak to every household member and double check everyone is on board with getting a second dog.
Once you have decided that you are ready for a second dog, you need to prepare your home. As you would for any new arrival, make sure your home is dog proofed. Stock up on everything your new dog will need before their arrival, such as a collar, lead and dog bed. Scan your house for anything that might cause arguments between your dogs, such as highly valued toys, food or bones and put them out of reach.
Make sure you have a space where you can separate your dogs initially, and somewhere you can leave them separately when you go out. Create some space in your home where your existing dog can go if they need some space, such as a bed or spare room. They might be a bit overwhelmed by the new arrival at first, so it’s important they can take themselves off somewhere quiet if they wish.
Finding the right match
It’s crucial that you find the right match for your existing dog. You can obviously get a puppy, and hope that as they grow up both dogs continue to get along. Or you can get a rescue dog and introduce them to see whether they are a good match.
If you plan on getting a rescue dog, do your research and try and find a dog that will suit your existing dog well. Consider their size, age, breed, gender and activity levels. You might want to speak to a few rescue centres about what sort of dog might be the right match, and they can keep you in mind when new dogs come in.
Once you have decided on a dog you like and think may be suitable, it’s time to arrange a meet and greet. Arrange for both dogs to meet on neutral ground, and if they initially seem OK with each other, take them for a walk together. This will help you to see whether they are interacting nicely, and decide whether your dog is comfortable around the new dog.
The next step would be to let them spend more time together off lead or in a play area under supervision. Some dogs might need a few meet and greets to gradually get used to each other, others will get on wonderfully from the start.
Once you have decided that both dogs appear to get on, it’s time to take your new rescue dog home. Remember that things can be very different in the home, when your existing dog is on their territory. They may become a bit protective or not appreciate a new dog on their turf, at least initially. Never bring a new dog straight into the house with a meet and greet on neutral ground first. When you do bring the new dog home, try to avoid changing your existing dog’s routine too much, or they will feel more unsettled and frustrated by the presence of another dog.
Reassure your existing dog
Don’t change the way you behave with your existing dog when the new dog arrives. It’s tempting to shower the new pooch with loads of attention, but make sure you give your attention fairly. Also, avoid the temptation to give your existing dog more attention than usual. However, you can still reassure them and let them know that having a new dog isn’t going to change your relationship with them.
Create lots of positive experiences
One of the best things you can do when introducing a second dog to your home is create plenty of positive experiences. You want both dogs to associate being around each other as a positive thing. For example, take them on lots of fun walks, let them go off lead together (if possible), reward them for good behaviour and let them play together if they are playing nicely. It’s very important to spend one on one time with each dog individually. This will help you to bond with them, strengthen their training, and give them the attention they crave.
Don’t leave them alone together unattended
When you bring a new dog home and initially your dogs get along really well, there’s the temptation to leave them on their own together. In the first few weeks and months especially, you just don’t know what they will do if left alone.
The last thing you want to happen is for them to have a nasty scrap when you aren’t around to protect either dog. This creates a negative experience and could really harm the potential for them to form a bond. Even leaving your house for a few minutes isn’t wise. When you go out, keep them separate until you know you can 100% trust them together. Some dogs may be fine together after a few months, others may take years, you have to decide when you feel they are ready.