Adopting a second dog: Q&A with rescue expert Leslie Smith

Dogtimemedia: Hi everyone! Welcome to this Wednesday’s hosted PetChat event. Today we have Leslie Smith, senior editor of DogTime Media, taking your questions about how to integrate a new dog with your family’s pets.

LeslieSmith: Hi folks! Anybody adopted a new dog recently?

Twinkle: I have not, but am thinking about adopting a third dog

LeslieSmith: Twinkle, you’re thinking about a third dog? That’s great! And brave.

Chanelly: I am thinking of adopting a dog. My only thing is, I have a small dog right now and need to make sure the bigger adopted dog can get along with a 3 pounder

LeslieSmith: Yes, that’s very smart to consider.

: The good news is most dogs learn to get along very well. But you wouldn’t want a large dog to inadvertently play too roughly with the smaller one

LeslieSmith: But there are a couple of things you can do to make an intro go relatively smoothly

Chanelly: Yeah. Are there things I should/shouldn’t do when i do adopt one and bring a new dog home?

LeslieSmith: If possible, arrange for the dogs to meet, even before you bring the second one home. If the dogs seem to like each other or even just tolerate each other at a dog park or a shelter, that’s a good sign.

LeslieSmith: Then, if you decide to adopt, arrange for the dogs to meet on neutral ground, and then bring them in to the home together.

LeslieSmith: For example, have a friend or family member bring your new dog to a set location a block or two from your home. You then approach with your first dog and walk the two in together.

LeslieSmith: And you want to make sure that there are no chew toys, or other “resources” lying around that your first dog may get possessive toward

Chanelly: I see. My dog gets very territorial when anyone/dog enters “her” house.

: Exactly, Chanelly. You want to let your new dog know her “territory” isn’t threatened.

Valentine: Why can’t you have the chew toys? Is there a way to teach them to share?

LeslieSmith: Good question, Valentine.

LeslieSmith: The answer is sometimes. At first, I strongly recommend you don’t ask/expect your dogs to share.

LeslieSmith: Feed them separately, Show them they each have their own bed, etc.

Twinkle: Ms. Smith, I have 2 dogs, 7 yr old female lhasa, her son, 1 yr old Pali (chi-apso). am thinking of adopting a 3rd, male pup as Twinkle does not like other female dogs. is there any advice you can give?

LeslieSmith: Yes, a few recommendations…Since you already know your older dog doesn’t like females, it’s wise to make sure the younger pup is ok with other males.

LeslieSmith: If he is and you find a male dog you want to adopt, be sure to introduce the three dogs separately. In other words, mama and new dog and then pup and new dog. And I would watch closely to make sure that the two who already know each other don’t gang up on the new one!

Twinkle: Got it. Thanks!

Amy: Hi Leslie, I currently have an 11-year-old dog lab and am thinking about getting a second one. Do you think it would be better to get a puppy or an older dog?

Leslie Smith: Hi Amy!

LeslieSmith: That’s such a good question.

: I honestly don’t think it matters. The main thing is, you want your older dog to feel comfortable with the newbie in the house.

Amy: Yeah, I’m not sure if she would like to have another dog in the house.

LeslieSmith: Some mature dogs don’t like puppies, so in that case, I’d look for a middle-aged dog. The only reason I don’t recommend another senior is that two seniors can be expensive if there are any medical issues.

Amy: My current dog is still pretty active, but I agree that a hyper puppy might be too much.

LeslieSmith: That said, if you and your dog fall in love with another older dog and want to bring him/her home that trumps all!

Amy: Good idea. My senior dog has definitely had her share of health problems.

Chanelly: I have a question Leslie.

LeslieSmith: Great, bring it on.

Chanelly: My current dog is house broken, but if I bring on another dog to the house, will they both start marking their territory even if my current dog is housebroken?

Chanelly: And are females or males more likely to mark?

LeslieSmith: Generally, no. Your housebroken dog will probably still want to keep his/her area clean. In my experience, males are much more likely to mark.

LeslieSmith: But just to be sure, definitely clean any messes the new dog makes right away! The odor in the house can be confusing.

Chanelly: Gotcha. I’ll be following around with natures miracle =)

todddog1: Hi Leslie. This is Todd in New York.

LeslieSmith: Hey Todd!

todddog1: I have a friend who recommends using crates when introducing a new puppy into a home. Do you have any feelings about crates? I think they are a bit cruel.

LeslieSmith: I happen to love crates–they’re a great tool, they’re EXCELLENT for housetraining. And as for being cruel, I know it seems like putting the dog in the crate would be unpleasant, but dogs feel much safer in a comfortable, enclosed area. My dog willingly goes into his crate to sleep.

LeslieSmith: When I brought my second dog home, I think it helped that my first dog went so willingly into the crate.

Amy: Is there anything to know about feeding two dogs at the same time? Do they usually compete for food?

LeslieSmith: Many, many dogs compete for food…at first.

LeslieSmith: I started out feeding my dogs at separate ends of the room and watched to make sure each could finish the meal without worrying the other approaching if one finished first and headed towards the other, I’d give a stern”uh uh!”

LeslieSmith: Eventually, the two learned not to bother each other when eating.

LeslieSmith: I gradually moved the bowls closer and closer and now I’m able to feed them side by side. My two dogs get along great, but… I still don’t give them rawhides to eat when I’m not going to be around.

Amy: That’s a really good idea. Thanks!

todddog1: What if you have a cat?

todddog1: I keep my cat’s food up on a counter and it drives me insane.

LeslieSmith: Ah, so you have a cat and are considering bringing home a dog?

todddog1: yes

LeslieSmith: The main thing, of course, is to make sure your cat likes dogs!

todddog1: I have a cat and dog, and thinking of adopting an older dog from a rescue shelter.

MaggieC: We feed our animals on different schedules. Cats in the morning. Dogs at night. Dogs are out for an hour so the cats can eat in peace.

LeslieSmith: An older dog is a great idea for a situation like yours, Todd. Both your pets will feel less threatened by a dog who is a little slower on his feet.

MaggieC: Todd, does your dog like other dogs?

: That’s the problem, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. I can never tell.

LeslieSmith: Here’s a helpful article:

LeslieSmith: Well, folks. Our time is up. Thanks so much for chatting!

MaggieC: Thanks Leslie. Very helpful info!

Dogtimemedia: Thank you for participating in our hosted event about integrating new pets into your home with Leslie Smith. If you’d like a copy of the chat dialog, please visit

To read more helpful Q&As about training, medical questions, and other important dog and cat topics, click on PetChat.