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Adding a Second Dog

Hi John.

I have a 2 1/2 year old, ten pound, spayed female, Min Schnauzer/Min Poodle cross and I’m looking for another puppy to purchase this spring or summer. Is there a “rule of thumb” as far as what to look for in that second pup? Opposite sex, calmer temperament, etc. Does it depend on what my friend’s dog is like, therefore, it being better to have her dog assessed by a behaviourist before she brings another puppy into the home? I would love to hear your advice. – St. Thomas

Hi St. Thomas,

Has your dog shown any indication that she likes other dogs enough that adding another dog is worthwhile? Has that ever been tested with another dog actually coming into the house? A romp in the dog park is one thing but sniffing around one’s food bowl or favorite toy, or trying to get affection from one’s owner quite another. If your dog hasn’t really had any intense one on one experience with other dogs, find a neighbour with a dog of good reputation or a reputable doggy day care and explain your situation and ease your dog into some doggy social situations. You might get your answer right there.

Assuming things go well, when it comes right down to it, when adding a second dog to a household, no matter what you do it’s still a gamble as to how things will work out in the long run but there are things you can do to improve the odds of a happy home.

Gender choice is a factor. There are exceptions to the rule but two males, or two females, neutered or not may be more inclined to fight for gender dominance, so rule of thumb, opposites. Neutering before sexual maturity improves the odds as well. Type of breed is important as some are more tolerant of other dogs then others.

Bottom line though, more then anything else the personalities of the dogs are what ultimately determine how they get along. A dog with a lot of drive to be top dog will do well with a dog that could care less. A good breeder will likely have an idea of trends in their pups personalities during the 8 weeks they have them in their care but there are a lot of factors that can change after that. Look for a breeder that has been breeding one breed for over 10 years with only 1 or 2 litters a year. Beware of advice from the breeders that are selling small breed crosses like your own. I haven’t met one yet that knew what they were doing and any advice they might have I’d take to the bank in the same wallet as Paris Hilton’s post-jail promise to turn over a new fig leaf.

Some dog owners end up being a little disappointed in the relationship that develops between themselves and the second dog. When a pup grows up around other dogs, it usually relates better to and therefore bonds better to and that can be discouraging. If it looks like that is the way things are going, you can get around that by just tethering the dog to your belt as much as possible for the first month or two and going about your business. The pups life then revolves as much or more around you and the bond is formed.

If you’re not set on a puppy you might try a shelter or volunteer rescue and see if they have any dogs on hand that they have observed, play well with others and they will very likely agree to a trial period.

– John Wade the Dog Trainer

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