So your thinking of adopting or adding a new puppy, and you are worried about introducing your current dog due to past aggressive behavior. Well, with proper training, preparation, planning and patience you and your dog can welcome a new member to your family.
Timing is important! There are a countless number of dogs that need a home, so make sure the timing is right for you and your current pack. If you leave your dogs home alone for more then 8 hours a day, you might wait until you have a week off so you can be around to enjoy, acclimate and monitor your new addition. (Please see post on crate training) Likewise, if your are going to be traveling, having surgery or if your current dog is on the injured list and unavailable to participate in pack fun… hold off until the timing is better. The more time you can spend initially as part of the pack, the happier all will be.
You and your dog are already a pack, hopefully you are the leader or Alpha, and adding a new member to your pack is your decision. Some dogs may be jealous of the attention that a new member gets and it is critical that your existing pack members, be it one or many, feel part of the process.
This may sound a bit crazy, but the first step is to voice your decision to add a new member to your pack out loud and to your dog(s). Through communicating out loud it allows you and your dogs to visualize the trials and tribulations that will happen. Just like adding a child, make sure you communicate your love for your dog and add that you have plenty of love for another. Let your dog know why you think it is important to bring another dog into the household and if you already have a dog in mind, share this information along with where the dog is now, what his life is like, and why he needs to join your pack. Tell your dog how much fun he will have with his new pack member and the adventures you will share together. Initially, your existing packs routine will not change. They will eat in the same spot, sleep in the same place and participate in your day as usual. What will be different is that a new dog will be observing them from the safety of his crate or leash .
Okay so now you and your pack are on the same page and ready to find the perfect new family member. Be aware that size, breed and sex of your current dog and of the new pack member can work for you… or against you. Different breeds of dogs have different playing styles, Some breeds are very physical and can frighten a dog that is a bit more sensitive.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK ! whether you find a dog first or decide on a breed, please do some research on the breed(s) characteristics. If you can, talk to other owners of the breed you are interested in.. So many dogs end up homeless because they do what they were bred to do, are not given an outlet for their energies, and often are scolded for following their instincts.
Is Adoption an Option? Adoption is always an option! The most difficult part about working with rescues it that most of them do not allow a trial period. There should be no guilt for an adoption failure. Rescued dogs have untold amounts of different baggage that we will never fully understand, but that being said, if we provide the dogs with basic needs, keep them safe and be patient with our training, the odds are good that they will flourish and become very appreciative members of their new families.
The best way to Adopt a new dog is to first find a rescue that is likely to have the type/size of dog that your research has shown would be a good fit for you and your family. Once you fill out their paperwork and are approved as a good prospect, ask them about their foster program. So many rescues have so many dogs in facilities that it is hard for them to have a complete understanding for each of their personalities due mainly to lack of personnel, and once a dog is placed in a foster home it is more likely to be adopted. More the 50% of the dogs placed in foster homes through rescues become foster failures, and are adopted by the foster family, But even if you decide the dog is not a good fit for you, at least the dog has gotten out of the kennels and begun his journey toward a brighter future, and you have helped.