Editor’s note: To celebrate National Train Your Dog Month, we got together with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to run a series of posts through January. Read others in the series: “Dog Training Is Important,” “5 Time-Saving Tips for Training Your Dog,” “How to Find the Perfect Dog Trainer,” “Train Your Dog in Nose Work,” “I Got a Puppy I Didn’t Want — But Training Her Helped Me Grieve the Dog I’d Lost,” and “What to Expect from Your Dog’s Training.”
If you are like 40 percent of U.S. pet owners, you have (or would like to have!) more than one dog. Before bringing a new dog home, there are a few things to think about.
It is a common misconception that you will be fine as long as you get a dog that is the opposite sex of your dog. While this is often a factor, it’s not the only one — and is certainly not the most important.
The most important thing is personality. If your dog tends to be confident, assertive, controlling, or pushy around other dogs, look for a laid-back companion. Also, try to match energy level. If your dog is energetic, rambunctious, and playful, avoid fearful or shy dogs –- and vice versa.
It’s common to want to get a puppy for an older dog to “help him feel young again.” This is code for “I want my dog to be young again,” and should be avoided! Would you gift your grandparent with a toddler? Probably not. Senior dogs rarely want (or enjoy) puppies or adolescents. If you absolutely must get a new dog for your senior, consider an adult, laid-back dog (or another senior!) who will be company without being a pain.
Afteryou’ve identified what your dog would like, you can take the time to think about what you would like.
When looking for a new dog, always stick to local shelters, rescues, or reputable breeders. Never get a pet online who you cannot meet first. On your first trip to see the dog, consider leaving your resident dog at home. If the weather is appropriate and your resident dog enjoys spending time in the car, you may be able to bring them along just in case.
As you look, focus on dogs who fit the criteria you already identified. Ask to spend time with them in a quiet area or outside , and spend at least half an hour getting to know each other.
Don’t let barking or jumping deter you if you are looking for a shelter dog. When you meet a shelter dog, you may be seeing the worst-case scenario in terms of energy! Let them get their ya-yas out, and then really get to know them.
Once you think you have found a candidate or two, the final decision is always up to your pooch, whether you like it or not. Make an appointment to come back with your dog, or go grab them out of the car. If your dog is stressed out by the area, you won’t get an accurate reading of how she feels about the potential new pup. You may even have to come back multiple times before your dog gets used to the location.
Alternatively, some shelters are willing to meet you in a place where your dog is comfortable. Still other shelters will let you take the pet home for the meeting.
Regardless of where the first meeting takes place, here are a few simple things to try:
About the Author: Katenna Jones is the director of educational programs for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and volunteers as a responder for Red Star Animal Emergency Services. She is the author of Fetching the Perfect Dog Trainer: Getting the Best for You and Your Dog and received the Animals as Other Nations Award (2012), from the International Animal Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.