If you're like me, you look at that cute dog on the street, in the park, or even on Petfinder, dreaming about adding “just one more” dog to your family. But then...what about your resident dog? The one you love, pamper, take to the park, and with whom you spend one on one time with? Will she welcome a playmate...or be jealous forever?
We struggled with this decision before we added 11 year old golden retriever, Brooks, to our family. We wanted to help save another dog, and we thought our dog, Kelly, might enjoy a playmate. The transition wasn’t entirely easy. At times I thought Kelly would never accept another dog. But eventually they became friends.
Originally we had to keep them separated whenever we couldn't supervise them. Kelly barked and tussled whenever we gave Brooks attention, fed him, tried to give him a toy, or whenever he tried to enter our bedroom (which is also Kelly's bedroom). Eventually things were peaceful and happy! Here is how long it took to make some progress:
4 weeks- We initially kept Brooks on his comfy bed in the kitchen at night, but after 4 weeks we were finally able to let him sleep on a doggy bed alongside our bed. This was a huge step, as we never wanted him to feel separated from the family. Kelly always slept on a doggy bed on the opposite side of the bed. (It's a small bedroom, so walking space was tight, especially if anyone had to get up in the middle of the night!)
5 weeks- After 5 weeks, Brooks and Kelly were able to eat in the same room. We still had to be vigilant, and keep the food dishes apart physically, but I no longer had to feed them separated by a closed door! Kelly occasionally tried to “help” Brooks with his dinner, but she no longer felt the need to run up barking and push him away.
6 weeks- After 6 weeks, toys remained the biggest problem. Kelly would still get very upset if Brooks had any toy. The only toy she didn't mind Brooks having was a tennis ball, which was lucky, because it was Brooks' favorite. Any other toy still needed supervision to make sure that Kelly didn't get possessive and grab it away.
8 weeks- After 8 weeks, we were finally able to leave the two dogs alone together when went out! I always wondered what they did when we were away. Once, when I returned from an outing, I snuck up on them and peeked in the window of the door to see where they were, and saw them lying right in front of the door together!
Kelly and Brooks didn't play together much, and they didn't snuggle much, but they learned to become friends. Although it was difficult for Kelly to share initially, she accepted Brooks more and more as time passed. We gave them both individual love and attention, and took them on walks and romps together. When I think about how far they came before Brooks passed away, I feel really good. Since then, we adopted an 8-year old golden retriever, Ike, and the introduction to Kelly was much easier. Because of Kelly's positive experience with Brooks, she didn't feel as anxious, accepted Ike readily and they even play together sometimes!
About the Author: Peggy Frezon, author of Dieting with my Dog; The Dieting with my Dog Guide to Weight Loss and Maintenance; Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw; and the forthcoming book, Greetings at the Front Door, The Amazing Power of the Human-Animal Bond (Paraclete Press, fall 2015). Peggy is also a regular contributor to Guideposts magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Connect with her on her blog, Peggy's Pet Place, and on twitter @peggyfrezon, and check out her newsletter with positive pet news. This article was originally posted on August 13, 2012 on Peggy’s Pet Place.