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.