Introducing a second pet to your household - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Introducing a second pet to your household

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:49 am

Standing a full 12 inches tall and weighing in at a solid 20 pounds, Sampson the Pug used to think himself a Goliath. He would wrestle, frolic and play among the likes of German Shepherds, Boxers and Labradors.

He was a dog’s dog. Until, he met Ty.

For two years, Sampson was an only Pug. After buying a house (so the dog could have more space), with a sizable yard (for the dog to roam). What else could a spoiled dog ask for? Naturally, a friend to enjoy the house and roam the yard with.

A 10-foot pole couldn’t prove sufficient distance on the day we brought home this pint-sized nemesis.

Cute as button, playful and sweet, yet, Sampson wanted nothing to do with this fuzzy creature napping in his bed, playing with his toys and taking up space on our laps.

The puppy became an almighty presence the Goliath couldn’t bare.

Like many pet owners, I thought introducing a second pet to a household would only bring joy to the first. A best friend, a buddy, a pea to his pod.


Days came and went. The house still divided. Panic setting in.

What if they never like each other? What if they never get along?

Thankfully, these days Sampson and Ty make an inseparable duo. Together, they take on the big dogs at the park, use each other as pillows while sleeping and equally reign over the canine kingdom that is our household. I learned the hard way, you don’t have to. Consider these ideas for a “smooth” transition into a multi-pet family.

Set up a bark n’ sniff meeting for your pet and the potential newbie. This will give the two pets an opportunity to get to know each other while you observe their reactions. Keep it brief as to not overwhelm either dog, but simply monitor the interaction and allow them to get acquainted with each other. A meeting outside of your home will help ease the first pets’ territorial instincts.

Training ranks among the toughest tasks of introducing a second pet to the household, particularly if the second pet is a puppy. Establish a solid routine that even your current pet abides by and reinforce good behavior with praise. Even if your first pet is already potty trained reward both pets equally so they associate that good things happen when they are together in addition to enforcing training methods.

Avoid any potential aggression by allowing each pet to have personal space. A scheduled feeding time with a designated feeding area for each pet creates boundaries and helps prevent cases of food aggression. Additionally, providing separate beds and toys can be helpful until they feel comfortable sharing space. Make note that there will be instances of correction from one dog to the other. They may snarl or snap to signify unwanted behavior from the other pet. As long as this doesn’t result in further aggression with the actions remaining brief and controlled, allow the dogs to communicate boundaries and learn from each other.

If you’re lucky, your two pets will get along right away but more often than not there will be a few growing pains. Take the necessary precautions prior to introducing a new pet to your family and even consult with your veterinarian, trainer or professional pet care provider for added tips specific to your household.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Virginia Nelson is co-owner of Desert Dog Pet Care, a locally operated pet care company. Reach her at (602) 538-5486 or

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