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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Getting a Second Dog

My little dog seems so lonely.  I just hate leaving him home alone when I go do work.  I am thinking about getting a “little friend” for him.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? 



As Dog Trainers, we are asked this question from time to time.  Our clients have to leave their dog home alone while they are at work or their dog seems to show signs of separation anxiety or they think that a second dog will be a good “play buddy” for their current dog.  These are some of the thoughts that go through our clients’ heads and there are a lot more, for sure. The honest answer is that you never completely know what will happen when you bring an additional dog into your family.

My Dog is Lonely:
The idea that a dog is naturally “lonely” when he is left by himself all day is not correct.  Most dogs sleep most of the day while you are at work.  Why do you think they are fully adrenalized and ready to “rock and roll” when you open the door at night?  You have just woken them up and they are now ready to play. 

My Dog has Separation Anxiety:
If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, a second dog is normally not the answer.  Separation anxiety, normally shown through destruction, defecation, and persistent barking; is caused by an issue between you and your dog.  You have not established the appropriate bond between you and your dog and your dog is trying to get to you or call you back.  This can easily be resolved through proper behavioral training and does not require the addition of a second dog.

My Dog Needs to be Socialized with Other Dogs:
If you believe that a second dog will help with your dog’s socialization skills, you don’t need to bring a new dog into the pack.  Think about taking your dog to a doggie day care a few times a week.  If you have some neighbors with nice dogs, arrange some play dates in a neutral area. 

If our client still really wants to get a second dog because they are “sure that the new dog will be great for the current one”, we ask them a very simple question:

Are you prepared to take care of another dog, period

Getting a second dog can’t be done to simply solve a perceived problem.  What if getting the second dog doesn’t solve the problem?  What then? 

Let’s say that they have assured me that they really want a second dog and will do whatever is necessary to make sure that both will feel happy and safe in their family.  No matter what it takes, they will be the “diligent parents”.

With that said, I council them on the appropriate method to pick and introduce a new dog into their family:
  • Check Rescue Groups and the Local Humane Society for dogs you like.  Try and find a “middle of the pack” dog.  This is a dog that doesn’t run at you instantly when you approach the cage or their area.  This dog also won’t stay in the back of the cage or area.  This dog will respond when you address them and will come over to you in a calm and polite manner.  This is important when you introduce this dog to your current dog.
  • Have the two dogs meet in a neutral area.  Many groups and Humane Societies have fenced in areas that are used for this purpose.  You can also use a neighbor’s fenced in back yard if that neighbor does not have any pets. 
  • Have both dogs on leashes and bring them into the area from different locations.  Walk them around the area while slowly approaching each other.
  • Bring them to about eight feet from each other and have both sit.  Once both display submissive body language, allow them to approach each other.   Do not force them.  Let them sniff each other for a few moments and then separate them and have them sit again.
  • If all is still going well, walk them around the area again for a few minutes.  Have them sit and then release the leashes.  If either dog shows aggression towards the other, quickly step on the leashes and separate them.
  • Continue to let them interact, watching closely for any signs of aggression of fearfulness.  If they eventually lie down and show passive tendencies towards each other, you may have a good match.
  • Continue the introduction at your home.  Have both dogs meet on your front lawn.  Have them leashed and walk them around for a moment or two.  Now, allow them to approach and sniff.  Continue this for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Take your dog into the house and have him sit in an area away from the front door but with a view of the front door.  Bring the new dog into the house but do not walk directly towards your dog.
  • Allow both dogs to sniff if they want. 
  • Sit on the sofa with the dogs at opposite ends.  Still have them on their leashes and have them sitting or lying down.  After a few minutes, let the leashes go but do not remove them.
  • Get up from the sofa and quietly walk around the room but never leave the room. 

There still is never an air tight guarantee that the two dogs will be “best buddies”, but you have done everything possible to properly introduce and jointly socialize them.  If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers inSouthern Florida.

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