Dear Deborah: I want to get a second dog to keep our first dog happy while I’m at work now that I’m increasing my hours and will be home less. The first dog, a four year old shepherd cross, is cranky with other dogs and strangers. How can I prevent that dog from learning the same habits? Cranky Canine
Dear Cranky : Take some time before your increase in work hours -a month or two if you have it- to introduce a new dog and adjust both to new routines. Otherwise, your cranky dog will get crankier if he loses you to work and to another dog vying for attention and territory in his home.
To adjust your dog to your new schedule, make sure to leave him alone for at least a few hours every day, even on days when you’re not at work. When you are home, make sure that he is sometimes made to stay in a different area, such as the yard or a different room in the house.
If you decide to get a second dog, train your first dog first. Once he is behaving well and listening to your heel commands as you pass other dogs, then you are ready for the extra job of another dog to control.
Make sure your second dog is the opposite gender of your first dog, and submissive and friendly with other dogs. Introduce them at first on neutral territory, and muzzle or face harness your first dog to keep leash control and prevent fights.
At first separate them when you leave, Feed them separately at the same time in different areas. Teach them different tricks so that they each have special ways of earning your praise.
Always give your first dog attention and perks first. That means he eats first, gets put on the leash first, out the door first, etc.