What to Think About When the New Dog is the Older Dog?
February 16, 2017 6:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm a relatively new dog owner considering adding a second dog to my household. I've been doing research about how best to go about introducing them to each other, but I have a couple outstanding questions.

About a year and a half ago, I adopted Licorice. She's about 19 pounds, almost 5 years old and I don't know what breeds she is (something pretty stocky mixed with some kind of terrier?). She is quick to learn, eager to please, and SUPER friendly to people. She is happy snuggling on the couch, but will also gladly go on a run of a few miles.

Recently, I've been thinking about getting a second dog. I wasn't thinking too seriously, until all the sudden I was, because the seemingly perfect dog cropped up.

The prospective dog is a 10-year-old male Schipperke who is being given up due to his owner's health issues. He is described as "spunky, playful, and full of life ... very well behaved in the home, house broken ... has the greatest personality and is affectionate and eager to please. He loves long walks and long snuggles."

So basically, he's the older male version of my current dog.

My questions:
  • Are there any best practices for bringing an older dog into a household as the new dog? Most everything I can find is about introducing a puppy as the second dog to the older first dog.
  • Am I heading in the wrong direction with seeking a dog so similar in personality to my current dog?
I'm scheduled to go meet the prospective addition this weekend, so would love to know of what I should be looking out for.
posted by pixiecrinkle to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Would it be possible to arrange for a doggy park meet 'n greet? See how they get along in a relatively safe environment, and let them interact with one another for a bit? And then just sort of...both of them come home with you?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:10 PM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh and I trust they are both desexed, of course.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:11 PM on February 16, 2017

Just have them meet in an off-leash area and run around for a bit. Dogs can be weird if you introduce them on leashes (one of mine is aggressive as shit if he's on a leash, off leash he's a big teddy bear). Get more dogs! It's great! We just went from 2 to 3, and it's been great, they took to each other after just a minute.
posted by so fucking future at 7:18 PM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, both are fixed.

This is all helpful, but I should have been clearer -- I'm interested in the best practices in the day 2 - week 2 range, rather than the immediate meeting.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 7:29 PM on February 16, 2017

Oh. Well in that case, dogs sort themselves out very quickly. Don't show favouritism to either and put their food down at the same time and they'll be fine.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:32 PM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, just be there so you can intervene if you need to, for the first few days. You want to be most vigilant around food or toys, and be careful about how many territorial situations you let happen at any given time, but you do need to let some happen and just make sure you're able to step in or redirect if you need to.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:15 PM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Balancing out the treats is a really good way to discourage rivalry.

Grab six tiny bits of treat and sit with the dogs. Our dogs both know how to sit and wait for a treat, so we make them sit first. And then you treat them one at a time, saying their names right before each time, and eventually swapping out the order.

LICORICE (and then give her a treat)
NEW DOG (and then give him a treat)

LICORICE (and then give her a treat)
NEW DOG (and then give him a treat)

NEW DOG (and then give him a treat)
LICORICE (and then give her a treat)

This worked wonderfully with our dogs (that don't live together but often stay together for a week or so at a time). They both see they're getting the same thing, so they don't fight over food.
posted by mochapickle at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Oh boy, I'd like to respectfully suggest that there is a buch of potentially problematic information in the above advice. Every dog is an individual and just like people, dogs can not be counted on to behave in prescribed ways that are always easy and convenient. Additionally, many dogs mask their true personalities and behavior when they are in stressful situations like being introduced into a new household.

I think it is wonderful that you are considering adopting an older dog. As an older dog it may be just a bit harder for new dog to settle in to your household. Be prepared to go through an adjustment period. The dogs are capable of sorting out dominance amoung themselves, but you may want or need the advice of a professional dog trainer or behavioralist in order to decide which behaviors they exhibit are worrisome and which are not. I would not feed them near each other at first as food and eating is a common thing for dogs to use to establish dominance. I would also recommend walking your dogs together (on leashes) as the first thing you do when you bring new dog home. Pack walks are the very best way to give dogs the idea that they are a family. Its lower stress and nuteral territory. A dog park is a very bad place to introduce new dogs who need to think of each other as pack members. Also the dogs need to be leashed at first so you can control them. Walk them a little ways apart from each other and gradually get closer and closer. Most dogs love walks so they will be in a good mood and somewhat distracted by SMELLS OMG! I would continue to do pack walks everyday for a good long while to help your dogs bond. In fact all dogs, even small dogs should be walked every day no matter what. Its essential to their health and happiness.

Good luck to you with your new dog. Its lovely to see an older dog getting a good home.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:27 AM on February 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have done this, and in our case, we actually met several prospective new dogs to take in before deciding on one that was the right fit with our younger (but established with us) dog. It was apparently to us pretty quickly which dogs would not be a good fit with our younger dog (or our small child). With each dog we met, we took the dogs for a walk together. The older dog we have now was the only one that our younger dog just basically ignored once they started walking. We took that as a good sign. I guess what I'm getting at, despite your update, is that you need to be prepared that this could go either way, and in my opinion, trying to force this relationship is probably not what is best for either of your dogs.

In the longer term, I agree to not feed them together at first, but to continue to walk them together. Keep them supervised when hanging out together at first -- not like sitting there staring at them, but I wouldn't recommend leaving them alone together and uncrated while you go to work right away.

I wish you the best of luck. Our older dog has brought a tremendous amount of joy into our lives, and I hope the same for you.
posted by freezer cake at 10:18 AM on February 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Make sure both dogs have their own space. So their own beds and those beds aren't in the same place, if you crate don't have the crates jammed up next to each other, give each dog their space while they settle in. Then you can slowly move them closer depending on how your dogs react.

Remove anything that Licorice might feel possessive over at least to start with. So fav. bed, toys etc. Bring in some news ones is a good way to start if you can & just remove the old ones for now, again the old toys can come slowly back into service (supervised at first) as the dogs settle in.

Watch the doggy body language, dogs rarely just start fighting & will give lots of signals, younger enthusiastic dogs may just bound right through those signals. Look for nervous lip licking, yawning & looking away these are both signals dogs give each other to say hey I'm not a threat I'm nervous & not wanting to start trouble but feel uncomfortable. Feel free to call the other dog away a this point. There may well be a few small scuffles as dogs learn each others signals, or there may not be depending no how well socialized with other dogs both dogs are, but most dogs like to please other dogs as well as people so will try to work out how to get along.

Take them on lots of pack walks together. Basically all of you, humans & dogs go for a walk together. This is a great bonding activity for all of you.

Feed separately. Even once they are used to each other, even if it's just opposite ends of the kitchen.

No matter how well trained both dogs are there may be some regression in house training with the introduction of a new dog. Also the new dog has to learn a new toilet routine. New dog will be on it's best behaviour for the first few weeks most likely, but may try pushing a few boundaries with you and Licorice a few weeks in when it feels more settled. This doesn't mean it's becoming a bad dog & will most likely revert back to good behaviour if you maintain your rules gently but firmly but it's good to know it's coming.

If any problems do come up a good dog trainer is cheaper than you might think and an hour or two of one on one time can help with a lot of problems.
posted by wwax at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for all the advice.

I wasn't 100% on this guy being the right dog, but they got along splendidly when we met this afternoon, and Jack, the new old guy came home with us.

They are currently snoozing on the couch and ignoring each other, which I take as a raging success so far, considering it's only been a few hours.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 6:23 PM on February 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

posted by turbid dahlia at 7:13 PM on February 19, 2017

Ignoring & comfortably snoozing that close to each other so early on is a great sign. Hell my dogs have known each other 7 years & still won't share a couch. :) Give both dogs a pat from an internet stranger & congrats on the new family member.
posted by wwax at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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