October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month… but let’s be honest: every month is a good month to provide a loving home to a dog in need. We understand that not everyone has the time, energy, and means to adopt a dog right now. That said, October is a great opportunity to spend some extra time researching, fundraising, and raising awareness about the importance of adopting rescue dogs.
For those who are able to open their homes to a dog—whether it’s their first, second, or 10th—it’s important to carefully prepare your home and household for his arrival. This also means keeping your current pup’s needs and personality in mind. More isn’t always merrier when it comes to pets, and proper protocols are necessary when it comes to introducing new and established pets.
Should You Adopt a Second Dog?
If you already have one dog, adopting a second dog may seem like no big deal. After all, you already have the food, supplies, and routine! It’s not always that easy, though—every dog comes with its own unique needs and personality, which may or may not be compatible with your household.
Before bringing home another dog, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have the capacity (time, finances, space, energy, etc.) to care for a second dog?
- Are all humans in your household on the same page about living with another dog?
- Is your current dog potty trained and adjusted to his home?
- Does your current dog tend to get along with other animals?
- How does your current dog cope with changes?
- What kind of dog would be the best fit? Consider the size, age, breed, personality, energy levels, and health.
You also want to make sure you aren’t adopting a second dog for the wrong reasons. For example, if your current dog is overly anxious or aggressive, adding a second dog to the household may exacerbate those issues rather than resolve them. You also don’t want to get an additional dog to appease other family members—especially if you’re the one who will end up doing all of the work.
Choosing the Right Dog
When choosing your canine’s new counterpart, you’ll want to choose a similarly-sized dog. They don’t have to be the same breed, but they should each be able to hold their own when roughhousing together.
Similarly, you’ll probably want dogs of similar age or energy levels. An elderly pooch may not be interested in playing with a puppy, and an anxious dog may find that a high-energy playmate adds to his stress.
Consider personality traits, too. Dogs naturally tend to establish a hierarchy, and chances are, the established dog will want to be the alpha. If you end up with two dominant, aggressive dogs, you may just be increasing the chances of a conflict. Choosing dogs of the opposite sex may reduce rivalry… just make sure they’re spayed and neutered!
For the convenience of your own lifestyle, you may also prefer that both of your dogs require similar levels of exercise and food, so you can walk and feed them at the same time.
Introducing a New Dog to Your Current Dog
When it comes time to make the new dog adoption official, leave your current dog at home. You want to be able to direct all of your attention to your new furry friend without any distractions or added stress.
If possible, don’t bring your new dog home right away, as this could cause a territorial conflict. Instead, arrange for the two pups to meet on neutral territory such as at a park or friend’s house. You may need to plan on keeping the dogs separate for the first few days or so until they get used to each other with continued brief meet-ups.
As the dogs are still getting acquainted, keep them both leashed and supervised until they seem comfortable together. Allow for plenty of sniffing and investigating as they become familiar with each other, but don’t force it. Be patient, and let them get to know each other on their own time.
Pay close attention to the dogs’ body language, too. If you notice any signs of tension or stress, it’s best to separate them until they’re both calm. Be sure to reward good behavior with plenty of treats and praise, too.
Once both dogs are home, provide them with their own designated food and water bowls; you may also want to keep them separated during meal times, in case there’s any competition when it comes to food.
On that same note, be sure each pooch has his own toys, bed, and other supplies to reduce territorial conflicts. Your dogs may learn to happily share, but it’s best to be prepared for the opposite.
Naturally, you’re going to be paying a lot of attention to your newcomer as you get to know him and help him get adjusted to his new home and routine. It’s possible that your other dog will feel jealous, so be intentional about spending extra quality time together to let him know that he’s not being replaced or forgotten.
For anxious dogs who may need some extra assistance coping with change, try Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews. For those who also want dental support, try our chewable Hemp Calming Fresh Sticks.