Bringing up a puppy is hard work and requires lots of time, energy and commitment. To bring up a pup when there is already an existing dog in the family, however, makes the task ahead harder, because you not only have the new pup to consider, but also the older dog. Puppies tend to follow the lead of an older dog, which can be a positive so long as the older dog sets a good example.
Before you decide on whether getting another dog would be right for you and your family, you must assess your situation and very carefully examine your reasons. Along with the extra time factor, you can find other variables to take into account, such as:
- Have two dogs a big enough car to transport with the adequate room?
- Can you afford the added expense?
- Do you have space in your house?
If you are thinking of getting another dog for the sake of your existing dog, however, stop right now! You should only ever get another dog for you.
I’ve had many clients who’ve sought my help as a behaviourist because, in an attempt to solve their dog’s issues, they decided to get him a ‘friend’. Unfortunately for them, instead of one dog with an issue, they ended up with two dogs with issues!
Never get another dog because:
- Your dog is lonely, chews things and is destructive when left alone, and you think another dog will keep him company.
- Your dog is boisterous and excitable, and you think another dog will tire him out.
Remember that dogs always seem to copy bad behaviour, rarely the good!
So, after careful thought and consideration, you make the decision, take the plunge, and welcome a new puppy into your home. One of the first and biggest challenges you face is how to make sure it’s you, not your older dog, that becomes the focus of your puppy’s world. It may sound easy, but believe me, it’s not all that straightforward. Think about it: you have to become more motivating and appealing than your pup’s own species.
You must spend quality, individual time with the pup. You must make sure you do not let your other dog feel pushed out and become envious when doing this. To prevent this from occurring, be sure you’ve like giving them a bone lined up a treat in the form of an enrichment activity for your older dog.
Socialisation & Habituation
You need to make sure your pup grows up to be confident in his own right. To achieve this you must ensure you socialise and habitualise the puppy without your other dog present. That said, if your pup is displaying any fear, it may help him gain confidence if he’s in the company of your older dog, so long as the older dog is confident. Once the puppy is happy with things while the dog’s there, you can then reintroduce the pup to that particular scenario without the older dog around.
One of the most common mistakes made is for the two dogs to be allowed constant access to one another; invariably this leads to them play fighting. While pups need to learn to play and get along with other dogs, remember most eight-week-old pups will have been living with their mother and siblings, so they’re already quite well-versed in the art of canine communication.
The truth is, letting the pair play fight can really cause massive problems. This is because the older dog, by virtue of his size, will often allow a play that is quite rough, and by doing so he inadvertently teaches the pup to be over-boisterous and impolite when greeting and playing with other canines. This frequently ends up with the youthful dog being told off or place in his position by others, which may result in him becoming wary around other dogs. On the other hand, sensible older dogs can set a good example to an over-zealous pup.