Being a pet owner is one of the most rewarding things on earth. Having unconditional love for your pet and getting unconditional love back (in the case of dogs, at least, we will leave the jury out on cats!) feels awesome. What do you do when something makes you feel awesome? You try to replicate the feeling, of course.
This is one of the reasons multiple pet ownership is on the rise, slowly but surely: in 2012, 42% of pet owners cared for more than one pet. This rate rose by 2% in 2013 meaning that almost half of all pet owners owned more than one animal buddy.
We guess you are on this page because you already own a Staffordshire Bull terrier and are considering bringing in another pet to the home. This article focuses on introducing a new dog to the family. Our other article <to be linked to> describes how to introduce other animals.
The most important thing to say is that having a second (or third!) dog join the pack can bring huge benefits to both you and your Staffy. Not only does having canine company and a buddy to play with alleviate boredom and take some of the pressure off you to entertain, it can also help considerably with your Staffie’s manners around other dogs.
Of course, introducing a new dog to your home, and your Staff, can pose a few challenges. The transition can easily be made less stressful by taking on board a few hints and tips that will make your life easier, and the process a lot more welcoming for both your existing and new furry friends.
Keep reading to discover how to make the introduction of a new dog to the household as problem free as possible!
Choosing Your New Dog Or Puppy
“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.” We all know that saying, and it applies to introducing a new dog into your home. Before you even start looking for a new dog or puppy, ask yourself why. Is it for a gift? Are the kids guilt tripping you? Have you had any stressful events occur recently?
Whilst none of the above reasons are complete ‘no-nos’ as reasons for getting a new dog, they may indicate that a dog isn’t what you actually need and will be filling in for something else. ONLY bring home a new dog or puppy if it will be good for you, your family, your dog and the new dog. If anyone will be upset by getting a new dog, don’t do it!
Right, on to choosing the right dog or puppy for you. Whilst having an emotional connection with a dog is super important, it’s also crucial to find a breed that will fit in with your existing set up. Bringing home an excited Springer Spaniel puppy to meet your aged Staffy who likes a half hour walk each day could cause problems in the future. Picking out a dominant dog, or one that isn’t dog friendly, could also end in tears! Do your research and up the chances of everything working but long term by choosing the right dog.
It’s easy for us to say “choose the right dog”, but how can you find out what the right dg is for you and your existing pet? There is no definitive answer to this question, but it’s worth considering the following factors.
Top Dog Tantrums & Temperament
Is your Staffy a bit of a dominant character? It goes without saying that bringing home another ‘alpha male’ could cause a kerfuffle. Is your existing dog a bit quieter and reserved? Then expect another dog to show some dominant behaviour. Whilst it is tempting to intervene and prevent dominant or submissive behaviours, it’s best to just supervise contact and let the dogs muddle through it by themselves. They will sort out pack standings between themselves.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are a medium sized dog so it is important to consider the size of a new dog. Too small and they could end up getting roughed up during a rambunctious playtime. Too big and your Staff could wind up being on the receiving end of a big dog not knowing how powerful they are!
How To Introduce Your Two Dogs
OK, this is the important bit. The introduction of the new dog to the old sets the tone for everything that happens afterwards, so it is important to get this right. Introduce your new dog with care and you will reap the benefits long term.
Your Staffy has already claimed your house as his or hers whether you realize it or not!) Imagine someone rocking up at your front door and saying ‘I’m moving in!” then dropping all their stuff off in the hall before making themselves a sandwich. Not ideal, huh? It’s the same for our poochy friends. They need to get to know each other before inviting someone home, just the same as us humans do.
Ask a family member or friend to come with you for a walk, somewhere you haven’t been before with your existing dog. This ensures that there isn’t a sense of ownership. Make sure the two dogs arrive separately – your existing dog with you and the new dog with your companion. Having someone your dog knows walk with the new canine will make the meeting easier. The new pup will seem less of a threat.
Keep both dogs apart and ensure leads are loose on both dogs, so they aren’t stressed out by tightness around the neck. Start your walk with you and your Stafford in the lead, with the new dog behind. Assuming they seem to tolerate each other, gradually move the new addition closer to your Staffy.
Allow them to have a sniff of each other and say hello. If they show good manners, give them lots of praise, and maybe a treat if you are so inclined!
Getting To Know You
Now it’s play time! If everything goes well during the walk and introduction, take both doggies to a fenced off area where they can have a play. Keep them both on the lead at first, but let them off if they seem to be comfortable with one another for some off-lead interaction.
If your dogs display any of the following behaviours, things are going well!
- Chilled out body movements
- Open mouths
- Tail wagging and butt wiggling
- Bowing with elbows on the ground and derrieres in the air or playful bouncing around
It’s now time to take your precious pets home. If you have a secure garden, continue the socialisation there before bringing them into the house. This gives the new dog time to process all the new sights and smells.
It also gives your existing Staff an opportunity to get used to the new dog being on ‘their turf’. Let them wear themselves out playing: a tired dog is a more relaxed dog!
Keep Your Eye Out
As much as we would hope that every introduction ends up with the two dogs snoozing together in a bed, not everything always goes to plan. Just like humans, sometimes dogs just don’t take to each other.
It’s pretty easy to spot if something is going awry, but there are some specific red flags to keep watch for:
- Closed mouth
- Mechanically moving tail, held high
- Standing very stiffly, as if on alert
- Forward facing ears
- Avoidance of one dog by another
- Tail tucked under the body
- Flat ears
These behaviours should set an alarm bell ringing. If these behaviours are repeated or last for a long time, you may need to reconsider taking ownership of the new dog. If this isn’t an option and your breeder or animal shelter refuses to take the dog back (reputable ones should and would) then you have some work to do, but all is not lost!
If possible, see if a friend or relative is able to look after the new dog on a short-term basis and try introducing the two pooches on multiple occasions, taking it very slowly. If this approach does not work, then a professional trainer would probably be a good investment, as they can help create an atmosphere of cordiality, if not friendliness!
Preparing Your Multi Pet Home
Your Staffordshire Bull Terrier and your new doggy friend have got on outdoors and everything seems hunky-dory. Hurrah! Don’t forget that sharing your home with someone new is very different to spending a couple of hours with them outside! There is still work to do.
Your Staffie has already claimed the best sleeping, eating and playing spots in the house, and might not be too enthusiastic about sharing them. Follow these tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
Chucking both dogs into the kitchen to sleep, eat and play straight away just isn’t going to cut it. The introduction needs to occur in stages, and slowly, in order to get the best results. Keep your housemates separate, even cordoning off a separate room for the new arrival if necessary.
Baby gates are a great way of partitioning off your home but allowing interaction between your canine pals.
Allow your Staff to roam free around the house and the opportunity to peer through barriers to see what the new dog is up to.
This is the fun part! Start doubling up on everything: beds, toys, crates, collars, leads and poop bags!
Jealousy can rear its ugly head very swiftly if your dogs think each other is getting a better deal so purchase new goodies for your new dog, and a couple of extra ‘sweeteners’ for your Staffie. Makes sure each dog knows what is theirs, keeping items separate at first to establish ownership.
Ensure you supervise any interaction between your dogs at all times until you feel comfortable that you know their likes and dislike and any triggers for behaviour changes with each other.
Should either dog become aggressive, give the aggressive dog a telling off before separating them for a brief time. Let them reconnect once the situation has defused.
Each of your dogs will welcome some one-on-one time alone with you to bond and feel secure. It’s natural to want to fuss over the new dog to try and make it feel welcome, but try to dish out the love in equal amounts so your existing Staffordshire Bull Terrier doesn’t feel left out.
You can enhance your training sessions to include time away from one dog whilst concentrating on the other. Being able to ignore each other is actually a great skill to have for dogs, especially at shower and nail trimming time!
Dinner time is the highlight of many a dog’s day. Your dogs will be highly alert and anxious at meal times at the beginning of your new home share. They will each be worrying that they aren’t getting their fair share.
Avoid feeding your dogs in the same place to avoid a showdown. There shouldn’t be any indication that your pets need to compete for food. Set up feeding areas well away from each other and then when one dog finishes his grub, remove the bowl so there is no temptation to lick each others feeding vessels clean.
After a while, your dogs will learn whose food is whose, but it is always wise to keep the feeding areas separate to avoid and food guarding behaviour.
You’ve taken the baby gates down, your dogs are getting equal amounts of attention and they are eating at mealtimes like civilized doggies and not scavenging savages. Yay!
Like humans, dogs still need some ‘me time’, even if they are happy in their environment. A space they can call their own and take a time out from the comings and goings of a family home. Keep up the separate beds and toys to reduce jealousy and allow some space, potentially incorporating crates, that your dogs can escape to if they feel the need.
A multi-dog household can be tiring, crazy and just a tad messy but if you are willing to put some work in at the beginning and onwards, you will be in for a very rewarding experience. Unconditional love from two or more dogs and the chance to live your life smiling and laughing at double the fun!