A new addition requires careful planning, consideration and supervision.
I bought a new puppy this spring! Feel free to send gifts to the CKC head office and they will forward them over to me (just kidding). I had been planning on getting a second dog for years. I’m the kind of person who really looks before he leaps, sometimes this is a good quality to have, and at other times it’s exhausting.
I have loved the unique look of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier since I was a child. Like most people, I had never seen one in real life so I was extremely excited when I was assisting Canine Good Neighbour evaluations in the spring of 2016 and our booth was set up next to a famous Canadian judge and Dandie breeder. I fell in love with her Dandies’ sweet personalities and the way their unique, non-shedding coat felt to the touch. I also loved the idea of owning such a rare breed as well, getting to teach the public about them and their charm.
I became friends with and kept in touch with that Dandie breeder. This spring, she wrote to tell me she had not one, but two litters on the ground and invited me over to meet them. As soon as she placed a pepper coloured male in my arms, well that was that! I picked “Leroy” up the following week when he was 12 weeks old.
I had a week to prepare my home and my Standard Poodle “Measha” for the arrival of our new pack member.
Disclaimer: I am not a dog trainer nor am I a behaviourist. This blog tells the story of how I added a second dog to my home. Every situation is different and you are the one who knows your current dog best.
I have always seen several advantages in owning two dogs. Dogs are pack animals and are less lonely when there’s another pack member around. Dogs who live in pairs generally play little games together and live a more active life as a result. Dogs who live in pairs work together as a watchdog team and monitor your home and/or property more efficiently. Housebreaking is generally easier when you have an older dog as the situation usually goes “puppy see, puppy do”. And finally, you as the owner get more love, more cuddles and can compete in more events together.
I can’t list the advantages without the disadvantages, can I? More dogs equals more money. Money being spent on food, toys, grooming, dog walkers, trips to the veterinarian – you name it – double it. If you had the foresight to save your current dog’s puppy collars, crate, lead and some of her toys, then you will be ahead of others bringing home a second dog. Don’t worry your new pup will never know he has a hand me down crate!
There’s also twice the amount of time spent caring for dogs, although you could argue that some of the time could be shared (like walks, cuddles, playing games), and twice the amount of time spent grooming, cleaning and picking up after them. In my experience, there’s also twice the noise! My Standard Poodle barely barked before my Dandie Dinmont Terrier pup came home and now it’s like she’s showing him how to use his little voice (or letting the whole neighbourhood know she’s got a new brother).
Assess yourself and your current dog
The truth is, puppies require a lot of your time and a lot of your money. Consider your current work, personal and financial situation before committing to bringing home another dog.
Before deciding to bring in a second dog, it is important to strongly consider the dog you already have. Is she generally friendly towards other dogs and puppies? Have you had other dogs in your home and was she welcoming? It’s incredibly important to make sure your current dog is social with other dogs. If she isn’t you might want to reconsider bringing a second dog in and focus on working with a professional trainer to improve her manners towards other dogs.
Apart from social skills, it’s best to make sure your current dog doesn’t have any behavioural issues before bringing in a second dog. Sometimes bringing in another dog will result in the puppy picking up on the behaviour and then you will have two dogs acting out, driving you crazy and embarrassing you while out on walks. Work with a trainer and/or a behaviourist to fix or redirect bad habits your current dog has before adding to the pack.
I must say that I have seen dogs with separation anxiety improve greatly with the addition of a four-legged roommate. I have also seen a situation where the owner then had to deal with two dogs with separation anxiety. So, in my opinion, addressing behaviour issues before introducing a second dog is best.
Picking the New Puppy
There are several factors to consider when deciding to add a new puppy to your home.
Which breed you bring into your pack takes a lot of thought. Many owners will bring in a second dog of the same breed. This generally works out well as the two will end up the same size, have the same exercise and grooming needs, and the owners will know what to expect.
If you go with a different breed (as I did), it’s best to match your current dog with a breed of similar activity level. I’m not saying that a Pekingese and a Pointer can’t be friends, they just might not have the same idea of what an awesome weekend is.
Age is another factor to consider. Generally it is easier to introduce a new puppy into a home with a younger dog as opposed to a senior dog. By younger, I mean an adult dog who is housebroken. There’s nothing really wrong with getting a puppy while you have an older puppy around, I just think you might go a bit mad having to housebreak two puppies at two different stages. As older dogs get set in their ways, it can be difficult to introduce the new puppy to your pack however, it can be done. Many believe a new puppy will give an older dog a pep in his step. Others believe it will be too stressful. You know your dog best so make your choice while keeping your current dog’s best interests at heart.
Preparing for the new puppy
I set up Leroy’s exercise pen, crate and brought in his toys a few days before he arrived. This helped my older dog get ready for his arrival as she could check out the new toys, smells and furniture layout. If you can, get an article (towel, T-shirt, toy) with the new puppy’s scent on it – as this will familiarize your current dog with the new puppy before they even arrive home. If you are visiting the breeder often enough and can swap items with your current dog’s scent on it as well as the puppy’s scent – even better.
Introducing the new puppy
You may think it’s a good idea to bring your current dog over to the breeder’s house while picking up your new puppy but unless the breeder has specifically asked you to do so I wouldn’t recommend that. Your breeder has her own dogs on site as well as young puppies who could get sick from an outsider.
It’s best to introduce your current dog to the new pup on neutral ground, like a park or your backyard, while keeping them both on leashes. I got my brother to come with me to pick up my new puppy. When we arrived back in Toronto, I had him wait with Leroy at a nearby park and I grabbed Measha and we walked over to meet them. They both did a little sniffing for a while and then I picked up Leroy and brought him home with us.
Just as you would never leave your dog with a child unsupervised, you must never leave your older dog with a puppy unsupervised. Watch all interactions. I had to keep in mind that dogs talk their own language and that not every growl, snap and bark was a fight. It was just the two of them figuring out their dynamic. This is why supervision is so important. If any growl or snarl gets too intense, I can step in quickly as I’m never more than a few feet away from them. If you feel your older dog is getting fed up, take the pup to another room or outdoors to play or go for a walk and explore. It’s also very important to praise your older dog for playing nicely and tolerating the new puppy.
Before bringing in a new puppy, many of us expect to have to “play ref” in order to make sure the older dog isn’t being too rough with his new housemate, but the opposite is also true. Puppies tend to love biting and tugging on older dogs’ ankles and ears, so you will also have to monitor how rowdy the puppy is being with your older dog.
This is another one of the thousand reasons I recommend getting an exercise pen. An exercise pen can hold your puppy, his crate, his dishes and toys while he safely enjoys himself. I put Leroy in the “ex pen” whenever I can’t give him my full attention. I have the exercise pen in the common area of my home so he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on any of the action.
Puppies need tons of sleep and will rarely go to bed by themselves if there’s another dog around as they get “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so it is important to keep track of your puppy’s naps and know when it’s time to put him in his crate to rest.
Feeding and Resource guarding
I also feed my puppy in his exercise pen as this keeps him eating his food and my older dog eating her food (they are both very interested in each other’s food). It can also eliminate the possibility of a fight.
My dogs don’t get too heated over each other’s toys and share nicely, but I do keep the puppy’s teething toys in his crate as they are too small and delicate for my older dog.
A bit of resource guarding between two dogs is natural. However, many puppies don’t pick up on the initial cues telling him to back away so it is important to keep a close eye on all interactions to make sure they don’t escalate. Depending on the size and age of your puppy and adult dog, I would give high value treats to the dogs while they are in separate quarters or divided by the exercise pen. I would also make sure the treat is gone or put away before I let them out together again.
Fun with the new puppy
A key element to easing any jealously between your older dog and your new puppy is to make interactions with the puppy fun. If the puppy is out – the older dog is included and praised enormously so that it’s a good time for her.
Measha loves getting real easy treats while we all practice “sit” and “stand”. I always bring a new toy home for her when the puppy gets one and we all go on walks together. As I encourage the little one to walk on the leash, I praise her for doing it so well.
Spreading the Love
I know that time is tight for all of us, but when you bring in a second dog it is crucial to make special one on one time for both dogs. I make a point to take both dogs on their own walks every day, I groom each dog on the table and I make sure to cuddle them both separately on the couch as well as together.
I’ve had my Dandie puppy for a month now and everything seems to be going well. Although I’m sleeping less and spending more, my heart is full and I’m very happy that I got my second dog. With some planning, research and with the help of a great breeder, I hope you too can double the doggy love in your home.
German Shorthair Pointer pictures by Jackiy Boychuck