Anyone who loves dogs knows that they are social animals. Like us, they have survived and thrived by cooperating with others, whether that be of their own species, or another. Dogs are incredibly versatile in their ability to form bonds with others, and sometimes the best relationships they have are not actually with other dogs at all. I'd like to think that I am Chester's best friend. I, like you, go to great lengths to be my dog's trusted and respected confidante. He is more of a people's dog than a dog's dog, but still, there is an innate drive for Chester to spend time with his own kind. So, I complied.
I adopted Alma 4 years ago, who is also a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She is a perfect partner for Chester as she minds her own business, respects his need for personal space, whilst also being up for the odd ear lick and snuggle. She is exactly the right type of friend for Chester and when choosing another dog to being into our lives, that was at the forefront of my mind... who would Chester want to be friends with?
For you and your dog, introducing another four legged friend may be a great idea. But before you make that decision, ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because you think your dog would be happier, given they love to socialise at the park? Is it because you think your dog will be less anxious when left alone? Is it simply because you have the space and... well why not? Whatever the reason, always make sure it is what is in your existing dog's best interests.
If the decision is to go ahead and adopt another dog, then always try to opt for a reputable Rescue organisation. Buying a puppy from a breeder is also an option, however it is imperative that you meet the parents and view where the puppy is being raised in person. For me, having a special interest in canine psychology, I believe it is critical to allow your existing dog to help you choose their new friend for them. All the friends in your life are people you have chosen to bring into your life. Sure, not all of them remain lifelong friends, but if they don't, you at least have the choice to remove them from your world.
Unfortunately for dogs, if the others they live with are not who they would choose to live out their lives with, then there is nothing they can do about it. Imagine how frustrating that would be.
Here are my top tips to make sure that introducing your second dog is as successful as possible:
- Allow your existing dog to help you choose. A similar size, energy level and temperament is recommended, although not always essential.
- Introduce both dogs on neutral territory and go for a brisk walk before introducing them both on your property. Always feed them separately. Removing the need to compete for any resources encourages them to build a positive bond with each other.
- I strongly advise the second dog is the opposite gender to your existing dog and that they are both desexed.
- Although it is always so exciting welcoming a new dog into the family home, don't forget about your original furry friend! In fact, this should be a time where they get extra rewards and attention. The last thing you want is for them to become jealous or resentful of the new dog and feel they need to compete for your affection. This is usually the reason why two dogs in the home do not get along. It is so easily prevented and if not done so, can have dire consequences for both dogs.
- Use my 3Cs approach. This is only reward your dog when they are Calm, Cooperative, and/or Controlled. This helps to get them into a predictable routine where they feel some sort of control in their new environment. When they are displaying any or all of these behaviours, they get immediately rewarded. The more of these acts you catch in the moment, the more they will offer them. It also teaches them good manners and empowers them to behave positively.
I think a second dog is a great idea if you know that your existing dog will benefit emotionally and physically from the addition. But making this decision requires a lot of planning and preparation, so do your homework, prepare to invest time and energy into building a positive relationship between the two dogs and set them up to succeed together. We all know just how special a best friendship can be. All of us deserve the love of a favourite mate and our dogs are no different. Good luck!