A Message from the Vet - September 2013
A Second Dog

A client recently asked me about getting a second dog: their pet's companion had passed away, and the owner was concerned the dog might get too lonely. Their dog was so active, or anxious, it had exhibited destructive behavior that the client could not control.

"If I find another dog, how can I introduce it into my house?" Whether you want a dog for your dog's companionship, for a different personality in the house, or you just like dogs, here are some general rules that might help you bring a new one home with more success and less upset.

Which should I get: a boy or a girl? Generally, if you have a boy, it will get along better with a girl dog, and vice versa. Pick the opposite sex.

Puppy or adult? A puppy will likely learn more from an older dog than an adult, and you can use this to your advantage in training and socializing.

Getting a second dog will keep the two of them busy interacting, and can take away some of the time demanded of a busy owner by taking the attention off the owner for a while. When you get the new dog, don't deprive the old household member of attention or activity. New dogs, especially puppies can command everyone's attention, 'cause they are so darn cute!

To see if your dog will play with the new dog, introduce them to each other outside your home or yard, in neutral territory. The resident dog will not feel the need to guard its territory, or mark around the house because of a perceived intruder. When you bring the new dog home, allow them to interact. Then separate them for a while. Then bring them back together. That will moderate the interaction, and slow down the pace, in case they get over stimulated.

If your dog is dog aggressive, and does not play well with other dogs, a second dog may not work. You can test your dogs "social competence" in the first interaction away from your home. If they don't get along well at first meeting outside the home, it may get worse at home where the resident dog feels threatened. These dogs may be well socialized, but it is towards humans, not dogs. They like and need a person far more than they need another dog.

In this case, one dog at a time works best.

John Haddock, DVM

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Last updated 2014 May 10.