Thinking of Adopting a Second Dog?

Thinking About Adopting a Second Dog?

To help you decide if adopting another dog is a good idea for your family, the Michigan Humane Society recommends that you consider the following: 

About Your Current Dog:

  • Does your dog have any behavior problems you wish he didn’t?
  • Does your dog like other dogs?
  • Has your dog ever lived with other dogs?  If yes, were the dogs friends?
  • How active is your dog?
  • How old is your dog?  Is he in good health?
  • Is your dog needy/constantly seeking attention from you?
  • Is your dog possessive (growls, snaps, bites to protect) of food/toys/family?

About the Potential New Dog:

  • Has this dog lived with and gotten along with other dogs?
  • How old is this dog?
  • Is this dog active/calm/nervous/jumpy?
  • Is this dog possessive of toys/food/attention?
  • Is this dog pushy for attention?
  • What is this dog’s sex?  At what age was he/she neutered/spayed?

About Your Family:

  • Are you prepared for double the expense (medical costs, food, etc.) and double the work (poop scooping, vacuuming, training, walking which sometimes must be done separately - etc.)?
  • Do you want another dog for you…or for your dog?
  • Does everyone in your home want another dog?
  • Have you ever lived with more than one dog?

It’s a Good Match if:

  • Both dogs are in approximately the same physical health
  • Both dogs are spayed/neutered
  • Both dogs show play behaviors like bows, chase games and toy sharing
  • Both dogs will be able to settle down after a good play session
  • Both dogs will have the same energy level/activity level
  • Both dogs will have the same play style (running, light mouthing, rough wrestling, etc.)
  • The dogs may lick each other’s lips
  • The dogs trade submissive roll-overs during play one dog is on the bottom, then the other 

It’s a Not-So-Good Match if:

  • Either dog hides or tries to escape the other
  • Either dog rushes up and is overly invasive of the other dog’s space
  • Either dog shows aggression (snapping, growling, biting, etc.)
  • Either dog uses an averted gaze (turns head and eyes away from the other) and does not attempt to play or meet
  • One dog avoids the other
  • One dog becomes jealous of the other
  • One dog is bullied or intimidated by the other (one dog constantly being picked at or always on the bottom during every play sessions)
  • One dog paws hard at the face and shoulders of the other, who doesn’t like it
  • One dog plays too rough and makes the other squeal

Other Helpful Hints:
Some people believe that pairing spayed/neutered dogs of the opposite sex is one way to help ensure harmony between dogs. While this can work, there truly are no guarantees.  It really boils down to each dog’s personality.  For example, if your dog is “status seeking” you would want to find a companion dog who is not interested in ranking high in your family “pack” (a more submissive dog).

Sex can play a definite role in compatibility, especially if the animals are intact (not spayed/neutered).  The longer a male dog is intact, the higher the level of testosterone in his system, and the more likely he is to assert himself which can lead to aggression.  But, again, nothing is 100% certain.  And female dogs who decide not to get along are more likely to cause damage to each other than males.

Next Steps:
If you’ve decided that:

  • You are ready and able to provide double the time, effort and finances
  • Your dog doesn’t guard his belongings (including you!)
  • Your dog is in good physical shape and can enjoy play time
  • Your dog is well behaved and doesn’t have any bad habits he/she could teach a new dog
  • Your dog isn’t overly pushy or demanding
  • Your dog likes the company of other dogs
  • Your family is in agreement that adding another dog is a good idea

Good for you!  The Michigan Humane Society strongly urges you to bring your dog to the adoption center to meet the potential new dog you’ve selected before you adopt.  Our trained adoption counselors can help you determine whether the two dogs may be compatible in your home.  Of course, nothing is “for sure” and if you have any questions with a current pet, or after taking your new dog home, please contact the MHS Behavior Help Line at 248.650.0127 for free behavior coaching/advice.

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