Are You Adding a Second Dog to the Family?

Are you adding a second dog to your family? I ask because, for the past two weeks, my dog Cooper and I have played host to Cooper’s twin brother Max, while his owner has been out of town. As litter mates, Cooper and Max need no introduction when they get together. But what about adding a second dog completely unfamiliar to the first dog? How will pack membership change the dynamics of each “only” dog?  

Dog lovers like you and I agree, one dog is never enough. It’s no surprise you’ve decided to bring home yet another one. However, you may be anxious about introducing this new foundling to your first dog. But lucky for you: Here are five foolproof tips to get you through this potential nail-biting stage and to (hopefully) make your two little critters the best of friends! 

1. Familiarize the Second Dog  

Choose the room you are going to introduce the dogs in. It may be the living room, the kitchen, anywhere that is not too confined. Before the meeting, make sure the new dog becomes familiar with this room in particular so that when you introduce them they do not have to adapt to both the new room and the new roomie. Both of these things can be scary and overwhelming, especially for puppies.

2. Adding a Second Dog Smell

The part of a dog’s brain responsible for analyzing smells is up to 40 times larger than that of a human. Dogs navigate and interpret the world by scent (hence, the butt-sniffing!) so it can be crucial to introduce the scent of both dogs to one another before the meeting. This could mean providing them with toys that hold the scent of the other pup, or switching their beds. When the two finally come together, the new smells won’t be such a shock.

3. Introduce Them With a Barrier 

When adding a second dog, if you worry that the two dogs may not get along (maybe your original pup isn’t so fond of this new interloper), it may be best to introduce the pair between a barrier such as a glass wall or temporary fence. This will prevent any physical contact and allow each of them to become aware of the new two-dog household.  

4. The Introduction  

It is vital that each dog is kept on an individual leash to prevent any potential hostility. It is also essential to read the situation: if things are looking good and both of the dogs’ body language appear confident, it should be fine to accelerate the process by removing the leashes. If things don’t go so well when adding a second dog, take things slower and keep the leashes on. After all, you know your dogs best.  

5. Maintain Space 

It’s crucial that the dogs get some space away from each other while still getting to know one another. You can achieve this by sectioning parts of your home and sequestering each of them for a portion of each day. You should also monitor their interactions for the first 24 to 48 hours just to be safe.

I hope these tips have given you some guidance when adding a second dog to your home. Most of the time, things go smoothly and you will see your two fluffy friends galloping around together as if they too were litter mates, like my two. 

P.S. Please do the right thing and adopt an orphan dog or cat from your local shelter, or go to Best Friends Animal Society.

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