I was up in Loxahatchee about two weeks ago installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing system for a new client. As I was working on the transmitter system in the garage, she approached me and asked if dogs can get lonely. I told her that since dogs are a social animal, they require interaction with other animals, but their actions and our perception of loneliness do not always coincide. She told me that she felt that her Yorkie, Buster, needed a friend. He was well behaved except for always escaping out of the yard (hence my presence). My client was often gone for several hours during the day and she felt that having a little buddy would perk him up.
The one mistake that all people make, as well as my client; is to put their human emotions and feelings in the place of their dog’s. Buster was not displaying bad behavior of any kind. He wasn’t tearing things up, barking incessantly, demanding attention, nipping, stealing food, etc. In fact, as a Behavioral Dog Trainer, I would say that he was just fine. The problem was that my client perceived that her being away was making Buster lonely. Chances are, he was probably happy to get a break and have a nice quiet house to nap and chill.
Having multiple dogs should not be based on human emotion or “crazy ideas”. It should be based on the simple question “Would you like and can you handle more than one dog?”. Period. Since you are the boss, the caregiver, the teacher, the protector; it will be your responsibility to take care of each animal separately and the group collectively. If you don’t think you have time to provide the quality of life for more than one dog, do not get another. If you have the time and want a second dog, then you should consider looking for a second dog.
Here are some things to consider when looking for a second dog:
- Make sure that the dog is neutered or spayed. This makes sure that no unnecessary aggression arises out of heightened escitement or adrenaline.
- Try to pick a dog that is roughly the same size as your current dog. This makes play time easier because one can’t hurt the other because of the difference in size.
- It would probably be best if the second dog was a little younger than your current dog. When the newly introduced dog is slightly younger than the current, it stimulates the activity between the two. Bonding will normally take place much faster.
- Have several play dates way from your home with your dog and the perspective dog to make sure that they are compatible. Some dogs “just don’t like another dog”. There is no way to determine this until you actually have them meet. Many Humane Societies and Rescue Groups have neutral areas where this activity can take place.
- Make sure that everyone in the family agrees to the idea of a second dog and that they all take part in choosing the second dog.
Once you bring your second dog home:
- Always be present when you have both dogs together for the first week. If there are any quibbles, you want to break it up quickly to show both of them that fighting is breaking your rules.
- Treat each dog equally. If you are spending more time or giving more goodies to one dog than the other, sibling rivalry could take place and your place as their leader could diminish.
- Feed the dogs separately for the first week. Next, place the bowls in the same room, but at either ends of the room. Since you aren’t sure if the second dog might have protective food aggression, you want to go slowly when introducing food to them jointly.
- Perform obedience exercises with both of them at the same time. This allows them to obey you and observe that the other is also obeying you. It helps to build their bond as “the followers” and their joint perception of you as the leader.
- Slowly increase their “together play time” to help build their joint bond. You should also play with them jointly to build their focused relationship with you.
Building the proper social structure for your family and your dog(s) is always important. Deciding whether there should be more than one dog in your family is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. We are always here to help with that decision and can be contacted through Dog Fence Training Help. There is additional dog training help located on our blog at Best Out of Sight Fence Trainers Loxahatchee South Florida. Our Home Dog Training web site is completely focused on dog training and you can visit it at Home Dog Training South Florida.