Adopting a Second Dog into the Home

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. April 19, 2021
Adopting a Second Dog into the Home

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There are many reasons you may want to adopt a second dog into the home, not least the fact it can bring twice as much joy to the family. While getting a second dog can be great for many in said family, it is vital the original dog will be amenable to the plan. Some people make the addition because they want company for their canine friend, but there are few guarantees with two dogs coexisting. A well-socialized dog should be happy to have another companion, but there are many exceptions.

At AnimalWised, we explain everything you need to consider when adopting a second dog into the home. We show you how to introduce the new dog and what you can do to ensure they have a happy life together.

You may also be interested in: 10 Reasons to Adopt a Stray Dog

Is your dog likely to accept a new family member?

To know what type of dog you can adopt, you will need to asses your current dog's personality and behavior. If you have a dog which is emotionally available to new people and animals, they may suit a larger family well. However, if you have a dog which is possessive, jealous or even aggressive around other dogs, it may not be a good idea.

When taking your dog for a walk, you will need to see how they interact with other dogs. You can even bring some friends round to the home who have dogs. This way you can see how to dog will behave when they are on their territory.

Dogs will need to get to know other animals gently and carefully. Always do this in a gradual process, little by little letting them sniff each other out. You don't want to pressure them when you are asking them to share their personal space.

Think about your dog's personality and how they relate to other dogs. If they are very active, it doesn't necessarily mean you will need to get another active dog. It will mean you will need to adopt a second dog which is able to tolerate the high energy of a hyperactive dog. If you current dog is quiet, then you will likely not want to get a dog which will cause much disruption in their life.

You can do some research into breeds and see if there might be one which is known to be suited to a type of family. However, don't think that breed alone will make a difference. Each dog is an individual and adopting mixed-breed dogs can be the perfect addition to any family.

Adopting a Second Dog into the Home - Is your dog likely to accept a new family member?

Cuando ya has seleccionado al indicado

When you think you have found the perfect match for your current canine, you will need to think about how to introduce them. To reduce the possibility of any problems, you should introduce them on neutral territory, i.e. away from the home. Keep them on leash, using the leash to restrain them if necessary. A park is a good place to do it, especially if they have experience meeting other dogs there already.

When you get to your chosen area, let the dogs look at each other, but don't let them approach just yet. After a few minutes, walk one dog behind the other to let them naturally get used to each other's presence. Keep them separated by a distance of about 2 meters. While they are separated, you can give them a toy which belongs to the other dog so they can get used to their smell.

Increase interaction

Everything must be progressive. The next day or the same day, depending on your dog's sociability levels, repeat the above interaction. If you see that an anxious environment has not been created, you can proceed to bring them a little closer together.

Ideally, you will be somewhere as open as possible, another reason a park is so ideal. This will prevent both dogs from feeling trapped or cornered and will encourage natural behavior. You may want to purchase a retractable dog leash which will allow them to go a little further while still offering restraint. If you notice they are totally calm with the whole situation, you can release them but stay very close. Let them sniff each other for a few minutes and then divert their attention to a toy or other positive stimulus.

If all goes well and the dogs start to play, let them play for a while. However, from time to time, redirect their attention to other activities, such as continuing the walk and playing chase after them. The purpose here is to make interactions in neutral spaces begin and end in a totally positive way.

Adopting a Second Dog into the Home - Increase interaction

Time to bring them home

Now it is time to bring them home. Remember that the first contact here will set a tone for the rest of the relationship. Before bringing the two dogs into the home, let them play outside together for a time. If you see that everything is going well, open the door and let them enter (or take them up to the apartment). Let the new dog sniff and smell everything, but keep them accompanied closely.

Allow interaction between the two dogs, but keep it short and positive. We want to prevent these interactions from becoming too long or too intense. If there are any signs of tension, push them away and try again later. Never pressure either dog to be compulsorily accepted.

Don't forget that you must have a second food dish, a second bed and even new toys prepared so that there can be no conflicts between one and the other. If the original dog sees the new dog taking their toys or other resources, they may become insecure as they fear their care needs are being taken away. This is one of the common reasons for possessiveness in dogs.

Adopting a Second Dog into the Home - Time to bring them home

When you are not at home

When you first need to leave the home after getting a second dog, you will need to ensure they are safe. Since our home is now a shared territory, we will need to provide them with separate spaces.Create an area each with their toys, bed and any other cherished accessories. This will help to prevent fighting in your absence and reduce negative behaviors.

When you get home, bring them both close and spend some quality time together. It is important to know that while a ‘new’ dog in the family represents company for the ‘old’ dog, it is by no means a substitute for your presence and affection.

Has it worked?

To know if the introduction has gone well and the dogs are used to each other's presence, you will need to observe them closely. Obviously, if the dogs are fighting, continuously barking or showing other signs of aggression, then they will need more time and training. Keep an eye on the anxiety levels of each dog and look for signs of stress. However, if they interact well and, especially, if they play together, it will mean your dog has accepted their new friend.

Adopting a Second Dog into the Home - Has it worked?

Other tips for getting a second dog

  • Match personalities: if your dog is old and calm, do not bring home a hyperactive dog. Look for one with a calm character like theirs. We must try to make both dogs feel as comfortable as possible.
  • Basic care needs: we don't just mean toys, beds, food bowls, etc. We also mean your presence. Both dogs will need their practical accessories and care needs so they don't have to be jealous of the other. They will also need you to show they equal affection, ensuring neither is left out.
  • Body language: be aware of body language and watch out for signals that are emitted between them, but don't overwhelm or force them to interact. A growl or snap may be a simple way to get one dog to leave the other alone, it doesn't necessarily mean they are aggressive,
  • Avoid jealousy: make sure to give each one your personal attention and at the same time your group attention.

Do not forget that conflicts can arise. For this reason, before adopting your dog, assess whether you are prepared to assume an yextra expense in the event that you have to contact an ethologist or canine educator.

If you want to read similar articles to Adopting a Second Dog into the Home, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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