Congratulations on considering the addition of a second dog to the pack!  Whether you want a second dog to keep your first dog company or because the first dog bonded to one family member and you want one to bond to you, there are some things you should consider in advance of your new arrival and there are some things you can do to help with the transition from a one dog to a two-dog household.

  1.  Best Age for adding a second dog:  This is often one of the first questions we are asked when someone is considering adding a second dog to the family. Like many other questions, there is no one right answer.  Every dog is different and every household is different however, I do encourage families who are thinking about adding a second puppy to the family to consider doing that in the first 1-3 years after the first puppy comes home.  Younger dogs have more energy to play with puppies but are old enough to be a good example for the puppy to follow.  Basic house manners and some basic training and tricks are in place so the existing dog will be a good role model for the new puppy.  Dogs in the 5-8 year age range can have a harder time adjusting to a new addition.  They are somewhat set in their ways and although they can get used to having a puppy around, they may take a little longer to adjust to the new addition.  A little more patience may be required by all involved.  When your dog is 8 years or over, adding a new puppy has to be considered carefully to be fair to the current dog.  Does he/she love to play with other dogs or is it more comfortable on its own? Does the dog get very jealous when you give attention to other dogs? Does the dog have any health issues that may affect energy level or require a special diet.  There is more to be considered when your first dog is already a senior. 
  2. Picking the puppy:  dogs are like people:  sometimes they meet and hit it off immediately.  Sometimes they hate each other, sometimes they are standoffish at first and then learn to accept each other.  The most important consideration when adding a second dog is NOT gender or size…it’s personality.  Imagine being a quiet, shy person…a bit of a clean freak who likes calm, and values personal space and suddenly having a gregarious,  high energy slob of a roommate move in.  Your roommate takes your toys, eats your food, lays on your favorite bed – WHAT?????  Someone is NOT going to be happy.  When adding a second dog to your home, you want to find a personality that is complimentary and respectful to the existing dog in the household.  Your breeder will work with you to find out more about the dog you have and to determine what personality is best for the second dog.
  3. Before the new puppy comes home:  Start preparing for your new addition before you bring him/her home.  Put the second food dish out, buy a couple new toys for the new dog/puppy and (buy one for your existing dog too). If you want one bigger dog bed or a second dog bed, get that before the new dog comes so your existing dog can check it out and get used to it being around.  If your current dog has food left out all day, start transitioning to scheduled feedings so that your current dog gets used to eating at set times which is what your new puppy will need.
  4. On pick up day:  If it’s possible to bring your current dog with you to pick up your new puppy, take advantage of that.  Meeting for the first time on neutral ground is very helpful.  Not all breeders are set up for this so if that is not possible, set up the first meeting at home, outside, NOT in the house.  Dogs can be territorial so setting up the first introduction on neutral territory can be very beneficial.  Outside the house, in the back yard, across the street from your house, in a nearby local park….all are good options
  5. The introduction:  Like humans, when we meet someone new, we usually offer our hand and say hello.  In the dog world, it’s all about sniffing the butt.  You may recall seeing two dogs endlessly circling each other, each trying to get a good sniff of their new friend’s back end.  WHY?  Because, that is how dogs ‘handshake’ and say hello.  More importantly, the one that sniffs first is ‘alpha’.  The act of trying to get a sniff in can cause a lot of anxiety so eliminate it all by doing the following: 

A) hold your new puppy off the ground with its butt pointed away from you. 

B) Call your current dog over to get a good sniff of the pup. 

C) Once your dog has checked out the new puppy and walks away, put the puppy on the ground and back away a couple feet

D) allow the two dogs to sniff more and to interact.  BE AWARE:  Some pups may be overwhelmed meeting a new dog for the first time.  The pup may cower and hide or run away.  It may also shriek and yell while trying to hide.  That is okay.  That is all perfectly normal.  Don’t pick up the puppy or try to console it, just observe, and encourage.  Monitor your current dog’s behavior so that he/she doesn’t overwhelm and frighten the puppy.  Allow them time to get comfortable with each other.  That may take a few hours a few days or a few weeks.

Adding a second dog to your family can be very rewarding.  The dogs provide endless hours of entertainment, excitement, fill your lap (and favorite chair) with cuddles and keep you thinking one step ahead of them.  They can also be double trouble if your older dog hasn’t mastered good manners or has behavioral issues.  If you follow the few simple rules noted in this article, you will be well on your way to creating a wonderful, relational pack and a harmonious household.