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.
Hello shiba shake!
Me and my partner could use some help!
We brought home Katsumi 6 months ago .. A very obedient well mannered 5 year old shiba. Katsumi came from what we call dog heaven .. Acerage for her and her dog relatives and handful of pack mates to explore and come and go freely .. A very maintained schedule orientated home with constant human interaction. When we first met her she was a very happy dog competing with her pack for our attention .. Even stealing toys from her grandma!
We are having a few concerns .. Dog aggression is one right now .. We introduced her to my friends siberian husky and at first was clear it was going to take some work and after a month or so of constant visits, car rides and walks they are close friends .. Playing and cuddling!
In the last month or so we have notice Katsumi seems “off” not playful her only excitement is her walks. Katsumis eating pattern is off and we have noticed excessive paw licking to the point of paw sores. Katsumi is moping any chance she can get and sleeps as if she has never slept before we are really concerned that dog depression is her cause of withdrawal. Our thoughts are the lack of play mates and feeling alone seeing as her first 5 years was spent in a large dog home. We are considering a second member into our family as we want her to be a happy dog we brought her home with us to give her a happy retirement and happy home! We could use a second opinion
(We are taking her to the vet to get looked at to be sure she is okay and the paws get cleared up)
I think the vet visit is a good idea.
When there are sudden changes in behavior with my dog, I usually rule out physical issues first with a visit to the vet. Sephy’s behavior can change a lot when he is not feeling well. All my dogs love to eat and are usually quite active in the mornings and evenings. When they show a loss of appetite or a sudden change in energy level, it is often because of a physical issue.
What food are you currently giving Katsumi? Sephy has a pretty sensitive stomach, and in the beginning, he started itching and having some digestive discomfort. It turned out that the kibble we were giving him (breeder recommended) contained wheat, which Sephy is allergic to.
Let us know how things go at the vet. Big hugs to Katsumi.
I am engaged, and my fiancé and I live in two separate households until we get married. I have a three year old Amer. Staffordshire terrier which lives indoors. My fiancé does not believe dogs should live indoors, and I truly don’t want to put him outdoors because he loves to be around people. I love my dog with all my heart and I don’t want him to think I have abandoned him. Would getting another dog to keep him company outside help ? I am scared he will become depressed if he is left by himself.
I have a 3 year old Westie, and, a month ago, we moved into a house where a 6 month old female Boxer lives. Anytime the Boxer gets a chance, it jumps on my dog, gets in her space, and/or paws at her…essentially tries to play with my Westie. My Westie always gets upset. She yaps, barks, snarls, growls, and nips at the puppy. I just assumed my Westie was trying to teach the puppy to leave her alone, so I don’t do much about my dog’s behavior except pull her away when it happens. Am I wrong? Should I teach my dog not to protect herself from a puppy twice her size? Whenever, the puppy comes in the room, but doesn’t get close enough to touch my dog, I do tell my dog “no” whenever she starts to stress about the puppy’s presence.
In the meantime, the dog owner and I have been trying “quiet relaxed time” where we are able to get the two of them to relax (lay on the floor) near each other, and we praise them profusely. So, we are making small progress. I’m just really wondering if I should curb her behavior when the puppy tries to “play” with her as described above. (Fyi: The puppy’s owner constantly tries to teach it to stop jumping on my dog and people for that matter). Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Some dogs may not enjoy playing with each other because of size differences, energy level, and play style. At the dog daycare that I used to go to, they would group play-groups based on age, size, energy level and more. For example, small dogs do not generally like playing with my Shiba. He likes to wrestle and has a high energy play style which often overwhelms smaller dogs. He has the most fun playing with larger, high energy dogs, so I pick his playmates carefully and everyone can have fun.
I also have a three legged Husky, and she can get overwhelmed during play by overly energetic dogs that like to jump on her. I make sure to protect her well and stop other dogs from overwhelming her. I always try to step in early and stop things as soon as I see any bad behavior. In this way, things do not escalate in a negative direction. Play should be fun, and if she doesn’t want to play anymore, I make sure that my other dogs leave her alone. What works well for my Husky is to have small play groups where I supervise things closely, and have good control of all the dogs involved. I also throw in many play breaks to manage the excitement levels of the dogs.
In this way, my dogs learn that play with other dogs is fun, and that I will always protect them, so they do not need to use physical aggression to protect themselves.
Hi im hoping you can help with my dilemma. I have a dog, jazzy, she’s 5 years old and as of around 2 years ago she is severely dog aggressive. I’ve taken her to the vet and they said it has something to do with her hitting puberty. we have another dog in the house and she is fine with her they get along great but any other dog she will attack. I have a lot of medical issues and am looking to get a service dog but i don’t know how to go about desensitizing jazzy. i have a friend who helps train other dogs and has a service dog herself and soon we will be trying so get her to be okay with submissive dogs. do you have any tips of how to avoid another attack and trying to get her to be okay with another dog in the house?
Yeah, for something like this I would definitely work with a professional trainer.
Here are some of my experiences with desensitizing my Shiba Inu to other dogs.
I help my dogs get along at home by-
1. Setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and resource ownership rules.
2. I slowly teach those rules to each of my dogs, I supervise them closely, and I resolve conflicts.
3. I set up a fixed routine for all of my dogs, I have a set of consistent house rules, and I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program.
4. I try to create as many positive and rewarding encounters as I can, as well as minimize negative interactions. I use management equipment such as gates, pens, leashes, or muzzles as necessary, to keep things safe for everyone.
5. I manage my dogs’ excitement levels, and help them reduce stress by providing a very structured environment and routine.
I talk more about my experiences in the article above.
We had a Maltese/jack Russell terrier mix. Then about a year later we had a border terrier puppy. Basically they get on very well a pine for each other if anything is happening to the other. However Ruby the Maltese is 4 and Daisy is 2 but now the bigger dog. If Daisy gets over excited she attacks Ruby and a fight ensues. I now know how to avoid it, but if they do fight what is the best way to stop it?
A few articles on breaking up a dog fight-
I make sure *not* to introduce more pain or stress into an already volatile situation-
Breaking up a serious dog fight is extremely dangerous. I would consult with a good professional trainer on retraining, management, and safety techniques.
Jan Parry says
I wonder if you could help.
I have a bearded collie just over a year old and a Brittany 14 years.
Maisie (bearded collie) has started pushing Nala my older dog around, Herding her into corners and biting at her legs. This mostly happens when I come home from shopping etc, and when I get up in the mornings.
I keep them in different rooms if I go out as I do not want my older dog bullied. She has arthritis, cataracts and is becoming a little senile according to my vet.
If I put the older dog in her crate they both bark at each other incessantly.
If the older dog goes into the garden the younger one will run into her knocking her over. I try to have a game with the younger one while the older one is passing water.
Any thoughts or tips would be greatly appreciated.
My young Husky, Lara, is a bit like that. She wants to initiate play all the time, and she often does not realize her own strength.
I have a three legged older Husky (Shania) so supervision and management are key. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and I make sure to consistently reinforce those rules with Lara. For example, she is not allowed to chase Shania. During play, Shania can chase her or they can wrestle as long as both of them are on the ground. Otherwise, I stop play briefly, get them to refocus on me, and calm things down before trying again.
If Shania has had enough, then I make sure Lara does not bother her.
Lara is very energetic so I exercise her well with long daily walks, chasing games with me, and highly supervised play sessions with my other dogs. She also works for all of her food. During play-time, I throw in many play-breaks so that I can manage the excitement levels of all of my dogs.
If I am not home, then Lara and Shania go into separate areas (one in backyard and one in the house), or I set up an enclosure for Shania so that she doesn’t need to worry about being bothered by Lara.
I also set up a fixed routine for all of my dogs, a consistent set of house rules, and I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program. I make sure that whenever Shania wants some quiet time away from Lara, she can have it. I put a lead on Lara if necessary.
I have a dog he is 4 months old and its a bichon frise that is named bonbon. Then we got a red nose whivh is named Honey and they were fine for the first few days until bonbon got jealous of her. Always being with me so he growled at her and bark like if he don’t want her here.
Conflicts often arise between dogs because of resources. When both dogs want the same thing at the same time, and neither dog wants to back down, then a conflict will arise. Frequently, this occurs over food and toys, but it may also occur over affection or attention from us.
With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and if there are conflicts, I deal with it *before* it escalates into aggression. I also try to be consistent and fair with all my dogs. I talk more about what I do in the article above.
If there is aggression, it is best to get help from a professional trainer so that everyone stays safe.
Here is more on how I trained my puppy.
Here is more on how dogs learn.
David and Kuma says
So we brought home our new Shiba puppy from the breeder this weekend. I currently have a seven year old half german shepherd half hound mix and he is showing some aggression towards our little Kuma. While the growling and occasional barking at Kuma is not all the time, Duke has lunged at Kuma a couple of times. My fiancee and I were both close by so we stopped it before it went any further. This was only the third day… so I am a little concerned. I realize that things like this take time… I just really hope Duke will warm up to Kuma.
When we take them outside to walk, they walk fine. Duke does not growl or anything at Kuma. We took them to the park to run around and Duke would just ignore him if he got close. So it seems like it is a territorial issue.
My fiancee lives about an hour from me, so she will be watching Kuma for the first few months. When the pup is more trained and house broken he will relocate to my place. In the meantime we will try to visit each other as much as possible so the two can interact.
Do you have any advice on how to get my older dog to warm up? Or should I not force it?
After I left with Duke, Kuma started having accidents in the house. And the accidents are all near where we keep Duke’s food bowl when we are at my fiancee’s apartment. Could this be Kuma marking his territory since Duke was mean to him? Or could he actually even miss Duke?
Thanks for the time and advice!
David and Kuma says
Oh and by the way, Duke is a rescue dog. He is typically very good with other dogs and loves to play like a puppy even though he is older.
Could is just simply be that he knows Kuma is a puppy and doesn’t want anything to do with a puppy?
I visited Kuma’s page and really enjoyed the pictures and videos. He is really a furry ball of energy! 😀
In terms of getting along, Sephy (my Shiba) didn’t get along with my Husky puppy (Lara) when we first got her home. From Sephy’s perspective, there was this new thing in the house and he was not really sure what to make of her. The new thing takes up the time of his people, takes up the time of his Husky playmate Shania, and keeps pestering him.
Some things that helped with Sephy-
1. I make sure to prevent puppy Lara from pestering Sephy. I set up a fixed routine for Lara, and when she is out and about, I am always there supervising her. If I am unable to supervise, I put Lara in her enclosure with puppy pads. If Sephy is off by himself and doesn’t want to be bothered, I make sure puppy does not bother him.
In this way, both my adult dogs can rest, sleep, and relax whenever they want, free from puppy.
2. I try to create as many positive experiences as possible. For example, I do a lot of training and grooming exercises with puppy. Usually this will attract Sephy’s attention and he will come over on his own. When he does, I include him in our training exercises, and make sure to reward both of them *very, very well* for working together for me. The more positive experiences I create, the more Sephy learned to see puppy Lara as an enhancement to his lifestyle rather than a competitor for resources.
3. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules.
In general, I set up a clear structure and routine for my puppy. I also try to maximize positive experiences with my other dogs, and minimize conflicts. I talk more about what I do in the article above.
As for the pee-ing, I think most dogs have a natural instinct to pee over the scent of another dog, especially when the smell is strong. All of my dogs will pee on areas that smell a lot like another animal (dogs, cats, deer, coyotes, etc.) when we are out on walks. I see it more as a social ritual, more like a ‘Sephy was here’ message. In most cases, my dog has not met the cat, coyote, or other dog before, so there is no history between them.
Here is more on puppy Lara’s first 10 days. The worst thing was that she got hurt during a play session because I couldn’t get to her on time. Sephy accidentally ran into her and she sprained her leg. Because a puppy is small, she can get hurt even from regular play. From then on, I always have a lead on puppy (with a flat collar or harness) and I make sure I am holding onto the lead during play so that I am always right there, and have better control.
I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. Food can be a very useful motivator so I do not free feed any of my dogs. I also set up clear rules about food, toys, and other resources with my dogs so that there is no stealing.
Big hugs to Kuma and Duke!
Les Yates says
We have a 12 year old German shepherd male who although not aggressive, does bark at other dogs when taken out. We also have an eight year old Chocolate Labrador female and both dogs get along well as they have been together since the lab was a puppy. Recently due to a very serious accident at her home my daughter is forced to re home her 1 year old Husky male. We would love to give the Husky a home with us but my dogs have never even met the Husky. What are the chances of all three dogs getting along.
That would depend on the temperament, social tolerances, past experiences, and more of the three dogs.
In addition, I help things along by teaching my dogs that the “new dog” is a big plus to their lifestyle. I set up clear interaction rules, and I try to maximize successful interactions while minimizing negative encounters. I talk more about what I do in the article above.
In this way, my existing dogs see the new dog as an enhancement to their life rather than a competitor for affection, food, and other resources.
we have 4 re-homed dogs and have been asked to take on another. My first dog which was female was pack leader, 2 years ago she mothered a small collie that had been thrown out of a car. This collie was nervous but with my megs help she became better and now with meg gone she is my shadow! The new dog which is a 7 month old female german shepherd and although I am not worried about the others (boys) I am worried they might take against each other and fight. My husband and I have decided that the new dog be mainly ‘his’ so my girl will not be put out. I know to feed in a different place and sleep in different rooms.
Any advise please? By the way we will be gradually introducing the dog. Her owners love her but with 4 children and working full time they cannot give her the time she needs and she is anxious to please.
Some things that help with my dogs-
1. I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, for example, there is no stealing, no humping, and no bullying. I also do not let my dogs correct each other. I set the rules, and I try my best to enforce them consistently and fairly. I find that consistency is very important, so I coordinate things with other family members and we all institute the same rules, and apply the same consequences.
While it is difficult not to have favorites, we try to be consistent with all of our dogs, and build a strong bond with all of them. In this way, when I am sick or need to travel, others in the family can easily step in and not introduce undue stress. Consistent and equal treatment also helps to lessen jealousies and conflicts between my dogs over people time and affection.
2. Initially, I make sure to supervise the new dog very closely, especially during play time and feeding time. I manage excitement levels by throwing in many play-breaks, and try to redirect their energy into positive behaviors. Supervision also allows me to catch any developing conflicts before they escalate into anything serious.
3. I try to create as many positive experiences as I can between my existing dogs and my new dog. I want to teach them that the new dog is a big plus to their lifestyle (results in more fun and more good stuff), rather than as a competitor for people time, affection, and other resources.
Here is more on what I do with my dogs to help them get along.
We recently just adopted a new “second dog” from our local animal shelter. We currently have a two year old male collie Gus who is very sweet in a nature and super passive. He gets along with all the dogs we put him with, and did when we went and met Sadie. At the shelter Sadie was nice and playful, and was nice to Gus. Now that we’ve brought her home its been a nightmare. I set them down to eat and give them two separate bowls and instead of Sadie eating her own she will just growl till Gus doesn’t wanna eat anymore. I give them both the EXACT same toys, and let them have them together and separate but anytime their together Sadie will want her toy and take his just to lay it by her. Gus just seems depressed and sad because he isn’t the type to argue or try and get his stuff back. I’m just not sure if they need more time together or apart? Also, Sadie gets very aggressive if I am petting or paying attention to Gus. The shelter said she is a lab mix. I’m just scared she is actually going to get violent. What should I do?
For more serious cases of aggression it is best to get help from a good professional trainer.
Dog behavior is very context dependent, and a good trainer will be able to see the dog, evaluate her temperament, as well as observe her behavior within the context of her environment and routine.
Dogs may sometimes protect food, toys, and other resources from other dogs and also from people because in the past, they have learned to associate other dogs and people with negative events (e.g. losing their food). This is also known as food aggression or resource guarding.