Getting a Second New Dog – 4 Tips
The Pack Mentality: Adding a Second New Dog to Your Family
New dog. You’re thinking about getting a second dog. Your current dog is aging. Maybe a younger dog will breathe some life into his old dog ways. Maybe a young dog won’t. Consider the following helpful, but often overlooked, tips when weighing the decision of your new dog’s life time.
1. Dogs are a pack animals
Sure it may seem obvious, but dogs are a pack animal. Wolves, hyenas, coyotes, and the rest, do not function without the other members of their pack. While it may not make sense to us humans at first glance, dogs like being part of a pack, even if they are the low dog on the totem pole, so to say. In a dog’s world, their pack brings order to their life, and that order brings security. You may not realize it, but your current senior dog may consider himself the low dog on the totem pole, and he is most likely fine with it. That’s right, your dog, the only dog you own, knows that he is not Alpha pack member. Why? Because you are a part of his pack. You and the other human members of your family or household are Alpha compared to him. He’s okay with that because he knows his place, even if he is the Omega pack member, or, in human terms, low dog on the totem pole. He knows that even though he is not Alpha, he is still part of a pack, and that is all that matters. He likes being a part of his pack, or in human terms, his family.
So adding another dog to the ‘pack’ so to say can have its benefits. Since dogs inherently live in packs, adding another dog to your pack does not challenge their genetic instincts. However, as with all dog packs, there needs to be an order. Your senior dog, and your new dog, will have to determine where they stand in the pack. Obviously you as a human, and the rest of they humans in your house, will remain in Alpha roles. Your senior dog and your new dog will have to determine between the two of them who is, so to say, top dog.
2. Top Dog: Omega
While the determination of who is top dog can go a variety of ways, the two extremes are worth mentioning. Your new dog can either recognize your senior dog’s Alpha stature, or your new dog can challenge that standing.
If your new dog recognizes that he or she is not top dog, all is well in your little pack. A new dog that immediately, or pretty quickly, recognizes that he or she is not top dog will not challenge the natural order in your house. Your senior dog will not feel threatened, or worse, put out to pasture. A new dog that is willing to take the Omega role can be a very important member of your pack. Perhaps the most stunning thing a new Omega dog can do is breathe some life into your senior dog. A new young, Omega will encourage your senior dog to play. The new dog will not threaten your senior dog’s pack order, and the playing will be fun. A new Omega can help keep your senior dog active and healthy.
3. Top Dog: Alpha
Not all dogs are so willing to become the Omega. Female dogs are stereotypically less willing to become the Omega to another female dog than males will with other males. If your new dog is unwilling to take the Omega position in your pack, your senior dog will feel threatened. Your senior dog may try to defend his rightful position, or he may roll over and give the Alpha dog position to the new dog. This will have a serious, negative impact on your senior dog’s physical and mental health. Such pack order should not be encouraged. As the longest standing dog member of your pack, your senior dog should have the Alpha dog position. A new dog who is unwilling to submit to your senior dog may not be a good fit for your household.
4. Choosing the Right Omega
If you want to get your senior dog a new pack member, the best selection is a dog willing to take the Omega position. Such a dog will not challenge, threaten or stress your senior dog. There are many, none totally foolproof, ways to select the best dog for your household. Many dog experts believe that spayed or neutered dogs of opposite sex often have less problems peacefully defining the order of their packs than dogs of the same sex do. Another good way to ensure a harmonious pack is to research the dog you plan on getting. Find out, if you can, what its personality is. Did the new dog used to live in a house with other animals, if so what was his position in the pack structure. If you can’t get that information, look at the dog’s breed characteristics. Some breeds are much more laid back than others. Such laid back breeds often make good Omega dogs.