Tips for Adding Another Dog to Your Family

Chassen and Terrance snuggle with their new sister, Ava, adopted from Wayside on 1/17/10

Chassen and Terrance snuggle with their new sister, Ava, adopted from Wayside on 1/17/10

Adding another four-legged friend to the family can be intimidating but people who live with more than one dog often say they wouldn’t have it any other way.  Dogs can play and interact with each other in ways we never could.  Let’s face it, most of us live pretty hectic lives and many of our dogs spend long hours alone, waiting for us.  Another dog can provide companionship to our beloved, not to mention the joy that will fill your heart when you watch your dogs play.  There are a few things to consider before you make the decision to add your family.

1.  How well trained are your dogs?  Rarely is it a good idea to bring in a new dog when you are dealing with behavior issues in your current dogs.

2. How well socialized is your dog?  Dogs that can go to off leash play areas and do well with guest dogs in their homes are usually good candidates for a new friend.

3.  What are the ages of the dogs in your family?  Dogs closer in age usually have play styles and play stamina that match.  Bringing in a puppy with an older dog can give the older dog a spark but it can also be a burden.

4.  Are you willing to make necessary adjustments to accommodate your new addition?  These may include separate feeding areas, separate training times an separate play times.

5.  Are you willing to do everything you can to make this new match work?  Build your confidence before you adopt by researching breeds, finding out about local training classes and making sure you know how to handle any difficult situations that may arise.

Once you have decided a new addition is the right thing for your family, you’ll need to do a little planning to make it work.

1. Bring your dog to Wayside Waifs so that he or she can meet the new family member on neutral ground.

2. Keep the two dogs separated in the car.  Bring a friend of family member to help you transport.

3.  Take your two (or more) dogs for a long walk together before going in the house.

4.  If either dog shows signs of bring uncomfortable (hair standing up, teeth bared, growling) separate the dogs.  Keep encounters short and positive.

5.  Feed separately for the first couple of days.  Each dog should have his own food and water dish.  As they progress, try basic training with both dogs at the same time.  This can be a great way for all of you to bond.

6.  Reassure your resident dog(s) by giving them individual attention.

These wonderful relationships are rewarding to both us and our dogs.  Do your research before you adopt, talk to your veterinarian and use your local shelter as a resource.  After watching your dogs exchange a few play bows, a couple of games of chase and a good snuggle, you’ll be glad you did!

Ava and Terrance are best friends forever!

Ava and Terrance are best friends forever!

Written by Barbara Poe
Adoptions Program Manager at Wayside Waifs

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