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Is it better to have two dogs?

There are many benefits to bringing a second pup home to keep your old dog company, but there are still certain considerations that you should keep in mind. Is it better to have two dogs? Our Westfield veterinarians answer this question and offer advice to make introductions a success.

Is it better to have one or two dogs?

Dogs love to socialize! It's in their nature, which can lead you to wonder if it's better to get another dog so you have two.

Our vets at Westfield Animal Hospital share some of the reasons why it's better to have two dogs:

  • They can keep each other company
  • Both dogs will be able to entertain each other and get exercise together
  • Your older dog could help you train a new puppy
  • When the dogs have each other, it can help ease separation anxiety
  • You will have two adorable dogs to love

Consider adding a second dog to provide companionship for your first dog, but be aware that it may not be a seamless transition initially. Your first dog may not appreciate sharing their space or toys. In the following section, we will explore key factors to keep in mind when introducing a second dog and strategies for ensuring a harmonious transition for all involved.

How will your current dog feel?

When you add a new dog to your home it can make your old dog feel a little put off. Although most dogs will establish good relationships with their new sibling, your first dog might not appreciate having to divide their toys, territory, space, or even their owner's attention. Therefore, it's crucial to be well-prepared and conduct thorough research before welcoming a second dog into your home.

What kind of dog should you get?

When getting another pup, it's important to determine which type of dog will be best for your current dog and your family's lifestyle. For this reason, you need to make sure you are doing more than just checking off a couple of mental boxes. You need to consider factors such as:

  • What size of dog will work best for you and your family?
  • Can your home fit a second dog?
  • Will you have time to play with and care for another dog?
  • What are the exercise needs of your old dog and new dog?
  • Can you afford to take care of a second dog?
  • Will your current dog be able to interact with a puppy, or will an older, more calm dog be best?

Once you've considered these points you will be able to go out and find the dog that suits your family and needs.

How can you help your old dog and new dog get along?

If you've determined that it's time to add a second dog to your household, you can take steps to simplify the process and promote a smooth integration between your two dogs.

Talk to Your Family About Getting a Second Dog

Deciding to bring a new dog into your home should be a thoughtful process that involves consulting everyone in your household about their thoughts on the matter and ensuring that it aligns with the needs of all, including your current dog. Consider your current dog's age, physical capabilities, and personality when deciding whether to welcome a new pet.

Go Meet Your New Dog Without Your Old One

We don't recommend bringing your current dog with you when you are going to pick out your new furry companion. Your dog may distract you when you are trying to make your choice, and the car ride could become very intense.

It's Better to Introduce Dog One to Dog Two on Neutral Ground

When it's time for your two dogs to meet, take them to a neutral location to reduce the chances of territorial aggression. You can ask a friend or family member to bring your current dog to a calm park or open area, and you can join them with your new pup. If you already have multiple dogs, you may require additional assistance or need to keep them all on leashes.

Help the Two Dogs Remain Calm During Introductions

Ensure you maintain complete control of the dogs while holding their leash loosely enough to avoid making them feel restricted.

Give Both Dogs Time & Space to Get to Know Each Other

Dogs typically circle and sniff each other when they meet. To maintain a positive encounter, use a pleasant tone when communicating with them. Keep an eye out for signs of aggression, and step in as needed by redirecting their attention. If the dogs begin to growl or snarl, avoid scolding them, as this may lead them to suppress their emotions when you're around. The goal is for them to establish a safe and equitable social hierarchy, even in your absence.

If your dogs are ignoring each other, that's perfectly fine. Don't compel them to interact, as they will get to know each other at their own pace.

Time to Bring Your Two Dogs Home

Once your dogs have met each other and are not showing any negative behaviors, you can bring them home to get settled.

Keep in mind that the two dogs will form a hierarchy, where your first dog will typically take the position of alpha. For this reason, you should bring your current dog into the home first and have the person helping you walk your new dog on their leash. This allows your original dog to invite your new pup into their domain.

Don't Give Them Opportunities to Disagree

Make sure each dog has their own food dish, water bowl, and bed. After mealtimes, pick up the food bowls to reduce the risk of food aggression. However, you can leave the water bowls out. 

Also, remember to pick up your first dog's favorite toys and items to limit conflict while the new relationship develops. Once you are certain the dogs are getting along, you may give them their favorite toys back. 

Always Watch Over Playtime

We strongly suggest keeping both dogs apart when you're not at home. When it's time for them to play together, make sure to supervise them closely. It's important to praise them as they display positive behaviors.

Dedicating daily quality one-on-one time to each dog to strengthen your bond with them is essential.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you think it's time to add a second dog to your home? Contact our Westfield vets today if you have further questions and to schedule their first exam.

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Looking for a vet in Westfield? Our vets at Westfield Animal Hospital are now accepting new patients! Our friendly and welcoming vets love providing cats, dogs, and exotic pets with high-quality veterinary care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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