Should You Add a Second Dog?
Have you often watched your dog and thought, "hmmm, would my guy be happier with a brother?"
We coined the hashtag #canthavejustone here at Big Rock Labradoodles, and we throw it around pretty liberally, but that is because, in truth, adding a second dog to your family will very likely be the best thing to enrich your current Wonderful Woofie's overall quality of life. There are exceptions, so let's look at the time for "yes" and the time for "no".
In the early days of canine domestication, dogs were with their humans all day, everyday. Everywhere the human went, the dog was sure to follow, a constant companion. Even just 100 years ago, dogs rarely sat around the house until they got walked once or twice a day. Inconceivable to us today, but dogs actually roamed around the streets of the "hood" on their own, as roads were quiet with far less cars in communities, to threaten their safety. Today, socialization for your dog is typically a planned event, and maybe only happens once a week, when there is more time to maybe take in the community dog park, or go for a hike or a camping trip. This is where the decision to add another dog to the family makes good sense. During the day, while you are at work and the kids are school, followed by after school activities and errands, your family pet is at home alone. Dogs are highly social creatures, and in most cases, I feel that dogs are happier with other dogs. Even where one of you is at home most of the day, a second dog might truly be the best choice. I believe that dogs, in general, are happier with other dogs, but especially Doodles! It's hard on social creatures to live without others of their species. But, how do you ultimately decide? And in which cases would it not be the right choice?
Don't just rush out and get another dog.
Any of you that has a dog, especially Doodle people, know very well that dogs have personalities!
It is important to select a second dog that will compliment your current dog.
What We Know About Adding A Second Dog While you can be reasonably sure when bringing home a second dog that your first dog will be better off for the company, you can never be certain just how well it’s going to work. Following these suggestions will increase your chances of a better pairing.
Choose dogs with a similar activity level Choosing two dogs of the same breed is very helpful in that they share more common behaviors, such as play style, than other breeds. Even more than breed similarity though, the dogs should have similar aptitude for exercise and what they find stimulating. A dog who’s a bit of a sloth and a dog who is only happy chasing something may have difficulty in finding commonality. This would also prove problematic for you, the human in the relationship, to have two dogs with totally different interests and exercise needs. Having one dog that just wants to sniff everything on a walk, not run or play and then head back home and the other that wants to romp and fetch and swim for over an hour is going to prove difficult for you to manage taking them out together and satisfying their needs and instincts. You would need to spend extra time in taking the dogs out on separate outings.
They don't need to be of similar age, but they should be of similar health. Many people surmise that it’s important that the second dog be around the same age as the first. Or, they hope that bringing a puppy or young dog into the house will revitalize an older dog. More important than age in consideration of a second dog is giving more thought to what your first dog might be up for. Older dogs can definitely be rejuvenated by the addition of a younger pup, but only if the older dog is not poorly, or so slowed down that a young dog would just cause stress to him. A younger dog is not going to reverse arthritis pain, for example.
Generally speaking, female-to-female is not the best choice. If you choose two females, no one is saying that they will not get along. In fact, it’s uncommon for two dogs of any gender to fight if they live in the same household. But there are studies that have shown that fighting dogs are more apt to both be female. Mixed gender sets or neutered male-plus-male is more likely to work out.
Tips to Help Your Dogs to Get Along
Some consideration must be given to the introduction of a new dog to the home, to help your first dog adapt to his new "brother or sister". The last thing you want is for your first dog to feel pushed aside in favor of the new addition.
The first step is the introduction. When you bring puppy home, have your first dog come outside, on a leash, be sure that puppy is on a leash too, have them meet on neutral turf. I suggest the sidewalk across the street, or in front of your neighbor's house. Allow them to sniff each other out and see what the other is all about. If after a few minutes it seems that all is well, the two dogs are relaxed and at ease, it's time to enter into the home. But very important, allow the first dog to enter the house first. After-all, it's his turf. Once both dogs are inside, remove the leashes and let them continue to explore each other. If you are bringing home a new puppy, rather than a young dog, be sure to get puppy out to the potty area after only about 5 minutes of this new situation.
Now that your home and things seem to be going well, what else can you do to further enhance this new situation?
Be sure to pay lots of attention to your first dog. A new puppy is very exciting and everyone wants to spend time with and play with him, but it is so important that your first dog not feel "replaced" or cast aside in favor of the new puppy. The new pet is going to require some extra attention to help it to adapt to it's new home environment, but be care not to alienate your old dog or this can strain the new relationship between the two dogs.
In order to avoid this situation, try to allow priority access to your old dog in all things, just in the beginning. Pet him first, feed him first, etc....go out of your way to say "hey, you're our number one dog".
As time goes on, the two dogs are going to figure out their own hierarchy. It will depend too on what resources are more important to each dog. One may need to be the first to be pet, while the other may need to be the first to be fed. Rarely do we see one dog need to be top dog in all matters. You will see how it all shakes our for them as time goes on.