CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE
Many parents choose to have more than one child because they worry that an only child would be lonesome without a sibling to play with. There are also many important social skills and aspects of development that siblings benefit from. Naturally, pet owners often think that having more than one pet would be as equally as beneficial in preventing an animal from experiencing loneliness. But there are a lot of things to consider before adopting an additional pet.
First, how much a pet will benefit from having a sibling in the house depends on their unique personality. "Many dogs do great with having another dog around, and some are perfect being the only dog. It really depends on your particular dog and that dog's personality and also its previous history – for example, if the dog has always had other dogs around or if it has been traumatized by another dog." [http://www.everydayhealth.com]
Before making a decision to bring home another dog, keep in mind there are lots of ways to provide your pet with social interaction, exercise, playtime, and structured social training. Our puppy preschool is one example of a highly successful approach to socialization that doesn't rely on having more than one puppy in your home, but uses a structured puppy playtime to facilitate skill building. Taking your dog to a dog park is another great strategy, or scheduling dog walks with neighbors and family members that you can take together, allowing the dogs to interact and learn how to cooperate with one another.
Similarly, cat owners "can encourage activity by using toys to play with their pet at least 10 minutes (and ideally more) a day. This interaction not only helps with weight maintenance, but it can also assist in keeping their minds active…"
If you are convinced your family is ready to invite a new member of the pet family into your home, it's advisable to consider a younger animal (puppy or kitten), because they will be more adaptable and malleable. Another tip: "Introducing a new animal can also be easier when they are spayed or neutered."
It's important that your first pet is well-trained before introducing another pet. Otherwise the new pet can make pre-existing behavior issues worse as they may beg for attention or act out in ways to cope with the change. When it comes time for the first introduction, "Slow interactions are best for bringing a new animal into a house. Initially, smelling each other under the door, then seeing each other in a neutral location, and finally supervised interaction."
Of course having two pets can be a ton of fun and add even more playfulness to your home as long as you facilitate the transition to be as smooth as possible. For example, make sure that your pets have separate sleeping spaces, equal amounts of amenities (like cushy beds) and separate food and water bowls. You may also consider consulting a knowledgeable pet trainer and handler to help facilitate the introduction of your newest pet and to teach both animals good manners and behavior in regards to interacting with one another. Remember that the sooner you start training, the better! By starting training from day 1 in your home, your pet is set up for success because he has clear boundaries, leadership and expectations. It's much more difficult to make a meaningful impact on behavior once patterns have been ingrained or overlooked for too long.
Read more about training tips and strategies on our website, and contact us if you're planning to adopt a second pet. We have 16 years of experience handling animals and would love to support your family in creating a harmonious household with your pets!