How to introduce a second dog

I often receive messages asking how I first introduced Woody & Wilma, and whether they got on straight away etc? I think adding a second dog to the family is such a good idea, once you’ve got one dog they’re addictive! So I thought i’d write it all down in a blog post but also don’t need any excuse to share more Woody and puppy Wilma photos¬†[They’re just too cute].

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So the first thing is when is the right time to get a second dog? Is there ever a perfect time? No immediate holidays planned, not too cold and wet to be stood in the garden for toilet training, not too much work on so you can devote all your time to your dogs? It’s hard finding a balance. If you’re getting a puppy I’d always say try and plan for summer time. It’s so much easier to spend those early mornings and regular toilet trips stood in a warm sunny garden with the doors wide open rather than a wet and windy winter storm, but it’s not always unavoidable. Is there a right age gap? Some people get another puppy whilst their first is still a puppy because they love it so much. Personally I think that would be too much work for me as I wouldn’t be able to dedicate enough time and effort to each pup’s training and ever so important socialisation. I don’t believe any dog is ever fully trained, but I’d say wait until you’re happy with your current dogs behaviour. You want their recall and obedience to be good so you can rely on them whilst also training a second. What you don’t want is to then have two dogs that you have no control over.

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With any new dog, whether it’s your 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc I would advise taking a week or two off work so you are there every day with them whilst they settle in. After that you can start to introduce your dog walker etc. But it’s not all about spending time with your new dog, you also need to make the huge effort to spend quality time with your first dogs to show them you still love them to the moon and back.

Woody was 5 years old when I decided to get Wilma, it was quite a large age gap but that really didn’t matter, he was still fit and active with energy for a new friend. Realistically I think I could have introduced a new dog from when he was 3, but our situation just didn’t allow until a couple of years later. But it’s different for everyone, you know your dog and situation best so it’s whatever works for you.

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First introductions: 

Wilma had a 4 hour journey home on my lap¬†[New puppies should always sit on your lap on the way home, no matter what your future travelling plans may be]¬†and because she was only 8 weeks she was not fully vaccinated so any toilet trips on the ground at a services would lead a risk of her catching Parvo or anything else nasty. So when we got home the first thing I did was take her into the garden for a wee. Woody saw I was home through the window so was obviously excited, we let him out to greet us and I sat on the ground with Wilma on my lap. He ran around doing his usual enthusiastic welcome having the occasional sniff of Wilma like “What is that thing!’. Wilma then also couldn’t contain her curiosity and jumped off my lap and face planted the floor¬†[Not the best start I had imagined].¬†

New dogs should always meet on neutral grounds. If it’s two older dogs you can walk them along the road together on lead. If it’s an unvaccinated puppy then the garden is best, although it’s still Woody’s ‘territory’ it is better than inside the house which he is more likely to protect. So I then took both dogs onto the grass so they could investigate each other properly. This is when it went even more not to plan… Woody went off for a wee and Wilma followed him, a little too enthusiastically and went right underneath him. My brand new puppy¬†[Who had the well known puppy smell which I love!]¬†was now covered in dog wee!

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Despite all that it was actually a good first meeting. Woody isn’t the most sociable dog, he doesn’t not like other dogs, he just prefers his own company and doesn’t want to play with them. So he was interested in Wilma but soon got bored and just ran off. In the house he wouldn’t choose to be right next to her which is understandable but he also wouldn’t avoid her. Whichever room you were in they’d both be in there next to you. Thankfully she had stumpy legs so Woody could go on the sofas to settle down out of her way¬†[bet he wished that lasted forever]. It’s important that your existing dog has space to get out of the way and chill out. If it was ever too much he could also take himself upstairs without her. Never force them to be together, but when they choose to, praise them and have fun.

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A commonly asked question is whether it’s better to add a female or male to the house, which combination is better? Personally I don’t think it makes a difference to my dogs, if introduced correctly. Introducing adult entire dogs can sometimes cause issues, but I know of people with both sexes with none neutered and all get on well. It all depends on your individual situation but my dogs are neutered when fully matured and I could add in either sex as a 3rd dog.

I thought it would take a while but after just one week I walked into my lounge and watched them playing together for the first time. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. If you’ve introduced a puppy to an older dog and they play you’ll notice that the older dog weakens themselves on purpose. Woody would trip himself up or play bite even gentler and it was so lovely to see them interact.

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Solo time with both dogs is so important, With Woody it was to show how much I loved him still as he had been an only dog his whole life. At the start it’s easier as the puppy can’t go on walks so every walk was quality one-to-one time with Woody. At home giving extra cuddles to him on the sofa with all my attention on him. For your new dog they need to have their own independence, if they were used to being in a pair 24/7 then for some reason you take them out by themselves they are likely to be nervous and unsure without their best mate. So from the start every so often walk them by themselves and boost their confidence. Woody really appreciated each agility lesson when Wilma was a pup because it was a trip for just him and I. All obedience and agility lessons each dog gets without the other one so it’s proper quality time even now, and it helps me keep building a bond with each one individually.

I wouldn’t leave any new dog in my house to roam free. I crate them not just for their safety so they don’t get up to no good, but to give the existing dogs a break. If I left Wilma to roam free with Woody I can just imagine how much she would have annoyed him, and it’s not worth putting either of them under stress. Obviously that doesn’t have to be long term as I don’t crate them once they’ve settled in.

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Getting a second dog was definitely a great decision, and I’ve loved every second of it. Woody and Wilma are the perfect duo and I couldn’t wish for anything more. I’d love to add a 3rd dog to the gang but I’m not quite ready yet. Plus I’ve only got two arms and struggle if I don’t have a hand per dog. Until then I’ll foster dogs when I can and have the best of both worlds!

If you’re getting another dog, enjoy it all and I hope they bring you the world of happiness!

Thanks for reading,

Megan, Woody & Wilma  x

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