Dogs are social animals and in general enjoy the company of other dogs, but this doesn’t mean that all dogs will get along with each other straight away; great care should be taken when introducing a new dog to the resident dog in the household.
Whilst owning more than one dog can bring lots of fun and enjoyment, not only to your canine companion but also to the whole household, it is important to think carefully what the impact might be on your existing dog. Is he old and arthritic? A new puppy or young dog may be too active for him to cope with. Does your dog like other dogs? If not, it might be unrealistic to have another dog living in the house, the potential for conflict between the two dogs may be too much to cope with.
If after all this deliberation and careful thought you still think a second dog is right for both you and your existing dog, you need to consider the personality of your dog and find a dog which complements this. If you are thinking of an adult dog, you may find going to a rescue centre is useful. Usually the staff will help you find a dog which best suits your lifestyle and the personality of your dog. They will help you with the first few introductions and provide support when you finally take your new dog home.
If you decide to get a puppy you need to remember that in the initial few weeks your puppy will require lots of training and need to experience a variety of environments and situations. This is very time consuming and you may find that your existing dog is having his nose pushed out.
Once you have decided on your new dog, introductions should be taken very slowly. Begin by taking both dogs for a walk on neutral territory. Enlist the help of a friend or another family member. Casually walk the dogs (on leads) a significant distance apart, retrace each other’s footsteps so that both dogs can sniff where the other dog has walked and if either relieves himself give the other dog time to sniff and investigate. This will help to familiarise each dog with the scent of the other. Gradually reduce the distance between the dogs until you can walk alongside. Don’t try to walk the dogs towards each other as face-to-face eye contact can be confrontational. When the dogs are side by side allow them to stop, sniff each other and say hello but do not linger too long in the initial ‘hello’ – it’s better to start walking together and repeat the ‘hello’ several times.
After you have completed several walks now is the time to allow some off-lead play. This must be in a secure area (be sure that you are able to call both dogs back to you before trying this). Again, this should also be carried out in a neutral area. Monitor both dogs’ body language and behaviour. Keep play-time brief and positive. If either dog becomes over excited or too boisterous then make sure you call them both back (with lots of praise) and calm the situation before letting the dogs off-lead again.