Twice as Nice

Multiple dogs: Double the fun...or double the trouble?

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Golden RetrieversThe decision to add a second dog to your household is a tricky one. While there is no guarantee that a new addition will bring bliss to your household, there are a few methods that can maximize your chances for a happy canine family.

Use the Force. Let a puppy play Luke Skywalker to your older dogs Obi-Wan Kenobi. The puppy will absorb everything from guest-greeting manners to leash etiquette from your been-there-done-that dog. (Likewise, the puppy will also pick up any negative habits, so bone up on your adult dogs behavior before you bring a puppy home.)

While this doesn't mean you can shirk puppy training responsibilities, a well-mannered older dog functions as a marvelous canine teacher, says Pat Miller, a certified dog trainer and author of The Power of Positive Dog Training (Wiley, 2001). If the first dog is well-trained and well-behaved, the new pup will learn appropriate behaviors by copying the first.

Avoid sibling rivalry. Don't get two dogs from the same litter. Siblings mature at the same rate and can vie for the role of top dog, especially if no other dog is on the scene. Same-sex littermates are a definite no-no. Littermates raised together are more likely to develop close relationships with each other than with the human family members, says Miller. This is not mentally healthy for them. Raising one puppy is a lot of work. Raising two puppies is at least four times as much work.

Opposites attract. Increase the chances of a blissful match by mixing sexes. If your current dog is female, shop for a male. This mix is especially helpful if you end up with two dogs with similar inclinations toward dominance.

Think complementary temperaments. A high-strung dog doesn't need a high-energy pal upping the anxiety quotient. Temper extreme characteristics by getting a second dog with opposite breed tendencies. While a new puppy might not soothe an excitable dog or embolden a shy one, getting a dog with an opposite attitude may bring a sense of balance to your household.

That new puppy could remain a part of your family for 15 years, so take the time to research and find the right puppy for your household. A little work now could save many headaches and even heartache down the road.

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Cynthia   Marston, OR

3/18/2010 7:53:28 AM

Well. I took the plunge and added 3rd thn quickly a 4th.I have 2 mals 11 months and 2 yrears and 2 femals 5months and 7
months.
It has totally changed my job!!! In some ways it is more as I walk one dog at a time briefly for leash training and not at home skills but they have an acre to run and play with each other. also play fetch for awhile with the oldest one alone. On the other hand by day 2 the balance that happened as mentioned was sensational! It has continued...gotten better. MAYBE it was the 2 year old easy low keyed male German Shepherd. A good one he is and a good one is about the best dog ever bred! I am so glad I did this and so are they! Visit us at CORBY- OREGON- Yellow mix, Toy Poodle, Chocolate mix and German Shepherd

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Stephanie   North Canton, OH

10/21/2009 8:57:52 AM

Great info-thanks a lot! I will keep this in mind when we are ready for another dog :)

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Mandy   NY, NY

5/5/2008 6:30:57 PM

good info!!!!!

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Kelly   Kewaskum, WI

2/16/2008 8:09:56 AM

Twice as nice worked for us....now it's Third Dog's a Charm! 3 VERY different breeds (Chihuahua, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd) keep each other entertained and active, but all bonded wonderfully. Two larger dogs wrestle all-out, and are great exercise for each other, but the little guy is the Alpha leader, and isn't afraid to show the others who's boss!

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