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  • Courteous K9

Considerations before adding a new dog to the family!

When is the right time? 

Timing is everything when you are wanting to add another dog to the family. In general, it is best to wait to add another dog until your current dog is "mostly trained." Keep in mind, the new dog may learn any of the "naughty" things that your current dog does. Training is not the only thing to consider when you are wanting to add another dog. Dogs' personalities can change a lot from puppyhood to adulthood. Some dogs may start off liking other dogs but as they mature, that may change. Some dogs may start off liking other people that aren't the immediate family but as they mature, that may change. Generally by 2 years old, a dog's personality is pretty set. So, if you are wanting to add another dog, it is best to wait until your current dog is at least 2 years old and is not displaying behaviors you wouldn't want your new dog to learn! 


Another behavioral issue that might pop up if we get our puppies too close together is Littermate Syndrome. This is a little bit of a misnomer- the puppies don't have to be actual littermates, they just have to be close in age. This can also happen if one or both dogs aren't confident. To help reduce the likelihood of littermate syndrome or co-dependency (can affect their relationship with you or their general confidence/psychological health), it is important to give them a routine where they aren't always with each other, have individual time on their own and individual time away from you. 


In addition, think about how much time you have for training your new dog as well. There are many options to assist you such as Day Training programs, but you should plan on enrolling your dog in group classes and be committing to at least one, but preferably a few training sessions a day. As well as managing behaviors as needed so they are unable to practice unwanted behaviors. 


Adopt or Shop? 

This is highly contested question in the dog world. We believe you should adopt OR shop- but do it responsibly.


If adopting there are a bunch of things you should consider: 

Why were they surrendered?

This is probably the most important thing to take into consideration when adopting a dog. Remember, when you are reading how the rescue/shelter is describing the dog, think of it as a dating profile. Most people aren't going to list all their flaws, instead they are going to try and highlight the good things. Try and read between the lines. Things like "takes a while to warm up to new people" -> might not be great with people outside of the immediate family, "loves being with their person" -> might have separation anxiety, "working on manners with doggy friends" -> might not be friendly with all dogs, etc. 

Asking why the dog was surrendered can give you a lot of insight on if they are good with cats/animals/other dogs/children, if they have a bite history, if they couldn't be contained in their yard, if they have separation anxiety, etc. It is also important to be honest with yourself and are capable of.  Have a list of things you are willing to live with and things that you aren't willing to live with. Some dogs behaviors may make it difficult to have friends and family come over to your house, others may make it difficult to leave the home or go away on vacation, etc. 


Meet and Greets

Once you believe that this dog may be a good fit for your family, the next step is to have the entire immediate family meet the dog. You are adding a new member to the family and it is important that everyone gets along. If you have other dogs, it is nice if you are able to bring them and see how they get along as well! 


Trial Adoption?

If the meet and greet went well, ask for a trial adoption! Not every dog is going to be a good fit for every family. We feel it is in the dog and families best interest to try a trial adoption if possible. This way you can see how the dog fits into your every day life and how they act when they are not in a shelter/rescue setting. 

Just remember, a dog doesn't generally show their personality until they have been in an environment for 3 months. 


If shopping there are a bunch of things you should consider: 

The benefit of getting a dog through a responsible breeder is that you are stacking the deck in your favor of getting a dog that fits their breed standards and general characteristics.


What Breed(s)? 

First, you need to figure out what breed(s) you are looking for! You should take into consideration your lifestyle and what your goals are with this dog (energy level, is it important that they are social with all people/dogs, etc.), as well as what issues you are willing to work through or being understanding that some dogs may need more management. Think of reading breed profiles also as dating profiles. For instance "loyal/protective" -> might show reactivity or aggression or "high energy" ->possible over arousal/neurotic/OCD behaviors. In addition, think of the purpose of the breed. For instance, livestock guardian breeds tend to show aggression to people/dogs near their homes, herding and sporting breeds tend to be more nippy or mouthy and have higher energy, working breeds are more likely to show reactivity or aggression, terriers tend to have high prey drive may not be good with cats, small animals, could be dog aggressive, etc. 


There are certainly a lot of variation within any breed, but in general, you should be prepared for the possible breed traits that may develop into maturity. Many unwanted behaviors get more pronounced during maturity (around 6-18 months), but really you will pretty much know the type of dog you have when they are around 2-3 years old. 


Finding a Responsible Breeder

Once you have a breed(s) picked out, then you should begin your search for a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder at a minimum, typically: Health tests for common breed health problems in order to minimize them, does not breed dogs with temperament or structural issues, does not have many litters a year, has an in-depth puppy raising program that involves various aspects of socialization and training so the puppies have the best start as possible, a questionnaire or interview process to make sure that the breed and their puppies are a good fit for what you are looking for, a buyers contract with health guarantee, willingness for ongoing support throughout dogs life as well as the ability (or contractual obligation) to return the dog to the breeder if there are any issues, etc. 


Another consideration: Age of Dog

There are pros and cons to puppies vs older dogs. 


Puppies: 

-Can start them out young with training, may not have bad habits or issues you need to work through. 

-Generally need to potty train and deal with mouthing, crate training, etc. 

-They are super cute

-Don't know their adult temperament 


Older Dogs: 

-Know their adult temperament around people, dogs, kids, energy level, etc. (beware of differences you may see at the shelter/rescue vs once they get settled and comfortable into their home)

-Typically don't need to deal with potty training, crate training, puppy mouthing, etc. 

-May have ingrained habits that you will need to work on with training


Whether you decide to get a puppy or adult dog, you can find them at a rescue/shelter or from a responsible breeder or their connections within the breed. 


Hopefully this gives you some things to think about when you are considering adding a new dog to your family!

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