A little over three months ago, we adopted a second dog. Let me rephrase – we adopted a puppy, bringing home our second dog! I’m sure this isn’t news to you if you follow along on Instagram. But if it is…surprise! 🙂
We had been planning to get a second dog for a while. I mean, Roxanne is now over 7 1/2 years old so it has been on our minds for about…7 1/2 years! We were at that point in our lives – and careers – where we knew we had the extra time, money and patience (!) to raise another puppy. So on October 11th, we headed to Saving Grace (a local rescue doing AMAZING work. Please check them out!) and picked up Nugget, who is now our precious Gracie.
You may be wondering the point of this blog post. Yes, it’s partially to share the news of the newest member of our family. But I also wanted to share some things I’ve learned over these last three months. It wasn’t easy to bring a puppy (about 10 1/2 weeks old) into a house with a spoiled 7 year old border collie who doesn’t always do well with bigger dogs. It wasn’t easy being thrown back into all the mischief puppies can – and will – get in to.
I’ll preface this by saying that adopting Gracie was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made – tied only with the decision to adopt Roxanne. To say we’re obsessed with her would be an understatement. But, here’s some things I’ve learned about getting a second dog, since we decided to do so!
*note: this is all my personal experience. I am by NO means an expert, and everyone’s experience will be different. In fact, I’d love all advice you’re willing to send my way 🙂
1. Take your time making the decision. Think everything through!
With Roxanne being over 7 years old, we clearly took a lot of time to think it through! We always talked about “when we get a second dog,” but started having serious conversations about 3 – 6 months beforehand. We talked through what type of dog we might want based on Roxanne’s personality, our living situation and general preference (e.g. we knew we wanted a bigger dog!). Now I will call out that with rescues, you may never know EXACTLY the breed / temperament of a puppy when adopting so be prepared and be flexible.
When deciding to get a second dog, we also knew we wanted to adopt a puppy. For one…who doesn’t love puppies?! Also, Roxanne doesn’t always get along with bigger dogs because she can become territorial. While we – and Roxanne – love small dogs, we knew we wanted a slightly bigger pup. We decided to adopt a puppy so Roxanne could help show it the ropes while it was still smaller than her.
These are all discussions that had to happen before we were ready to bring home another dog.
2. be mindful about introductions
So you’ve decided to rescue a second dog – yay! Before you head to pick them up, be prepared for introductions. Some rescues or shelters require meet-and-greets before approving applications, which is a great way to see how the pup will fit in to your family. This will also provide a neutral location for your current and future dogs to meet.
Meeting on neutral ground is an important part of the introductions. You want to deter any territorial behavior from your current dog, so bring them to a different location to meet – even somewhere up the street. When Roxanne and Gracie met for the first time, we took them on a walk together before stepping foot on our property. Roxanne LOVES walks and is always happy to bring some friends along, so we knew this was a great way to ease her in to life with her new sister.
Be prepared with treats for both dogs for good behavior, and make sure you have them on separate leashes – one person holding one leash, another holding the second. Keep an eye on their body language and monitor their interactions (another reason to have separate people holding the leashes).
Do anything you can to set them up for success in their new lives together!
3. Your dogs may not have an immediate love connection
Hopefully the introductions went well, and your new pup is now living their best life inside your home. Be aware that there will always be a transition period. Some say a new dog isn’t fully settled into your home for at least three months – and it can often be much longer! It also isn’t always an immediate love connection between your dogs. Your current dog is used to being king (or queen) of the castle, so there will be some transition time and teaching needed to get them acclimated to a new dog in their space.
With Roxanne, we soon learned she was territorial of the couch and of any and all toys. We implemented strict “couch privileges” and toy time, where we closely monitored both pups when they were playing / on the couch – and only allowed it when they were calm and playing nice. We also gave Roxanne her own space and allowed her alone time by setting up a baby gate, so only she could have access to “her room” (our bedroom). That’s where we kept her favorite toys and treats, so she wouldn’t feel territorial over them.
Always consult a professional trainer or behaviorist with any questions, concerns or issues that pop up.
4. Training may be completely different
What worked for one dog doesn’t always work for the next. This rings true when bringing home your second dog – what worked for training your first, may not work for your second. Be prepared for additional training needs – and know what training you will put in place.
For example, we’ve always known Roxanne was a bit of a “freak puppy” (in the best way). She never really got into anything, didn’t tear anything up…and really just wasn’t your typical wild puppy. I realize we got VERY lucky with her, and things would be different with Gracie. We immediately signed Gracie up for puppy class to help get her socialized and learn the basic manners, and started out her training at home.
5. It'll change your life - for the better
Your routine will change. What you used to do for one dog will (obviously) double. Costs, training needs, walks etc. While Roxanne is more than happy to sleep in until 9 am, Gracie is ready to eat breakfast by 7 so…I better be awake! And what used to be a quick 20-30 minute walk with Roxanne before work has now turned into two 30 minute walks (each dog separately, while leash training). I need to wake up earlier, have the treats prepared etc.
But what they say is true. Your life will change for the better. You’ll forget what life was like only having one dog, because it’s as if you’ve always had your second. Gracie is the goofiest, sweetest wild girl and Roxanne is still (and will always be) her angelic princess self.