"When should I add another?" This is probably one of the most common questions that I am asked. About a month ago I was stopped at the beach by a woman with an older dog, we chatted and when she found out that Luke was 11.5 years old and Elsa was 8 months she asked lots of questions. She had wanted to add another dog to her family but with her dog being a very senior 10 year old she wasn't sure that it was the right time. The right time is a difficult question and one that I asked myself a great deal before getting Elsa. Our difficulty was the fact that we had two very, very old dogs to care for as well. I knew that Luke was young and healthy enough to deal with the addition of a puppy.
When I added our little Jack Russell to the family I already had another dog who was middle aged, it was a great time to add her and they got along great. Clyde, who was the boy we had when we added Jessie was already very bonded to us and had all of his training, he was a joy to live with. Shortly after the addition of Jessie I desired a third and so we added Tilley when Jessie was only 10 months old. This decision of course made it very difficult for me in the end. As the two grew older the thought of losing them both in a close span of time became more imminent. I will not do this again.
Of course the thought of losing two dogs within weeks of each other is not the main concern when you add family members but it is something to think about. Adding Tilley shortly after Jessie was never an issue behavior wise because Tilley came to me pretty close to perfect. The most important thing to consider is that he first dog should be well bonded to the family, well behaved having lots of training under their belt and be able to help in the new one. It is amazing how much a new puppy watches the older dog to learn things. If you have a young and uneducated dog and add another then you are in for a whole whack of work. A joyous time can turn into a nightmare if you don't wait until the right time.
If you are wrestling with your first dog and unwanted behaviors and then add a second one into the mix; just think for a minute what you will be up against? Puppies can be frustrating at the best of times so if you have work to do with your first dog, do not add the second one just yet. When your first dog is still young enough to enjoy a puppy, which can be anywhere from 3 years to much older then add another. My ball park addition age is 3 years of age. With three years comes life experience, a good deal of training should be have and they should have something to offer a young'n. Of course all dogs are different so 3 years may be too young to add another to your home, you may want to wait 5 years.
There is also those who will wait too long and at the last possible moment go for it. This is often a bad option as the very old dog wants nothing to do with a new and spirited puppy. If your dog is too old, sick or just sore then think twice about adding a puppy. The option of an older rescue may be a good choice then but the right dog must be placed to make it work and allow your old dogs to still feel comfortable in their golden years.
When we added Elsa there was a great deal to consider; had we waited too long? With Tilley being 14 and dealing with Vestibular disease, Jessie 15 and suffering from dementia, Luke 11 years young I looked to my future to answer that question. Tilley was doing really great for a 14 year old and could offer a great deal to a puppy, Jessie wasn't really a consideration as she was already in her own little world and Luke, well he would finally have someone to play with once he bonded with her. The question was, was I up for more work? As you all know dogs are my life so we welcomed her in with open arms and having lived through the last couple of months I now see that this addition was more than perfect timing.