What to Consider Before Adopting a Second Pet
If you already have a dog or a cat, and think you’d like some more furry fun in your home, don’t add to your brood until you read this. Before taking the plunge and adopting a second pet, there are a few points and potential problems you should consider.
Check Your Motives
Adopting a pet because you and your household are truly ready for a second dog or cat is fine, but never add another animal into the mix to try to solve a problem. Adopting a second pet or a new puppy is not the best way to help your first furball with issues such as separation anxiety or behavior problems cautions Shelby Semel, a New York City dog trainer. “It usually doesn’t accomplish the goal the owner set out for and the stress and issues of [the] first dog can transfer to your new dog and create more work for [the] owner.”
Will They Be Compatible?
You’re not making a love match, but you do need your pets to get along if you want to maintain a peaceful and happy home. Before adopting a second pet, think about your first pet’s personality. Does he like puppies or cats? Is he socialized with other dogs or cats? Does your dog behave when other animals come into your home or near his food or toys? Then, when looking for your potential new pet, find out which cats and dogs have lived in homes with other animals before. You should also ask the shelter if you could bring your current dog or cat to meet the animal you’re considering adopting. This way you can get a sense of whether or not their personalities will mesh. You don’t want to end up with two alpha males at home for example.
Don’t forget that adopting a second pet, while it can be rewarding, can also be costly. Crunch the numbers to ensure you’ll be able to pay for additional supplies, vet bills and walks. Aside from having enough food and toys for both pets, you should also make sure that your dogs have separate beds as this is their personal space and safe haven. And to help avoid mealtime mayhem, she says to provide each pet his own feeding dish. However, sharing a water bowl is usually fine.
While your new pet will probably add some extra love to your life, you’re going to have to dish out extra affection, too. Of course you'll spend time with your dogs while they are together, but you still need to have alone time spent with each one of them so that both dogs get a chance to make a connection with you and receive your undivided affection and attention. Plan to make time to do solo walks with each dog on occasion.
If for any reason you aren’t entirely sure about adding a second pet to your home, consider a trial run. You could foster a pet. “Fostering is perfect for trying a new pet without making a long-term commitment until you are sure that your foster is a great match for your family,” says Sherry Woodard, Animal Behavior Consultant with the Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. This way you’ll be able to get a sense of the added responsibilities and commitment as well as find out how your animal will get along with another pet in the house. “Through spending time with a variety of animals you can find the best match for your home, other pets and lifestyle,” says Woodard. If fostering isn’t an option, you can still meet and spend time with a variety of animals by volunteering.