Preparing for a second dog

by Nancy Boland

Initially you may see only the benefits of getting another dog — such as company and a permanent playmate for your existing dog. But what if it doesn’t work out? What if your existing dog hates your new one or they constantly fight? Will two dogs be harder to train and keep under control? Will one teach the other all his bad habits? So many questions to contemplate before jumping in head first; here are some important things to consider when preparing for a second dog:

Have you chosen a dog you feel will be most compatible with any others you own? If you have any doubts, seek expert help.

Can you afford it? Another dog means extra food, pet insurance and vet’s bills.

Have you got the time to do lots of early one-to-one training with your new dog, and take him out separately? Otherwise he will bond most strongly with your existing dog(s) and not you.

If you have an older dog and are bringing in a puppy, have you installed an indoor kennel or stair gate to ensure the puppy can be separated from your other dog when necessary — such as at mealtimes, rest/sleep times, or should he ever get too annoying.

Some time before getting a new dog, calm your relationship down with your existing dog a bit. Don’t let him have access to you at all times, and make him spend some regular time alone in his own separate quarters — initially while you’re still at home. This will lower the shock of your attention being more divided when the new dog comes.

Be clear in your mind that how well existing dogs accept a new puppy or dog will be greatly down to you. They will initially look to you to ensure that the new arrival’s behaviour is kept within tolerable bounds, and a failure on your part to do this can lead to tension.

Never get a new dog imagining that he will cure an existing dog of his problems; such as separation anxiety, barking, or fear aggression — as younger dogs in particular, unless skilfully trained, are more likely to pick up an older dog’s bad habits than teach him any better ones.

2nd dog 2

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