What to Consider Before Bringing Home a Second Dog

Many of us who have dogs eventually bring home a second dog. Maybe we couldn’t resist that adorable mutt at the pound that looked up at us with pleading eyes. Or perhaps our friend asked us to adopt a dog that needs a home. In any case, we reason, our dog would benefit from a companion.

That’s all fine and dandy—until, in some cases, we introduce the new dog to the dog we have at home and the two don’t get along. Despite our high hopes for a peaceable co-existence, it’s not unusual for two dogs to start snarling the second they meet.

How are we to know if two dogs will or will not get along? And is there anything we can do to prevent dog-on-dog conflict?

There are steps dog owners can take before they place potentially incompatible dogs under the same roof. Most involve doing a little research—and exercising a little restraint in the selection process—before picking out your current dog’s new room mate.

Mix the Sexes

Most good matches occur between one female and one male. There are some breeds which will actually pick fights with dogs of the same sex and of the same breed. This has to do with each dog wanting to establish himself or herself as “top dog “.

“But I’ve seen two male or two female dogs get along,” you might say. Well, this may be true, but there will always be some sot of pecking or “pack” order when there are two dogs of the same sex.

If dogs of the same sex do get along, chances are that this is because one dog has become the dominant one and the other the submissive one in the relationship

However, keep in mind that the personalities of both dogs will be altered. One will become more dominant than it would normally have been and the other will become more submissive than it normally would have been. This can only be detrimental to either dog’s development and level of dog-to-dog and dog-to-human interaction.

When you’ve got one male and one female dog, on the other hand, each gets to be the dominant; the male dog is the top male dog and the female dog is the top female dog. The only time you might have to separate them is during feeding time, when they will probably become protective about their food.

Dogs That Grew Up Together

Just because dogs have grown up together doesn’t mean they will always get along. After dogs mature, their instincts take over; the fact that they romped together as puppies will not override their gut reaction in the case of stress or injury at the hands of a “sibling”. Also, socializing with other dogs alters whatever pack behavior is learned early on in a dog’s life.

Monitor Your Dogs

Finally, do not leave your two dogs alone together when you first introduce them. Even dogs who will end up great companions will not necessarily be nice to each other as of the first meeting—especially if the meeting is not on neutral ground.

Your pets need your supervision while they are getting to know each other as playmates, first and as housemates, second. Note: don’t keep your dogs on a tight leash. That will only spur the dogs on to fight.

If you find that your dogs react viciously towards one another, crate them one at a time. While one is crated, let the other one run loose. Keep this up until both dogs are completely calm. Then try re-introducing them. Just remember that it’s also wise to keep the sizes of your dogs similar, as very large dogs can cause injury—sometimes unintentionally—to extremely little dogs.

Spaying: Just Do It!

If your dogs are of two sexes, both dogs, of course, should be spayed and or neutered before they are placed together under one roof. If either dog is intact, the owner will have to have access to an extra room or a yard so that the dogs can be separated when the female is in heat.

If you do decide to allow your dogs to mate, keep in mind that dog breeding requires numerous expenses, special facilities and a lot of hard work. As any breeder will tell you, it should not be undertaken lightly.

As you can see, with a little advance planning, you and your two dogs can live a peaceable and companionable existence!


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