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The joy a dog brings to a household is unmistakable, which is why it's often hard to resist the idea of welcoming another pooch into your home. But before you start trolling the adoption sites for cute canines, there are some things to consider prior to introducing a second dog into your family dynamic. These five tips should help keep the process of adopting a second pup fun — and drama free.
If you already live with a dog who displays bad habits — like digging up the pansies and petunias in the backyard — chances are that your new pup will pick up the same undesirable tendencies. So if your current dog lunges at other dogs while out on walks, barks incessantly or noshes on shoes and furniture, sign him up for obedience and behavior training before you introduce him to a new, highly impressionable companion. Otherwise, you'll have two naughty dogs on your hands.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the current annual cost of caring for a canine ranges from $580 for a small dog to $875 for a larger one. Of course, that price tag reflects only the day-to-day basics, like kibble and vet care. You also have to keep in mind that you'll need to invest extra for essential gear — collars, leashes and crates, to name a just a few items — as well as unexpected vet visits, potential boarding and possible pet sitters and dog walkers. There's another equally important expenditure you need to be willing to make: time to properly groom, train and exercise your new companion.
If your dog has separation anxiety disorder, the presence of another animal in the household probably will not ease the distress he experiences during times of separation. If your current pup suffers from this condition, work with your veterinarian or a certified professional dog trainer to address the problem before you bring another canine into the equation. Additionally, you need to consider the fact that some dogs who were abandoned and ended up at shelters, or who have switched households, may be at higher risk of developing separation anxiety, so it's important to discuss this potential issue with a shelter or rescue organization before you adopt.
If you have a senior dog, prepare for him to be irritable and possibly aggressive toward a new puppy in an attempt to establish boundaries. Further complicating the situation is the fact that most puppies are hungry for attention, so they'll ignore an older dog’s cues to back off and continue to pester, resulting in a very unhappy home life. If you're seriously considering the idea of pairing an elderly dog with a puppy, choose a pup with a calm temperament and offer him plenty of opportunities to interact and play with other dogs outside the home. To help your older dog better acclimate to the new addition to the family, designate special areas where he can safely retreat when he needs a break from the puppy. And don't forget that he still needs all the love and attention you can provide.
Although it may seem like a good idea to pair a small dog with another small dog, the opposite is actually true. To minimize the risk of fighting, opt for a dog of a different height, weight and age from the one you already have. Although huge gaps in age or size, such as a Great Dane with a Chihuahua, may not be the best match, a small variance can be helpful because dogs don't feel as much need to compete if they're not on common ground. For example, a 2-year-old dog and a 4-year-old dog, with similar activity levels and a slight difference in height and weight, could be a great fit.
And bear in mind that although female dogs often play well with one another, there's an increased risk of intense fighting in homes with female pups. And if you're smitten with the thought of adopting siblings, know that as adorable as this scenario seems, puppies from the same litter are likely to bond more with each other than with you.
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