There are a lot of people contemplating adding a second dog. We get some form of this question all the time. Getting a second dog is a huge responsibility. We did a blog post on why we decided to get a second dog a while ago. But a few weeks ago, I got an email from a follower asking us to elaborate more on how we handled having a second dog in the early stages.
It’s been a year since we got Winky, our second dog, a cavoodle, just like Ollie. So we thought it’s a good time to tell you about how we introduced Ollie and Winky and share our experience of having a second dog.
- Supervise playtime with he second dog
- Plan ahead for the second dog even before they come home!
- How to introduce your second dog to your first dog
- What if the new puppy don’t get along with your first dog?
- Concluding remarks
Plan ahead for the second dog even before they come home!
Once you’ve decided on getting another dog, planning has to start before they even come home. We had the idea of having a second dog for a while. But we waited until Ollie was about two years old before getting Winky. We were fortunate enough to know Winky’s breeder personally so we could plan well ahead of her arrival. Here are a few things we did that might help you.
Temperament – This is one of the most crucial factors to consider. Just like humans, dogs have personalities and behaviours that can differ widely from one another. It’s essential to take your first dog’s personality into account when choosing the new dog. It’s important that both dogs can get along and enjoy each other’s company without one dog overwhelming or intimidating the other. Introducing a new dog can be a significant change for the first dog. So choosing a good match can make the transition much smoother.
Smell – Dogs rely heavily on smell to interpret the world around them. Familiarising the smell of a new puppy ahead of time can lead to a smooth transition when the puppy arrives. Whenever visiting the puppy, make sure to bring a blanket or even your own clothing items with the puppy’s scent on them. Leave it where your first dog can investigate it. This can help your dog get used to the new scent and reduce any potential anxiety or territorial behaviour when the puppy arrives.
Vaccinations and Medical Check – Puppies are easily susceptible to illnesses and diseases. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your first dog and puppy are both appropriately vaccinated. A medical checkup can help detect any underlying health issues that could affect your dog’s ability to interact with a new puppy or vice versa. For example, if your dog has a chronic illness or a mobility issue, introducing a high-energy puppy may not be the best choice. It’s always best to consult your vet to determine the appropriate vaccinations and medical checkups before introducing the new puppy.
Should you get two dogs at the same time?
While the idea of getting two puppies at once might seem appealing, it’s essential to take caution before making this decision. Raising two puppies at the same time can be challenging and requires a lot of time, effort, and patience, which can be overwhelming for many. It is also essential to consider the financial aspect of raising two puppies, including the cost of food, vaccinations, and veterinary bills. We have a blog post discussing the cost of raising two dogs and a puppy checklist for you to get an idea about some of the costs involved.
Littermate Syndrome - When two puppies are brought up together, there is a higher risk of developing Littermate Syndrome, where the puppies bond more with each other than with their owner. This can make training and socialisation more challenging and lead to behavioural issues. Littermate Syndrome is not limited to biological littermates; it can also occur when two puppies are brought home around the same time, regardless of whether they are biologically related or not.
While having two puppies simultaneously can be cuteness overload, it is not recommended as it can strain everyone involved and, most of the time, lead to issues such as littermate syndrome. If you do decide to have two puppies at the same time, make sure that you have the necessary experience and support from professionals such as your vet and behavioural specialists to avoid Littermate Syndrome and ensure that both puppies develop into happy, healthy, and well-behaved, well-adjusted dogs.
How to introduce your second dog to your first dog
Now that you’ve planned ahead, it is finally the gotcha day of your new puppy. But your work is not done yet. You must consider how you’d introduce your puppy to your first dog and ease their transition to the new environment. We had a separate playpen set up for Winky for about six months, and we slowly transitioned her to be in other areas of the house. This helped Ollie to get used to having Winky around. We also used this space to do training with Winky. She could develop her own personality and learn things at her own pace. We also didn’t have to worry about Ollie picking up signals from Winky’s accidents.
Introduce on neutral grounds
Choosing a location outside of your home where neither dog has established territorial ownership can help prevent any potential territorial behaviour from either dog. It can help both dogs feel more relaxed and comfortable and help establish a positive first impression, as there’s no need to defend their space. Let them sniff each other and get to know each other in their own way. Do not try to force interactions.
It’s essential that your new puppy has separate areas for food, toys, playtime, and sleeping areas from your first dog. This helps establish boundaries and reduces the likelihood of any aggressive or competitive behaviours between the dogs. By having separate areas, each dog can have their space, reduce tension and create a more positive environment for both dogs.
Separate food and water bowls can ensure each dog gets the appropriate amount and type of food ( your older dog shouldn’t eat puppy food and vice versa) and prevent any food aggression issues. Separate walks, playtime and sleep areas will give security to your first dog so that they are still very much loved. This will also help to stop your puppy from becoming overly dependent on your first dog and learning things on their own.
Supervise playtime with he second dog
Even if both dogs may appear friendly and playful, they might not know each other’s limits. This can lead to potential accidents or injuries. A little rough play is ok. However, puppies can be a bit much. I remember Winky constantly chewing Ollie’s ear for about three months and annoying him endlessly. So let your older dog say no. Puppies understand each other’s language. But also make sure to be there to interrupt any play that might seem to escalate so you can avoid any potential undesired behaviour or rough play. You can also reward any positive interactions to encourage healthy relationships.
What if the new puppy don’t get along with your first dog?
Remember that it is OK if your two dogs aren’t best friends at first. Winky was smitten with Ollie from the day she came home. Ollie took a while to warm up to her. I did worry and question my decision to get a second dog. Which is quite normal. It is important to be patient and give them their space to get to know each other. Ensuring that your first dog feels secure and loving and giving them the same attention as before will help to avoid territorial behaviours.
If you notice any aggressive or territorial behaviours, please interrupt before they become severe. Talk to an animal behaviour specialist and seek help where needed. Be prepared to spend the necessary time, money and extra effort if needed. However, planning ahead and following the steps mentioned above when introducing your new dog can help avoid many of these issues.
Adding a second dog can be a beautiful thing and can be beneficial in a multitude of ways. We’ve noticed so many positive changes in Ollie and our life. We can not imagine a life without either of them. But it should be done with a lot of careful consideration.
I hope you find this article helpful when adding a new puppy to your home. We also have blog posts on why we decided to get a second dog, puppy checklist, desexing, the cost of owning two dogs and many other useful topics on our blog. So you can make an informed decision. Comment below if you have questions and don’t forget to subscribe!