Congratulations on making the wonderful, life-changing decision to get another dog and become a two dog household!
There are going to be so many amazing moments and experiences ahead of you, but if you don’t select the right dog and nail the initial meeting and first day at home, you could be setting yourself up for some major trouble.
That’s why I’m going to help you select the right dog for your family and teach you how to make sure the first meeting and first day at home goes off without a hitch!
Choosing the second dog
Ok so do you get a puppy? Maybe a rescue dog? Yeah but what breed? Does breed even matter? Should I get a male dog or are they too much work? Help!!!
When getting down to the nitty-gritty of actually choosing the second dog it can be overwhelming with all the different options and opinions out there. Plus, you really don’t want to make the wrong call as you could be setting yourself up to live a nightmare if your dogs don’t get on. Imagine your dreams of going to your local park where your two dogs frolick happily together chasing a ball, fall apart when they can’t stand to even be in the same room together. Trust me when I say that, managing two dogs that don’t live harmoniously together is a situation you want to avoid like the plague.
There is one sure fire way to avoid selecting the wrong dog (hint: it won’t be you doing the selecting). Yep, that’s right, get your existing DOG to choose your second dog! Yes, you heard right folks, your dog should be in charge of selecting the new canine addition to your home.
And here’s why: COMPATIBILITY. After all, they will be spending almost 24/7 together and if they are not compatible, it’s just not going to work.
By compatibility I mean:
- Do they have the same energy level?
- Are their temperaments in sync?
- Are they physically suitable?
- Do their personalities match?
- Are there any behavioural issues that could cause problems?
- Do they WANT to play together?
The dogs certainly don’t have to be the same age, gender, breed or size but they do need to be compatible. If your new dog has an excitable temperament and an overly friendly personality but your existing dog likes to sleep all day then they are unlikely to be compatible. It would be better to find a second dog who has a lower energy level who would be able to engage your existing dog but not be so in their face that they can’t relax together.
If you’re going to get a puppy and you have an older dog, as I mentioned in my previous post, this can be a very good thing for your existing dog. However, you will need to help manage the situation to give your older dog breaks from the puppy and you will need to step in to make sure the puppy understands how to play appropriately and when to take a break.
There is, of course, one more thing you need to consider when selecting your new dog. It’s all good if the dogs get on but can you and your family realistically manage the new dog? Are you going to be able to exercise the new dog at the level they need? Do you have the skills and time required to train the new dog and if not are you prepared to learn and find the necessary time? Are you going to be able to provide adequate leadership? Hopefully, you answered these questions generally when you were making the decision, but when faced with the gorgeous eyes of your new dog, take a step back and think about their needs and if you can meet them.
Bringing the second dog home
Before you even consider bringing the second dog home, they MUST have met first. This first meeting will help you to determine if they are compatible together and if they are going to be able to get along. How else can your dog choose their new companion if they don’t meet first?!
The first meeting should be somewhere neutral (do NOT bring them to your home as you want to avoid any territorial behaviour that could jeopardise their future happiness), and you should be looking for appropriate body language and behaviour. If you are not sure what this is, then make sure you have a professional with you who can assist. If you are getting a new puppy then a reputable breeder should be able to advise you on their interaction and if you are looking at a rescue dog, shelter staff should be on hand to watch and provide feedback on the first meeting.
If this first meeting goes well, then you are ready to bring home your new dog!
First day at home
The day has finally arrived when you are bringing your new dog home. It’s an exciting time but make sure you take the time to do it right. Undoing a bad first impression in the home can be time-consuming and stressful, so avoid the extra work by getting it right the first time.
Here’s what you do:
- Meet at a neutral place, OUTSIDE of the home,
- Go for a walk together, and let the dogs meet again while out walking,
- When you get home, enter the property at the same time!
- Let your existing dog show the new dog around the property, but make sure you SUPERVISE at all times
- Make sure that you begin teaching your new dog the house rules from day one,
- At dinnertime, feed the dogs separately to make sure there are no incidents with food aggression,
- Show your new dog where they are to sleep and where the water bowls are,
- Don’t expect things to settle down for about 24 hours.
Following these simple steps will go a long way to making the transition from a one, to two dog home, seamless.