Introducing the Second Dog

Adopting a second dog can provide added companionship for your current canine and can provide you with another family member to love. Making the right introductions can reduce friction and conflict when adding an additional pet and can ensure a greater degree of peace and harmony within your home. Here are some tips for integrating a new dog into your family successfully.

Do a Little Matchmaking

Before adopting a new dog, consider the habits, age and behavior of your current pet. If your dog is a couch potato and enjoys long, lazy naps on the sofa, a high-energy puppy may be a source of stress for your current pet. Confident and dominant pets usually do better with less dominant additions to the family; two dominant dogs can quickly become embroiled in a power struggle with your home as the battlefield. Shy, less confident dogs typically do better with pets only slightly more dominant than themselves. By choosing a pet with complementary traits to your current dog, you can increase your chances of success in making a winning match.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Ready

Most pet behaviorists recommend that you wait at least one full year after adopting your first dog before looking for a playmate. Dogs require an extended period of adjustment to new surroundings and need time to bond with their owners before bringing in an added pet to compete for time and affection. Additionally, if your pet has significant behavioral issues, you will want to get these resolved before adding another dog into the mix.

Ease Into Things

If possible, introduce your dog to the prospective addition in a neutral setting. A local dog park can allow you to let the two animals meet and get to know each other without creating territorial issues. It is usually best to assign one handler for each dog; this ensures that both animals are under control during their first and subsequent meetings. If all goes well at these initial introductions, you can bring your new family member home to continue the process there.

Separate Areas

During the first week or two, most trainers recommend separating the two dogs with baby gates or see-through barricades and feeding them twice a day within sight of each other. This will help them become accustomed to each other and will provide them with positive reinforcement during their brief interactions. By linking the presence of the other dog with food, you can reduce the potential for food aggression and can help the two dogs become friendly more gradually. Over time, you can remove the baby gates and monitor the interactions between your two dogs. In most cases, dogs introduced gradually and thoughtfully can become the best of friends.

Once your two pets have adjusted to each other, allowing them to share the daily walk can provide them with added bonding time and can allow you to participate in their continued socialization. Walks are a critical part of the training process and can bring you and your pets closer together as an integrated family unit.

Choosing the Perfect Pet

If you are considering adopting an animal companion, you may already have definite ideas about what type of pet you and your family want. Assessing your current living situation and the amount of time and effort you can afford to spend on your new pet, however, can help you to avoid making an impractical choice for your family and your lifestyle. Here are some points to consider before making that trip to the pet store or animal shelter.

Dogs

Depending on your preferences, you may be thinking of adopting a puppy or an adult dog from a local shelter or buying one from a responsible breeder. Dogs at any age require a great deal of attention, training and exercise to stay healthy and happy. However, certain advantages and drawbacks may make an older dog or a puppy more attractive and appropriate for your particular situation:

  • Puppies require constant attention and training to ensure proper socialization. They also must be housebroken to reduce the chance of accidents inside the home. Consistent and repeated effort is required to ensure the success of the house-training process.
  • Some older dogs may have been in an abusive environment in the past. Because aggressive and unfriendly dogs are usually weeded out of the shelter system, however, most pets in these facilities are well suited to family life. In most cases, older dogs are house trained and many co-exist well with cats and other animals, making them a safer and more compassionate choice for many families.

Before adopting a dog, take a hard look at your current schedule. If you cannot fit regular walks and training sessions into your daily routine, you are probably not ready for the long-term commitment of dog ownership.

Cats

Cats are an ideal pet for apartment dwellers and others who may not have a great deal of time to spend with a pet during the day. Cats still require a good deal of love and exercise, however. A vigorous play session each morning and evening can usually help even the most active cats expend their energy in a healthy way. Most cats learn to use the litter box and to socialize appropriately from their mothers and siblings. It is important not to remove kittens from their mothers until after eight weeks of age. Kittens that are rehomed at too young an age may exhibit inappropriate behavior and may require added training and socialization throughout their lives.

Fish

Fish can provide hours of enjoyment for their owners with a minimal but correct amount of care for their environments. Salt-water tanks may require added attention on the part of owners to ensure the proper pH levels and temperature for tropical fish.
Considering your current lifestyle and your available free time can help you select a suitable pet for yourself and your family. A little due diligence before you adopt can ensure the right fit for a lifetime of happy pet ownership.