The love and happiness that a dog brings to one’s household are incomparable. And the delightful experience that canine companionship brings to the family often makes it hard for pet parents to resist welcoming another. There can be several reasons amounting to an affirmation when deciding upon getting a second dog—from bringing a friend for your fur baby back home, and sharing love and warmth with an added family member, to something as random but emotionally-rending as watching an adorable rescue video. While getting your second dog may turn out to be among the best decisions you have ever taken later on, it is still not something to be decided upon impulsively or owing purely to sentiments.

Before you start sifting through pet adoption centres and websites intently, here are a few questions every pet parent should ask themselves:

Does my dog want a buddy?

If you have a furry child back at home, chances are that you are already familiar with their behavioural pattern towards other dogs. It is therefore important for a pet parent to do their homework regarding the same in order to avoid problems ahead. If your reason behind getting another dog is to take your place to entertain the first, then you need to understand that it might not necessarily work out as the parent’s attention and love is a furry child’s goal. You need to ascertain whether your dog really needs a companion or not before you decide upon bringing another home.

Moreover, if your first dog is riddling with certain bad habits like incessant barking, creating a ruckus or ingesting anything that comes their way, getting another dog may just backfire. This is because dogs are innately pack animals and one evil little genius can downright inspire the other, causing all the more mischief and chaos back at home. Dogs do not always teach each-other the right things, but may quickly pick up or mimick the inappropriate ones. Therefore, you need to ensure that your dog is calm, friendly, and trained enough to welcome a new buddy home.

Will this canine baby get along with mine?

If you wish to get a new canine member, you need to take your furry child’s consent and further preferences into consideration. For instance, if you have a senior dog at home, bringing a young and energeticone may significantly impact their quality of life and might even lead to pain and stress for the elderly one. Further, bringing home a dog closer to age as the first may lead to disagreements and fights, thereby fueling aggressive behaviour in both. A gap of a year or two may prove to be an ideal combination, as the activity levels will mostly be the same, but chances of discrepancies will be lesser. Therefore, in order to minimize the risk of hostile demeanor, you need to get a canine child that will be compatible and stay in harmony with the one back at home.

How do I introduce them to each other?

Before committing to bring the second dog home, you need to introduce them both to ensure compatibility. In order to do the same, a pet parent should go for a safely fenced neutral territory as the introduction spot, with both the dogs duly leashed. You need to observe their body language carefully. They might wag their tails in playfulness, seem alert and tensed, bark persistently, or snarl and snap at each other. When it is clear that they have gotten familiar and may get along, leave the leashes and let them be. This will help them bond and strengthen your stance thus. Even once you bring your second baby home, you should keep them away from each other during the initial days, especially in your absence, to minimize indoor stress and the possibility of a ruckus.

Do I have enough time and resources to attend them both?

You need to ensure that you are capable enough to allocate adequate time and resources to both the canine babies. You may need to invest more than twice the amount of time, money and efforts in both of them. Moreover, each of the fur children will need special individual with you. This is because dogs tend to feel insecure if they are not given enough time and attention, especially when compared to the other. If you spend more time with the new baby, the first one may begin disliking and display aggressive behaviour towards them. Doing activities and playing games that would include both the babies while tending to each equally may be the best way to start!

How do I ensure good behaviour?

One of the most common misconceptions that pet parents have is that two dogs are easier to train and exercise than one, as they may alleviate responsibilities by teaching each other. On the contrary, disciplining them both at the same time is a much harder task. And therefore, each dog needs individual training before they can be disciplined together. Try to train them separately in order to ensure peace and harmony at home. Feed the dogs apart, give them different toys and keep them separately in the initial days, especially when you are not home, in order to avoid confrontations and chaos. Treat them to treats as rewards when they are together, to establish the standards of cordiality, discipline, and good behaviour in them.

Having two dogs at home may mean more than twice the efforts, but the joy, love and fun will be unparalleled, too! Once both the canine babies start behaving like a family, all the efforts will be paid off well and being their parent will become one of the best and most memorable things to have happened in your life ever. Happy Pet Parenting!

(The writer is founder and CEO at Dogsee Chew)