Biscuit, a friendly Golden Retriever, has lived in your Evanston home for about three years since arriving as a puppy. She’s developed into a full-fledged member of the family. Everyone loves her. In fact, the family’s adoration of Biscuit so complete that you’ve all decided it’s time to enhance the experience – you’ve decided to adopt another dog.
This is understandable. Moreover, it’s not just that you want to have another dog to love; you also want Biscuit to have someone else to play with, to run around your Evanston yard with. You believe that the answer to the question ‘What is better than having a dog in the family?’ is ‘Having two dogs in the family.’
Your concern now is whether Biscuit and the new dog you bring home will share your enthusiasm. What if they don’t get along? What if they fight? These are valid concerns.
While you can’t guarantee that two dogs will get along you can take steps that will go a long way to helping two dogs get along.
The most important aspect of helping two dogs get along is the approach. Dogs are very territorial. It’s part of their pack mentality, which is part of their DNA. When one dog comes into another dog’s territory – enters the other dog’s pack (and, from your dog’s perspective, you and the family are part of the pack), there is a question of whether the new dog will fit in – whether it will be accepted.
What helps is if the dogs can meet on neutral territory. Instead of bringing the new dog directly into the your Evanston home, you can introduce them to each other at an unfamiliar park – unfamiliar to both of them.
You also want to avoid situations that would cause jealousy between the dogs, particularly until they’re acclimated with each other. If you show favoritism to one dog over the other, the dogs will notice. They’re attuned to that kind of thing. You may want to separate them at dinner time, until they’ve established their relationship.
Problems can arise if both dogs are of the same sex. Of course, ‘problems’ can also arise if the dogs are of opposite sexes. In the latter case, special steps should be taken to avoid the unexpected arrival of additional puppies into your Evanston home.
Whatever the sexes of your dogs, it’s important that you allow them to get to know each other without trying to force their relationship. You want to ‘mediate’ carefully, if they don’t seem to get along (be careful and don’t stick your arm or body between them if they fight).
There is some evidence that neutering a male dog will make it more amicable about the idea of getting along with another dog. This also addresses the other problem with having two dogs, of opposite sexes, living together.
Of course, you could throw the dogs together and hope for the best. In that case, the odds are less than 50/50. But, if you approach the potential relationship of two dogs living together seriously, you can go a long way to helping them get along.