Many of us consider getting a second dog, in the hopes that she will help keep our existing dog busy and out of trouble. However, if our resident dog is not well trained, it is more likely that our new dog will pick up on his bad habits.
In the end, we will have two furry terrors, instead of just one.
I got Husky puppy Shania, one year after my first dog, Shiba Sephy. I waited a year so that I had time to bond with Sephy and properly train him. Only after I had solved most of his behavioral issues, did I consider getting another dog.
One of the biggest challenges of getting a second or third dog, is the process of introducing her to our existing pack, and getting everyone to accept her. Here, we consider how to successfully introduce a new dog into our home.
1. Meal Time Ritual
Meal time is especially important in a multiple dog household.
Dogs are opportunistic by nature, and during meal times, I have observed that they will try to steal each other’s food. This can often trigger food guarding and food aggression behaviors.
I supervise my dogs during meal times, so that there is no stealing. They each get several interactive food toys to work on, and I make sure they give each other space, while working on their toys.
Often, Husky Shania will work diligently on her items, while Sephy will just lie around sunning himself. He will wait until she is done with her toy, and then pick through what she has left behind.
He is such a moocher! 😀
Sometimes, he will test coming in before Shania is finished, in which case I will step in and body block him away. Through this process, my dogs learn that I will enforce meal-time rules in a fair and consistent manner, so they do not need to do it themselves, with their teeth.
2. Attention, Affection, and Rules
After getting a second dog, it is natural to pay more attention and show more affection toward her, especially if she is a puppy.
However, we must resist that temptation, and try to treat both dogs equally.
If we give our new dog more attention and affection, we may create competition between our two dogs. This may later lead to conflicts and aggression. Instead, I make sure all my dogs follow similar rules, and get similar rewards for good behavior.
If we are too lenient with our puppy and let her get away with more, our existing dog will likely observe that, and pick up on those same bad habits.
I like doing group obedience training with my dogs. This helps them work together as a team, and be comfortable with each other around people, food, and toys. It also helps them to associate together-time with rewards and positive outcomes. I also do their grooming sessions together, including teeth cleaning and fur brushing.
Supervision is very important, especially in the beginning. I teach my dogs what the rules are, and what to do when under stress. In this way, they learn good play and interaction habits. In fact, I still supervise my dogs, but less so now that they are older, and know the rules around the house.
Still, Shiba will always try something from time to time to test his boundaries.
He is that cool! 😎
3. Play-Time Rules
In addition to meal-time rules, play-time rules are also important.
Since Shania is a three legged dog, Sephy may sometimes overwhelm her when he gets over-excited during play. I always make sure he does not get too rough with her.
I manage the excitement level of all of my dogs, by throwing in many play-breaks. During a play-break, I call one dog over to me (the more food focused one), get her to do some simple commands, and reward her well for it. This usually gets the other dogs to join in, so we do a brief group obedience session. These brief breaks help my dogs to calm down, refocus on me, as well as practice doing commands in the middle of play.
I also institute a no-humping rule, because it can be seen as a dominance move by other dogs (especially new dogs). I do not want my Shiba practicing these types of behaviors. The more he practices it, the more likely he is to repeat it; possibly in an inappropriate context. Shania also dislikes it, so humping is a time-out offense.
Some people prefer to let the dogs “work it out for themselves”.
Personally, I think it is best for us to set and enforce play-time rules and household rules. By doing so, I ensure that there is no bullying, and my dogs do not become fearful of each other. Since I am the one correcting their behaviors, my dogs are free to enjoy each others’ company, and need not use aggression. They learn to see each other as playmates and equals. If there is ever any trouble, they can come to me and I will take care of it. To me, that is what leadership means.
4. A Quiet Place to Rest
When I first got a new dog, I made sure that Sephy had a nice and quiet place to rest, away from the nibbles of a playful puppy. Like us, a dog may want some time to spend, in peaceful solitude. This is especially important if our resident dog is older, and tires more easily.
A puppy can be a crazy ball of energy and a big handful, not just for the people around the house, but also for the existing dogs.
I set up a consistent routine for my second dog, similar to what I did for my first dog. I make sure that she has a fixed schedule for meal-time, play-time, walk-time, and sleep-time.
When it is time for sleep, little Husky goes into her crate or puppy pen. In this way, my adult dogs get to rest, and so does my little puppy. Now that Puppy is older, it is no longer necessary to manage them so closely. Both dogs are able to regulate themselves, and give each other space when they need it.
Still, they each have separate crates that they can go to whenever they want, and they also have access to the backyard.
If I am not home, which does not happen often, Husky prefers to stay out in the backyard and Shiba likes staying in the house. I still do not fully trust them to be alone together, because their play can get pretty crazy, they may get over-excited, and end up hurting themselves.
5. Conflict Over Resources
When we get a new dog, there is a lot of uncertainty. Everyone in the family is learning how to interact with Puppy, and Puppy is learning how to interact with everyone else.
Conflicts may arise between our two dogs, when they both want the same thing at the same time; for example, food, toys, sleeping area, or our attention and affection. An effective way to keep the peace, is to be clear about resource ownership and teach them how to resolve conflicts without aggression.
For example, if one dog is chewing on a toy, I am there to supervise and prevent stealing. If I am not fast enough and some stealing occurs, I usually replace what was stolen plus an added interest. The thief has to either go to his bed or go to timeout, thereby temporarily losing his freedom. In addition, I also reward my dogs for staying calm together, and for working together with me.
In summary, I try to maximize positive interactions with the new dog, as well as minimize bad encounters. The more positive experiences my dogs have with each other, the more they will accept each other as part of a team. The opposite is also true.
If we establish clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, our new dog will quickly learn what is expected of her, and our existing dogs will also know what to expect from the new puppy. This reduces uncertainty, reduces stress, and helps everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Second Dog – Double Trouble or Double Fun?
So which is it?
Is a second dog double the trouble or double the fun?
I think if properly handled, a new dog can be a big enhancement to everyone in the family.
I am very glad Shania joined our family. Everyone has a happier, much richer life, because of her spirit, exuberance, can-do’ness, and overall awesomeness!
However, she was a lot of work, especially in the beginning, and the dog bills are much heftier.
Still, Shania gives a thousand-fold more than she gets, and Sephy will be the first to say that he loves her more than words can say. When she is away, he just spends his time moping around the house.
Thanks to Colleen and Reptar for bringing up this fun and important topic.
Mari Yochum says
Hello, i already read your whole blog.. lol
i’ve read the links you posted here.
Well, Tsuki is about to turn 8 months, she was black with a cream belly and now she is a little bit of all the colors, she is beautiful. She’s been with us since she was a little ball. She obeys pretty well. She sits, she lays down, give a paw, give a kiss on command and also rings the bell when she wants to go potty. She is smart and she shows a lot of respect toward us. When we got Diesel, he was 6 months, it was more like a rescue, the place he was in was not safe and he was mistreated, so we took him home. Tsuki never cared about sharing anything, not with us and not with any other dog. (my brother in law has a shiba that looks just like yours..) But Diesel would attack her over food, over everything. He is about to turn 10 months now, he is cream with a white belly, such a handsome boy. He is very affectionate and different from Tsuki he likes to lay down with you and be a good puppy, but when he is mad, its like he becomes something else. Now Tsuki is following him, she doesnt do anything with us, but she freaks out if Diesel goes close to her cage, or her toys, or her food. I also feel there’s a lot of trying to dominate each other, because his bed is in the kitchen, he believes the kitchen is his, and Tsuki think the rest is hers (lol). Like if they fight over something in the living room , dining room part of the house, Tsuki doesnt back off until he goes back to the kitchen. But if they fight in the kitchen, Diesel gets double mean and even though Tsuki confronts him, she shows fear. I try to do everything i can so they dont fight, they are good puppies, they play together all the time, they also sleep together. I can see they love each other coz when we had them fixed, they were kept separated and Tsuki would look for him and vice-versa. I’ve tried the training together(still do), but Diesel is not a good listener. he does sit, lay down and give a paw but that is when he wants to. He also respects my husband more than respect me, i know he loves me, he is always so excited when full of love but he challenges me a lot. I try to do training together but sometimes just because he knows i have a treat he already starts acting. We feed them separate bows and he insists in going check out her bow when he is done, but she now protects her bowl as well so when he already starts going to her side she is already getting ready to attack him. (she never checks his bowl) Meanwhile, i try to feed them totally separate, in different rooms so they dont fight, but that doesnt solve the problem. They are fine until Diesel decides something is important to him and pick a fight. (oven mits, a piece of paper tower, anything he can “steals”). My husband got shock collars, i use on vibrating, it works to reinforce the “no” but it does not work to stop them from fighting. I’ve read your article here about the shock collar and i get a little afraid of using it on shock mode. I just feel like im running out of options and it breaks my heart to have my own dog growling and wanting to attack me.
Yeah, I understand what you mean. Sephy used to do crazy leash biting with me, and it was really upsetting and also somewhat scary.
After a bit though, I realized that it didn’t have anything to do with caring or love. He was just using whatever moves that worked with me, and leash biting worked with me. It made me back off, and he could continue doing whatever he wanted. After I was able to stay calm, stop being fearful of him, and take control of the situation, things improved significantly. Sephy is very sensitive to what I am feeling so if I am sad or fearful, he picks up on that, gets stressed himself, and misbehaves even more.
In terms of food aggression, the general strategy that works with my dogs are as follows-
1. Maximize successes – Create many circumstances where the dog will be successful, and where the dog learns that people being near him means more stuff, not less.
2. Prevent failures – This part is just as important as the above. We want to make sure that the dog is not put in a situation where he feels that he has to use aggression to protect his resources. When Sephy was young and starting to show some food guarding behavior, here are some of the things that I did-
a) I watched him like a hawk when we were out on walks. I also kept him on a shorter leash. In this way I can almost always prevent him from getting bad stuff in his mouth. In this way, I don’t have to remove anything from his mouth by force, which was why he started developing resource guarding behavior in the first place.
b) I made sure there was nothing in the house that he could steal. When I couldn’t closely supervise him, he goes in his crate or he stays in the kitchen with me behind a gate.
c) I supervised him closely and I trained him not to steal. If he tries to steal, he goes to timeout. If he follows the Leave-It comment, I reward him very well with his favorite games and activities.
He gets less freedom, but it was necessary to prevent him from practicing food aggression while I trained him not to steal and desensitized him toward people and other dogs being near his stuff.
Sephy and I went through some difficult times. It was always frustrating for me that while reading about a technique or strategy on an article or book, it seems that it shouldn’t be too hard to implement. However, when it comes to practically applying it on my own dog, it is a lot more difficult, and unexpected things occur. I realized that in dog training, it is not just about learning a technique, but timing and execution are extremely important. This is where a professional trainer can be very helpful. I visited with many professional trainers when Sephy was young, especially when dealing with his aggression issues.
WE JUST ADOPTED A NEW DOG INTO OUR HOME OF FIRST IS A 9YR IRISH SETTER, NEW DOG A MIXED BOXER, 1-2YR OLD FROM A LOCAL SHELTER. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO 1ST DOG HAS BEEN SO AGRESSIVE AND HAS NEVER BEEN BEFORE – HELP –
I would chat with the people at the shelter and see what they say. My Shiba Inu also does not get along with all dogs, so we usually have a greet and meet first before considering adoption. Here is more on how I picked my second dog.
When I get a new dog, I make sure to give my older dogs space and peace and quiet when they want it. Then I slowly introduce them and always make their time together very positive.
It can also be helpful to bring in a professional trainer who can observe the interactions in real time and accurately identify the aggression triggers.
Hi me again! We too tried to get a second shiba when Yuki was 14 months old, what a disaster! I thought this would work as she really seemed to enjoy doggy company when I took her to playdates with other dogs at their homes. She has 2 pomeranian friends that she would often play with when I would visit their owner. When she saw the new puppy she started to salivate and her fur stood on end, she looked like a werewolf! We continued to persevere by calling in trainers, behaviourists etc. To make things worse this little male puppy was sooo dominant that he wasn’t about to back down come hell or high water. He proceeded to urinate in her bed, on her favourite toy, and on the mat she liked to sit on, as time went by I could see things getting worse. Yuki didn’t want him anywhere near her and he would stand at the patio door and bark at her and nip her so as not to let her come in! She also lost about 2kgs (4.5 pounds) from stress which caused her to stop eating. I persevered to find him a good home in conjunction with the breeder we’d bought him from and he’s living happily in his new home as an “only child”. Yuki was a different dog within 2 days of him leaving she looked so much happier and more relaxed. I realise there are people with more than 1 shiba, but I also feel that this is one breed that often prefer to be the only dog in the household. My female was being territorial but I also could not believe that such a young puppy could behave so extremely dominanat.
Good to see you again and thanks for sharing your second dog story with us.
I had some similar experiences with Sephy when I was looking for a second dog. Initially, I was hoping to get a rescue Husky, but none of them got along very well with Sephy. I think it was because Sephy is a pretty in-your-face kind of dog, and many of the rescues that I visited with, were more shy and needed more space.
Based on Sephy’s play style, I think he prefers something other than a Shiba – preferably a larger type breed who is more playful and less dominant. 😀
So we have it narrowed down! They’re Border Collie/Siberian Husky pups!
There are 3 females and 4 males. Would two males dogs even if they are neutered still fight for dominance?
They must be super good looking! Are there any links with pictures? Would love to see them.
Both BCollie and SHusky are extremely high energy – so you will have a great exercise coach 😀 Got any names picked?
Based on what I have read, two males are more likely to have friction, but then again I have also heard many stories of female Shibas who totally go ninja on their male counterparts. I think if you bring them up from puppy-hood with proper play and interaction rules, they should be fine.
Yeah I know what you mean. I felt the same way, but when the time came Sephy adjusted really well. I think Reptar will as well. Sephy was just so happy to have a dog companion, that he was really good with pretty much everything. Even now he seems to be perfectly happy to let Shania have her way almost all the time.
Sephy actually sleeps in the crate at night and Shania gets to roam free. She doesn’t do things like crawl under the bed and start chewing at the frame 😀
This is so exciting! Take lots of pictures and share stories with us.
I have so many questions about a second dog and I feel like the right breed and proper research is incredibly important. We would love to get a rescue dog but with that, you can’t anticipate too much what traits the dog will have from what their mixed with and thats OK.
I’m pretty sure I have the basics down. Vet bills, food, toys, treats, training, and supplies. I can wrap my head around that pretty easily.
It’s the day-to-day stuff and other not obvious rules, especially in the beginning. I’m sure the dogs will find their routine over time. Reptar has his toys, the ones he loves and the ones he’s willing to share. I’m assuming this could present an aggression issue if the new dog takes a toy he’s not willing to share and obviously some rules and obedience measures will have to be enforced.
In the “pen” or enclosed space you set up for your dogs, did Sephy ever try to get/jump out or knock it over?
I think I’m more concerned about Reptar and how he will react and over-react. He has his routine and you know Shibas when their routines get messed up. They act out and are terrors of the night 🙂 I love Reptar for his quirks. For example, at bed time, Reptar can sleep on the bed with us, in his crate, on the floor or just hang out but he has to stay in the bedroom. Obviously with a new puppy, he/she will not have this luxury as he will have to be properly trained and disciplined like Reptar. It’s about trust. That being said, I don’t feel its fair to take 10 steps back and make Reptar sleep in his crate at night because the new dog will have to. But how will that affect the new dog, and Reptar who will most likely be so intrigued by this new addition that is in another crate.
It’s really the little things like that I’m concerned and curious about.
Do you have any stories or tips about just day to day life? That may be a silly question but I hope you know what I mean.
Our first dog was a Mexican Hairless, she was about 8 months when we got our then 3 month old shiba. Surprisingly, they match each other’s energy levels perfectly. We also have 6 ferrets at home which helped to “numb” the prey drives of both pups.
I do love the way siberians look, though.
LOL – sounds like a whole lot of fun. Was it difficult to train your Shiba not to go after the ferrets? Does he generalize to other ferrets and small creatures?
Yeah, Siberians are very beautiful. They also have a great and very affectionate personality. They are very high energy though, and my Siberian’s prey drive is very strong.
For my next dog I am thinking of going with more obedience and possibility of off-leash 😀
My husband loves border collies but we know they aren’t the right breed for us at this time. We’ve thought about a border collie mix though. Some of the breeds we like are border collie/lab mix and I also have fallen in love with a rottie/husky mix. Since they are mixes, I’m not sure what traits they’ll get from each breed. Do you have any thoughts on these and how they would interact with a Shiba? I’m more iffy about the rottweiler mix though because of their aggressive nature. It’s hard to look at the puppy’s face and see anything aggressive. Their faces make me melt!
Heh yeah, I also like border collies. We have a sheep herder that comes to the hills around our neighborhood during winter time and he has two border collies to help him with his sheep. They are super amazing and extremely focused on their work and handler.
It is definitely one of the candidates for a third dog, but I don’t think I am ready for them either – lol. A trainer at the SPCA told me that she has to throw balls for hers all day long. Maybe when I move to a less populated area, and get some sheep 😉
I always prepare to get the worst traits from both breeds. That way, there will be a lot of pleasant surprises 🙂
If you are thinking of getting a mix-breed, adoption may be a very good way to go. That way, you get to meet the dog first, see how they act around Shiba, and see which breed traits they show most.
I have met some really sweet Rotties and some not so sweet ones. People always say that any dog can be properly trained and I agree.
However, personally, I feel that owning a larger dog is a bigger responsibility because they can do more damage (even just accidentally) and as a result should be more closely managed and trained. Larger dogs also tend to have more health issues and have a shorter lifespan.
I would really like to get a GSD or GSD-mix next, but my other half is not so keen on it. GSDs tend to like their space and are iffy around Sephy because he just rudely butts into people’s personal area.
Ok, I am starting to ramble 🙂
Anyway, please keep us updated on your second dog search and hugs to Reptar! Make sure to remind him that he is a very lucky boy!
Thanks so much for this article! It was really helpful and pointed out a lot of other things to think about before bring home a second dog!
We’ve had our second dog Rocky, a 7 month old Shiba, for 2 months now. Our other dog Trixie, a basenji mix, will be 2 years old in May, and we got her when she was 8 weeks old.
When we brought Rocky home they started playing immediately, after a few minutes of butt sniffing. Rocky had apparently been socialized as a puppy so she knew not to bite too hard. He has learned a lot from the older dog and is a great deal calmer than he would be if he were our only dog. I’ve read about many of the shiba’s crazy traits, and he doesn’t seem to exhibit many of the worst ones.
One important factor I found is the age of the dogs. When we brought Trixie home, she was introduced to our old dog Scooby, a 14 year old dobe/lab mix. He didn’t have the patience for this new pup and didn’t appreciate being shoulder slammed, hip checked, and nipped by this youngster. Also, Trixie mouthed a lot and this was new to us, so it was a stressful couple of months until we got used to her habits, and she learned some obedience. She eventually bonded with Scooby and when he died over a year later, she moped around for quite awhile.
When we brought Rocky home, we were fresh from having a mouthy puppy around, so it wasn’t such a change for us. Since Trixie has a playmate now, she has lost some weight and become a much healthier dog. Rocky was well behaved at his first obedience class, but he won’t sit on command without pushing his butt down. He can do it, he just doesn’t want to. Both dogs lay close to each other, if not touching. Also, their play has little if any dominance activity. Rocky will climb up on Trixie’s back and bite to get her attention away from me, but he hasn’t humped since he was neutered.
Adding a second dog to our family has been a good experience, and an almost constant source of entertainment for us and our neighbors.
That is a very good point. As you say, it is a good idea to have the second dog closer in age to the first dog so that they have a playmate for life.
I am thinking for getting a third dog but will space that out more time-wise since Sephy and Shania already have each other.
LOL that is so like Sephy – part of that famous Shiba stubbornness. Sometimes when I ask Sephy to do a Down – he will wait for a bit, do a Stretch, and then accidentally go into a down position from the stretch.
He is such a rebel! 😎
The only time he does commands efficiently and on cue is when I have something he really wants. He will work when he is hungry and there is cheese or freshly boiled chicken on the line.
I like this about Shibas. I don’t like following commands either unless I get something good in return 😀
Julie MacTire says
I posted this link on the TMS Facebook page because it was so awesome. 😀
Glad you enjoyed the article and many hugs to Tierce and Shassi. Love your humorous stories about them!
A big Happy Easter and woof woof to you all 🙂