Ask Away...: November 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another Dog?

Ellen,
My boyfriend and I are thinking about getting a second dog. Right now we have a 1 year old black pug. Obviously you have multiple dogs, so here's a few questions:
1. How do you know when you're ready/your dog is ready for a second dog?
2. Should they meet before adoption?
3. Best way for them to meet?
4. When at home my dog doesn't get put in a crate, she has her own room, should the new dog have his own room (we do have another empty room)
And lastly What about the size difference? I don't want the new dog, who will most likely be a larger breed, to grow up and beat up my little dog! Or if we adopt an older, full grown dog, I don't want it to eat the pug. Which I guess I'll add another question. Is it better to get a puppy than adopt an older, full grown dog?
I guess I'm just asking for your story, and how you and your dog(s) handled a new dog in the house!

-Jacki

Dear Jacki:
 1.Well it’s more about how YOU are ready over anything else.  Are you ready to buy more food? Are you ready timewise for potty training? Are you ready for new vet expenses especially for spaying/neutering?  If so, GOOD! Also, I was told before I got my second Chihuahua that 2 are easier than 1, and 3 is just as easy. It was explained to me that multiple is better because they occupy each other’s time by playing, they tend to stay out of trouble more because when they are bored they will play with the other dog rather than get into mischief.  They were right, at least for me.  Yes, it’s harder to tote all 3 around when I take them somewhere but I don’t mind it at all.
2. I never had any of mine meet beforehand. Most dogs will adapt. They are pack animals.  If introduced correctly, two healthy-minded dogs should be able to get along just fine.
3.The best way for them to meet would be in neutral territory.  Some people go to a park, where the smells are neutral.  Your own backyard may already be marked by your first dog.  Some just take them to a friends house.  There are enough distractions that each dog shouldn’t be aggressive towards the other.  I have always just brought mine together in a relaxed way.  When I brought my second home, I let her roam around my room with me on the ground with her, and allowed Pixie (my first Chi) to sniff her and interact with her after my new Chi got to explore the bedroom for about 20 minutes. When you first get a new dog, in the weeks following, be sure you always feed and greet the original dog first, then greet or feed your new pup.  This prevents any jealousy issues.
4. Well you could do the room thing or you could clean up the room your dog is currently in by cleaning the carpet, cleaning the floor, vaccuming, washing all beds, blankets, etc.  So that the room is more neutral and you could allow the second dog to be in that room also but you may want to consider dividing the room with a gate or something of that sort.   When I got my pups new I had a Play pen for them in which I kept a pee pad, their bed, and a toy. This was their own little safe zone.  They also slept in here until they were housebroken. 
Regarding the size difference, honestly you should be fine.  My parents had a bull terrier (like the target dog) and she was fine with my first two Chihuahuas.  She never got to meet my third.  Dogs recognize when other dogs are puppies so I have seen many cases where they have been more gentle with the puppy but still taught it what it could and couldn’t do (snapped at puppy when puppy tried to eat from older dog’s food bowl).   If you get a new dog of a larger breed, then you shouldn’t have any problems.  The dog will start out the same size as the first dog and then as it gets older, will already learn how to interact and live with the original dog so it shouldn’t have any issues. 
When you ask about a puppy vs. an older full grown dog, you bring up a great point. You must understand that an older dog may have some issues from its earlier years.  Maybe it was neglected or abused and then ended up at a shelter.  Are you ready to take on any behavioral issues with a dog that you don’t know what it has been through?  If you have the time and energy then go ahead.  I personally like to start fresh, that’s why I get my dogs from breeders as puppies.  It takes a lot more energy but I don’t mind it.  I love watching them grow from puppies to adults!  There are TONS of dogs out there that need a home though and most shelters or organizations can provide you with enough information about the history of a dog for you to feel comfortable making a purchase.
If you pick up any reputable dog book it should thoroughly explain how to introduce your dogs. One tip that I want to stress is to just relax.  They sense when you are nervous.  If it is too hard for you to stay calm, maybe you should have another  person monitor the “meeting”. Please let me know if you have any questions along the way.  And congrats on your possible new addition!

Ellen
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