What’s better than one dog? Two dogs!
When you have two dogs, they always have a playmate. Bonds between dogs can be incredibly strong – they often mourn when their adopted siblings pass away.
Not every pairing is a match made in doggy heaven. Carefully selecting your dog’s new sibling can make it easier for both dogs to adapt and get along. You’ll also need to learn about keeping the peace in your household. With that knowledge and a little luck, your dogs will be be best friends in no time.
What’s The Best Age To Adopt?
It is not recommended to bring home littermates, as two puppies may be more likely to bond with one another than their human family members.
If your current dog is a senior with limited mobility, a high-energy puppy might not be a great choice, unless you’re certain that your old friend will get plenty of peace and quiet while you tire out the young pup.
Your second dog will pick up habits from your current dog – both good and bad. So, it makes sense to wait to adopt until your current dog is completely house-trained and has good manners.
Boy or Girl?
In a 2011 AVMA study, 79% of instances of aggression between dogs that lived together were of the same sex; 68% of cases involved 1 or 2 females. So, it seems that it would be ideal to have a male and a female or two male dogs, while having multiple females is less than ideal. Even so, this was a small study, and does not necessarily mean that you cannot possibly have a whole household full of ladies. But you may want to factor in gender when you’re choosing a new doggy housemate.
What Size Should My Next Dog Be?
Dogs of all sizes can be good friends. However, there are definitely more risks to having two dogs of drastically different sizes. Even the most gentle giant can accidentally step on their tiny friend when they’re playing. A weight difference of no more than 12 kg can prevent size-related injuries.
Bringing Home Your Second Dog
Your dogs’ first meeting should be on neutral ground. Your current dog may act out if a new dog suddenly appears on their territory. Ideally, you should go visit the shelter, breeder or foster home and take both dogs for a walk together before you make any final decisions.
Some dogs take to their new siblings right away, but it’s not unusual for there to be some tension in the beginning. If you have any doubts, use baby gates and crates to separate the dogs at first. Allow them to get used to one another’s’ scent without the risk of a physical altercation.
When you feel the time is right, let your dogs loose in a wide, open area like a fenced yard. They should have room to escape if they feel cornered or overwhelmed.
Dogs bond by exploring scents together. Surround them with lots of fun toys and engage them with activities to ease off the pressure of directly interacting with one another until they are ready.
How Dogs Communicate With One Another
Brush up on your knowledge of canine body language to help you understand how your dogs “speak” to one another.
Look for loose, happy play, and watch out for tight, stiff body language. It’s normal for dogs to be loud and growly when they play. It’s not okay for one dog to bully the other. Be ready to interrupt overzealous play by calling the dogs away from each other for a break so they can cool down.
Resource Guarding And Jealousy
Dogs do not have a strictly structured hierarchy – one dog won’t necessarily become the Alpha of the other. Hierarchy is fluid – sometimes, one dog will growl when the other comes near their bone. The other might growl when the other tries to take away their toy.
Never punish your dogs for growling at one another. This is one of their primary forms of communication. Usually, the recipient will know to back off. It’s okay to calmly call them away if they are invading their sibling’s space.
It’s best to prevent resource guarding from ever happening. If you give one dog a big, juicy bone, their sibling should get one too. They should have separate eating and sleeping areas, and separate toys.
Also, make sure to give each dog equal attention – that’s why we have two hands! Spend time together as a family, and try to make time to take each dog out individually. Joint hikes and training sessions can be fun, but you should also carve out individual time so you can bond with each dog.
What To Do If Your Dogs Can’t Get Along
Feuds between family dogs can range from mildly stressful to life-threatening. If either of your dogs’ lives are at risk, it would not be humane to keep them together. Even careful management with crates and gates can eventually backfire.
It’s perfectly normal if your dogs aren’t best friends, as long as they can live together peacefully. Not all dogs like to snuggle and play together. Dogs typically prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs.
A positive reinforcement based dog trainer can help you identify any fear or anxiety-related issues, learn your dogs’ triggers, and create a plan for managing and modifying behaviours. Aggression is often caused by fear – fear of losing resources, for example. It is possible to resolve these fears with controlled behaviour modification, but this should only be done with the help of a trainer – sometimes, misguided efforts at fixing behaviours can actually make them worse.
If you need help keeping the peace in your multi-dog household, contact Healthy Houndz today for progressive dog training in Toronto and North York.