Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pooches: How to Integrate a Second Dog

A lot of people have been asking how we picked a second dog and how Miss M and Mr B became such a compatible duo. We did put a lot of thought into how we would add a second dog to our family, so some of it was pre-planning, some of it was careful integration, and some of it was just luck. We know all dogs have different personalities and quirks, but here are some things that worked for us:

Letting Them Choose and a Proper Introduction
Somewhere along the way we realized while we made the decision to get a second dog, the choice of dog was really up to Miss M. There were a couple of dogs that I really wanted to adopt, but Miss M didn't approve. We all know how bossy Miss M can be, so it was important for us to find a submissive dog. We wanted an opposite gender dog for all the reasons we originally wrote about here. We also knew we needed a dog that was more compatible with our lifestyle, so we began searching for a mellow, older pooch. Mr. B was 5 years old when we adopted him!
To set the pooches up for success, we also knew it was very important to have a proper introduction.  We take them to a neutral introduction and have them walk by eachother (never head on) to gauge their interest and watch for body language. We do a couple of walk-bys to see how they react, with the end goal of having them walk together as a pack at the end. Kate, from Twenty-Six to Life, wrote this really good detailed post about dog introductions.
Miss M approved of Mr B enough to make him into her own personal pet. 
Fun Fact: On our search, Miss M's originally met and fell in love with an overweight beagle named Butters. She settled for Mr B as a close second.

House Rules for Success
Mr B wasn't always Miss M's furniture and it actually took time for the pooches to become comfortable with one another. (This is the funny video documenting the exact moment when they first became 2 dogs in a crate; unbelievably, Mr B made the first move!)
 We made sure to keep things quiet and low-excitement while Mr. B integrated into our household. To eliminate the possibility of resource guarding, we fed the dogs separately in their crates, kept the water bowl separate, eliminated treats and toys and kept affection low-key. We also kept plenty of dog beds around--so nothing was high value--and we kept the pooches crated separately when we weren't home.
We would also give Miss M 'alpha' status by feeding her first, letting her exit and enter first, and other high value rules. We didn't scold the dogs if they needed to correct (sharp bark if they didn't like the other dog's behavior) because it's something the dogs work out among themselves. 
It was also important for us to walk them together. Much like the idea behind SociaBulls, group walking is a positive social experience.

The Value of Fostering 
 If we had to do it over again, we would definitely foster a dog before making the adoption leap. Fostering lets you recognize how a dog might fit into your home without the long-term commitment, especially if you're transitioning from one to two dogs. Plus a great side-effect of fostering, is that you are directly saving a life.
We also wrote this post about how to successfully integrate a foster dog into a multi-dog household.

These are just some experiences we've had. What are some other things you've learned about adding another dog to your family?


Life_With_Alfred said...

I think a big part is giving them time to adjust and get used to each other without forcing it, like you said. When I was in high school my family had a 10 year old Bichon who was never properly socialized as a puppy because he was really sick (I think it was Parvo). Me and my brother and sister talked my parents into getting not one, but TWO new puppies and our Bichon, Wrigley, must have thought we were completely insane. The first few weeks he wouldn't even be in the same room as them, but over time they all became pals and even shared toys and played together all around the house. I think they made him feel like he was young again. :) Now they're the old ladies putting up with spunky young Bruce & Alfred!

Luv My Rosie said...

Miss Rosie is very much like Miss M so when my roommate moved in with his male (a mutt) I was very concerned on how they would interact. We let them meet on neutral ground and it worked out well. Eventually the male became Miss Rosie's personal pillow. I think it all depends on the personality of the dogs. BTW I just love the picture of the two of them in the crate!!

Rebelwerewolf said...

We did a few things right and a few things wrong when integrating Mushroom into our Badger-y household. If I could do it all over again, I would have made sure Badger got plenty of socialization with other dogs before adopting a second dog. Also, we should have met a variety of dogs to see how well Badger got along with them. We shouldn't have felt "obligated" to adopt Mushroom just because we met her. The dogs get along fairly well, and I certainly don't regret adopting Mushroom, but sometimes I get a little jealous when I see pictures of dogs cuddling.

Unknown said...

When bringing in new dogs to the sanctuary, I crate up or house the current dogs, then let the new one in the yards/field on her own alone. Depending on the dog and circumstance, I may "isolate" her in the outdoor pen while the other dogs roam around her or let two - three dogs out at a time, beginning with opposite sex and similar size.

With adopters, I ask them to bring their dogs (and entire family); we meet at a nearby park. After we walk the dogs apart, I walk the adopter's dog and they walk the new dog they want to adopt. This has worked well; the last time we did this, both dogs were Beagles and could care less about changing handlers as their sniffers were in high gear :).

Very good information and links in this post - thank you!

Unknown said...

The first few days we got Brodie all he wanted to do was hump Molly, sheesh that was annoying for all. So we implemented a tie down for him where Molly could get away as she pleased and where he still had some room to move and a comfy spot to hang.

Sarah said...

We always said that Maggie chose Sadie. But it was mostly magic that resulted in a well-integrated family of dogs. Special Tolerant Sadie Magic. :)

Corbin said...

We love reading everyones views and experiences with bring other dogs into the house hold. We do it often with fosters, but sometimes our 'go to' methods don't work with certain dogs, so mom likes to have a number of tricks up her sleeve!

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