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Questions For dog Owners to Ask Themselves Before Adopting Another Dog

May 3, 2010

My sidekick Poncho the dog and I recently received a Dear Inquisitive Canine email from a Great Dane named Chenpo asking us about his situation at home. He says his human is considering adopting a second Great Dane, and wanted us to provide advice regarding if she should adopt, and if so, how to go about creating a successful introduction.

Poncho and I discussed both topics and together we decided that he would take care of the dog-dog meeting on our dog behavior advice column, while I would address the topic of Before You Adopt. Poncho’s Dear Inquisitive Canine column can be seen this Friday May 7th on Noozhawk.

Since this is one question I receive so often, I thought I adapt my answers based on the Inquisitive Guardian dog behavior workshop and webinar I offer.

The following is Chenpo’s question:
Dear Poncho,
I am a 4½ year old Great Dane male (intact). My human wants to rescue another Great Dane for me to have as something called a “playmate”. I must confess that other large dogs annoy me and I just want to bark at them.  However, I really, really love people (I always get good attention) and I really, really love to play (almost as much as I love napping).

I currently have a little friend (Maggie) whom I love dearly and we get along quite well (maybe she is this “playmate” thing?). Do you have any pointers that I can pass along to my human, to help her decide whether we should rescue another Dane or not? And, if we do rescue a Great Dane, how should we arrange for the introduction? I want my human to get off on the best paw possible.

May your nose always meet with interesting smells and your water dish be full, cold, and fresh!

Chenpo McCarty

And this is my answer for Chenpo – These are questions I’d have Chenpro’s mom ask herself. We hope he and his mom find it helpful. It’s nice to know she is such a responsible dog guardian!

  • “Why do I want a dog?”

From what you’ve said it seems the main answer to this is so you will have “something called a playmate.” I say a decision of unity is best. Does your human feel “guilty” about leaving you at home alone while she goes to work? If so, then adopting a second dog to keep you company might not be the best solution. If it works out, great. If not, does she have a back-up plan? Dogs can make great companions. But they’re not “baby sitters.”

I appreciate your human recognizes that dogs are social animals, and do better when they have companionship. But sometimes the best companionship is not necessarily of the canine variety, but of the human one. You indicate that you love people. If she wants another dog to keep you company, and you prefer the company of humans, or your friend Maggie, then I say continued play-dates with Maggie, and possibly a pet sitter or dog walker to help fulfill social needs can be another option.

If the reason has more to do with wanting to help another dog, then volunteering with a dog rescue can be another option. Or, fostering. This way, you can all help another dog, but in case something doesn’t work out, you can go to Plan B.

There are days I’d love to have lots of dogs. But I know our home situation doesn’t allow for it. So I volunteer with our local Canine Adoption and Rescue League. It’s a wonderful way to meet and work with lots of dogs. We appreciate volunteers and foster families that take the time to help the dogs and our communities.

  • “Is this the best time in my life to bring another dog home?”

Does your human have enough time in her schedule to help you and another dog adapt to the new home environment and each other? Time for socialization, exercise and training if needed? If not, what resources does she have? Pet sitter? Dog walker? Friends and/or family?

How much time is your human willing to take to look for the ideal “playmate”? In case you and the other dog don’t hit it off immediately, how much time is she willing to spend “training” you (and possibly the other dog) to enjoy each others company?

  • “Are there any foreseeable life changing events in my/our family’s future?”

It’s difficult to predict the future, at least to 100%. But changes in your living situation, employment, health, family dynamics, relationship status all have an affect on others within the family. Dealing with two dogs is much different than just one.

  • “Can I afford it?”

Even the basics can add up, and more so for larger dogs. Add up all of the current monthly expenses, then double it, then multiply that by 12, then the average number of years you and the other dog would most likely be around (10-14). She’ll also need to factor in those unforeseen expenses such as medical costs.

  • “What TYPE OF DOG do I want?”

Poncho and I really appreciate that your human wants to adopt from a rescue, and that she knows which breed she wants. But is she open to adopting a mutt or different breed if you end up hitting it off? I say keep an open mind and adopt according to personality and temperament, not necessarily breed specific. You mention you find other large dogs annoying, but you really like your little friend Maggie. Great! We all have our preferences. Maybe she can look for dogs that are more similar to Maggie’s fun-loving personality?

A few other questions your human will want to ask herself are:

  • What will I do if I have to travel and cannot take you and the other dog with me?
  • Are my current living arrangements suitable for two Great Danes?
  • What if something happens to me? Who will take care of my dogs?
  • Am I physically able to take of two dogs?
  • Do I have enough energy to meet the dogs needs?
  • Am I willing and able to exercise my dog to meet his/her mental and physical requirements?
  • Am I able to keep that up in all sorts of weather conditions?
  • Do two dogs match my current lifestyle?

Dog ownership requires a lifetime commitment, a responsible attitude, and the willingness to make the occasional compromise. I hope that these questions have assisted you with helping your human make a well educated, informed decision. If she does decide to adopt, Poncho and I wish you all the best for a lifetime of happiness together.

For additional help in determining whether to adopt a dog, please check out our FREE Before You Adopt webinar and dog training workshops on our virtual and local dog training inquisitive canine website pages.


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