Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Adding Another Dog to Your Home

Dos and Don'ts for Bringing Another Dog Into Your Home
By Roxanne Hawn
WebMD Pet Health Feature

Considering adding another dog to your home? First, consider the dogs you already have. 

“In my opinion, when you are looking to add a second dog to your home, first and foremost, you’ve got to look at your dog’s personality,” says Brad Phifer, CPDT-KA, director of pet behavior services for Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness Center in Indianapolis. This includes knowing your dog’s play style, energy and socialization level, and playmate preferences. 

Recommended Related to Dogs

Destructive Chewing in Dogs

It’s normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. Chewing accomplishes a number of things for a dog. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. For older dogs, it’s nature’s way of keeping jaws strong and teeth clean. Chewing also combats boredom and can relieve mild anxiety or frustration.

Read the Destructive Chewing in Dogs article > >

Before you decide to add a second (or third, or more) dog, here’s what you need to know to make all your dogs feel comfortable.

For starters, Phifer tells WebMD that there are no set rules about good dog matches because all dogs - even within the same breed - are individuals. So it's not necessarily true that female dogs match well with male dogs, younger dogs or older dogs make better second dogs, or that two puppies always do well together. 

 

 

 

Dog Introductions: What to Do

Dogs use body language to communicate, even when they are not directly interacting, says Lindsay Wood, MA, CTC, director of animal training and behavior at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, in Boulder, Colo.

She recommends walking your dog and the potential new dog together. Called parallel walks or proximity walks, these low-key activities allow dogs to get used to each other while doing something fun in a neutral space. This requires that:

  • Both dogs are on a leash
  • There is one person per dog
  • You keep the leashes loose, especially if/when the dogs choose to interact
  • You keep the first meeting brief (several seconds)
  • You praise both dogs constantly and in a light-hearted tone

Have your dogs sit or lie down to practice self-control, especially if one dog seems nervous or excited. Phifer says jittery energy can lead to frustration or aggression. “First impressions between dogs are really important,” he says.

While walking, allow one dog to sniff the other. Phifer recommends letting your current dog sniff first, while feeding the potential new dog some treats. Then, switch.

If the walk goes well, Phifer suggests taking the dogs to a safe, fenced-in area to relax and interact.

What Not to Do

Avoid doing these things when introducing your new dog:

  • Don’t throw two dogs together in a car, house, or yard and assume they will work it out. Even social dogs that seem to get along need supervision or separation (via baby gates or crates) at home for a few weeks.
  • Don’t keep the leashes tight when dogs first meet. The pressure from pulling only increases tension between dogs.
  • Don’t let the dogs rush up to one another.
  • Don’t use a stern voice, telling the dogs to “Be good!” or “Be nice!”
  • Don’t immediately introduce competition or conflict over popular toys, food, or bones.

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow