Adding A Second Dog To The Family

Adding A Second Dog To The Family

It has been a few years since our Gracie passed away and for the most part Kim thoroughly enjoys being an only dog but lately I’ve been wondering if we should consider adding a second, calmer dog into our household. 

Of course, my gut instinct is to find the dog who has been at the shelter the longest and bring them home. One day I will do this, but for today I have Kimberly and I have to be very careful about even entertaining the idea of bringing a second dog into the house.

Kimberly hasn’t met another dog that she likes, at least not since we adopted her. From what I know we are her 3rd (and final) home. She was in foster care long for a year before we found her and we later found out that the dogs in that foster home we not being fed enough (it’s a long story and one I don’t care to rehash, but we heard directly from her rescue about the situation.)

Whatever happened in her 2 1/2 years before she came to us, I don’t know, but she has been left with anxiety relating to other dogs.

We worked on her reactivity for a couple of years and she was progressing well… and then Covid happened. 

Since the idea has been on my mind, I thought it would make for good information to provide to you!

Take Your Dog (or Cat) Into Consideration

It is so important to take your dog into consideration when considering adding a new dog to the family. This also applies to any cats in your home. It breaks my heart when I see animals being given up because they don’t get along with the new cute little puppy. But even if that’s not your M.O. and you know going in that your pets are family and we don’t give up family, asking your dog or cat to live an unhappy life isn’t fair either.

That’s where I’m at with Kim. Part of me thinks that having a calmer dog around could help her to calm down and teach her that other dogs aren’t all bad… but also, she could just flat out hate having to share love and attention.  Finding a dog that matches my Kim is a tall order, and I do have to consider that she could prefer to be an only dog.

As an example, if you have a very assertive dog, trying to add another very assertive dog into the home could end up in fights. Or, if your current dog is assertive and you add a timid dog, your assertive dog could make the timid dog’s life miserable.

It’s also important to know that if you have an older dog and are considering adding a puppy, your older dog may not appreciate the energy of a puppy. Of course, the opposite could be true and a puppy could bring out some playfulness in your older dog. 

Or, if you have a very nervous and anxious dog and you add another nervous and anxious dog, their anxiety will play off of one another increasing their anxiety levels.

My hope, as I said earlier, is that finding a calm dog, this new dog could help relieve some of Kimberly’s anxiety.

It’s all about the individual dogs. These are just some things to think about before diving headfirst.

The Cost Of A Second Dog

You also want to be aware that adding a second dog means adding twice the food, twice the toys, twice the grooming, twice the vet bills, etc. Being responsible for a pet is not something to take lightly, it is a serious responsibility and it can be expensive. Make sure you are aware of the increased costs and that you are willing to take them on for the life of your pets.

Before Bringing Home A New Dog

So, you have decided to move forward with adding a second dog and you think it’ll be a good fit. Great! What can we do to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible?

Step 1 – Make sure your dogs meet in a neutral location on a leash (with no tension on the leash). This can be a park or some other area, preferably outdoors.

Step 2 – Each dog should have someone they know and trust on the other end of the leash with some yummy treats (preferably something with a strong smell to get their attention easier). Before the dogs see each other, keep rewarding each dog and have as much attention as possible be on their person rather than the environment.

Step 3 – Have each dog slowly walk closer to the other, still rewarding.

Step 4 – Once the dogs notice each other, continue rewarding for them paying attention to you.

Step 5 – As each dog moves closer, as long as each dog seems calm and content, let them meet. 

Typically if both dogs are on a leash, you do not want them meeting face to face. If you feel confident that each dog is reasonably relaxed, you can let the lashes go so they can meet on their terms. If not, let them sniff each other, again not face to face.

Keep a very close eye on each dog and make sure you intervene and separate the dogs if any signs of aggression arise. 

Only undo the leashes if each dog seems relatively relaxed and you are in a fenced area. 

If the meeting goes well and you decide to move forward, there are things you can do to make your home more comfortable for both dogs.

Bringing Your Second Dog Home

It’s always a good idea when bringing any pet into your home that you take a few days off to make the transition as easy as possible. 

Make sure each dog has their own space, their own crates, their own bowls, sleeping places, etc.

Start a routine right away. Your existing dog should already have a good routine down, so just do your best to keep that routine the same and start including your new family member.

Every dog is an individual, so make sure you are taking cues from each of them as best you can. There is no one way to expect your dog to adjust to this new situation, so let them go at their own pace. 

Give them their own spaces but also let them have some time together, with supervision of course. Walks are a great way to build bonds, so take them for walks together.

You will really have to use your intuition here to know how much time to give them to adjust to their new surroundings as well as to each other.

There are things you can do in the meantime.

Extra Help

Make sure to always reward good behavior. If they are in the same space and being calm, reward it!

If they are walking together nicely, reward it!

If they are relaxed enough to settle down on the couch on either side of you, reward it!

You can also utilize one of my favorite products ever, animalEO. Transition is a good blend for any big changes. Calm-A-Mile is a good blend for anxiety and tension. And the Aroma Boost collection is great for all-around support for your dogs! As a reminder, I only recommend veterinary-grade essential oils for your pets. Watch this video for more info on pets and essential oils: https://youtu.be/Y1mie9OOEF4 )

Don’t forget, there is a downloadable PDF available to Patreon subscribers on what to do once you bring your second dog home! 

So, how did adding a second dog to your home go for you in the past? Do you think any of these recommendations could have helped you? Or maybe you are in the same boat as me and you’re just thinking it all over. Either way, let me know in the comments!