Many dog owners with one dog often think that their dog appears lonely. They feel guilty about leaving him home alone when they leave for work. They then think about getting a “little friend” for him. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
In our Dog Training business, Robin and I are asked this question from time to time. Our clients go to work and need to leave their dog alone at home while they are at work or their dog seems to show signs of separation anxiety. They may just think that a second dog will be a good “play mate” for their current dog. These are a few of the ideas that spin through our clients’ heads; there are a lot more, for sure. The real answer is that you just don’t know what will happen when you bring another dog into your family.
My Dog is Lonely:
The idea that a dog is naturally “lonely” when he is left by himself all day is wrong. Many dogs just hang out and sleep when everyone is gone from the house. Why do you think they are fully charged and go nuts when you open the door at night? They have been fully rested and are now ready to play because their play mate just came home.
Separation Anxiety and Your Dog:
A second dog may not help if your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is often shown through your dog destroying things, pooping, and barking. These are actions that are caused because of the relation between you and your dog. The other dog does not factor into the equation. The problem is that you have not created the appropriate bond between you and your dog and your dog. Your dog is trying to call you back home. Although difficult, this can be solved through appropriate behavioral training and does not require the addition of a second dog.
Another Dog will Help Socialize My Current Dog:
If you are of the belief that another dog will assist with your dog’s socialization skills, you don’t need to go to the extreme of permanently bringing a new dog into the fold. Consider taking your dog to a dog day care facility several times a week. If you have some neighbors with friendly dogs, set up some play dates in a neutral area.
Now, if our client wants to move a head to get a second dog because they are “sure that the new dog will be great for the current one”, we ask them a very simple question:
Are you ready for the responsibility and cost of taking care of another dog, period?
We always remind our clients that getting a second dog should not be done to simply solve a perceived problem. What if getting the second dog doesn’t solve the problem? What then?
What if my client has assured me that they really want a second dog and will do whatever is necessary to make sure that his current dog and the new dog will feel happy and safe within their family. No matter what it takes, they absolutely assure me that they will be the “diligent parents”.
Now I move to my “Here is what you do” lecture:
- Contact Rescue Groups and the Local Humane Society for dogs that you may consider. Look for a “middle of the pack” dog. This is a dog that doesn’t run at you instantly when you come near the cage or their area. This dog also won’t remain in the rear of the cage or area. This dog will look at you and become slightly animated when you call for him them and will come over to you in a cool and polite manner. These are important characteristics when you introduce this dog to your current dog.
- Have your current dog and your potentially new dog meet in a neutral area. A lot of places have fenced in areas that are used just for this activity. You can also use a neighbor’s fenced in back yard. Just make sure that if your neighbor has bets, they are not present at that time.
- Put leashes on your dog and the new dog and bring them into the area from different entrances. Walk them around for a while and slowly get closer and closer.
- Get them to be about eight feet from each other and put both of them into a sit. Once they both look cool, calm, and collected, allow them to approach each other. Do not force them. Allow them sniff each other for a few moments and then separate them and have them sit again. Make sure the leashed never get tangled or crossed while they are close.
- If it is “so far so good”, walk them around the area again for a little bit. Put both of the dogs in a sit and then drop the leashes. If either dog becomes agitated or gives too much heightened focus towards the other dog, instantly, yet calmly step on the leashes and separate them.
- Continue to let them get to know each other, observing closely for any signs of aggression of fearfulness. If they eventually lie down and show passive tendencies towards each other, they are now friends.
- Continue this type of socialization at your house. Have both dogs meet on your front lawn. Have them on leashes and walk them around for a little bit. Next, permit them to approach and sniff. Continue this for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Take your current dog into the house and have him sit away, but in view of the open front door. Bring your new dog into the house and walk him around, not immediately approaching your current dog. Slowly let him get closer to your current dog.
- Permit both dogs to sniff if they want.
- Now you should sit on the sofa with the dogs at opposite ends. Still have them on their leashes. It would be best of they were sitting or lying down, but standing is still OK. After a few minutes, let the leashes go but do not remove them.
- Get up from the sofa and calmly meander around the room but never leave the room.
It is never 100% sure that the two dogs will be “best buddies”. You have done everything possible to correctly introduce and jointly socialize them. If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in Southern Georgia.