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Are two dogs better than one?

I have two male Shitzus, Bruiser and Rocky. Deciding to get Rocki was not something that I did out of the blue...I had read a lot about bringing a second dog into the home and talked to a lot of people who had more than one pet. This is what I learned...
After much research, it appeared that the best time to get a second dog was while Bruiser was still young. However, the question became male or female? Female generally was a no-no...they tend not to take well to a male. However, if we were going to get another male, the best time was within the first year.
This was because he had not yet established the home as his "territory". Male dogs are territorial as they get older, but female dogs can also be territorial and, if they are old enough, they can be worse than male dogs.
We were approached by someone we knew who had a 7 year old female Cocker Spaniel named Coco and they were trying to find her a home as they couldn't keep her any longer. She was a lovely dog and I agreed to take her on the condition that Bruiser, who was about 8 months old at the time, and Coco got along. I said that if Bruiser appeared to be uncomfortable in any way, the deal was off.
We brought Coco to our home and kept her on the driveway as I had read that you should introduce the dogs on neutral territory and keep them on leashes so you can pull them away if need be. Bruiser, who was less than half the size of Coco, approached very carefully and, when he got closer to her, took a submissive posture. Coco turned her back on him the whole time. He slowly crept toward her on his belly and when he got close, she growled at him...not menacingly, but enough to tell him to back off. Bruiser backed off a bit, wagged his tail and started to creep towards her again. This time Coco let him approach and we thought we could see how the two of them behave together in the house. Just as we brought them in, Bruiser changed. No longer did he adopt a submissive pose...he stood tall about a foot away from Coco. She did not like it...she turned toward Bruiser and snapped at him. Bruiser jumped back and started to bark at her. At that point I told my husband to remove Coco from the house. Perhaps over time Coco would have taken to Bruiser, but I wasn't going to take the chance that she could hurt him. She was older...he was still a pup. It was obvious to us she had no patience for him and just wanted to be left alone. Sadly we brought Coco back to where she was living. Although on the drive to our home and back she was very docile and affectionate, she wasn't that way with Bruiser.
We then got a call from my husband's cousin. Her Shit-zu (who was also Bruiser's mother) had just had another litter. I said "I thought you weren't going to breed Roxie again?" She said she wasn't, but so many people wanted pups after the first litter that she and her husband agreed to Roxie having another set of pups. However, after the puppies were born, one of the parties backed out and she had a dog no one wanted. I told her I would call her back.
I told my husband about Roxie's litter. He said "Absolutely not! We are NOT getting another dog. One is enough. Forget about it!" So, when he went to work the next day, I called his cousin and said I would take the dog and arranged to pick him up that day. When my husband came home that evening, he walked into the kitchen, looked over to the bed I had made, looked at Rocki and said "what's this?" I said "It's the other dog your cousin had." I smiled at him. He sighed, bent down, patted Rocki, and fell in love with him. One angry boy taken care of....
Even though Bruiser was about 10 months old when we brought Rocki home, he was NOT happy about it. He went from a cuddly, docile, friendly little boy to an angry, stressed animal. Rocki was 9 weeks old when I brought him into the house. Bruiser came and sniffed, and then he got so angry and stressed that big, thick gobs of saliva developed and hung from the fur around his mouth. He went on his mat and just stared at me. I could not even approach him...he growled and ran away. It was like we had betrayed him and he was completely lost. If I tried to touch him, he ran away. He refused to eat or drink. He did nothing but sit and stare. One day when the garage door was open, he actually tried to run away. Thankfully our neighbor caught him and he was content in her arms. But when I came to get him, he growled the whole time I touched him and jumped out of my arms the first chance he got. Thankfully, it was in the house!
This behavior went on for about three days. On one of the days, Bruiser passed Rocki's bed, strutted to the island, looked at me to see if I was watching, lifted his leg and peed on the floor by the island while staring at me like "yea, what are you going to do about it?".
On the fourth day he started to drink and ate a bit of food. I was still not permitted near him. Luckily, Rocki didn't do much more than sleep because he was so young. Bruiser did stop by to sniff a bit more and got to the point that he would creep up to Rocki's bed and watch him sleep. If Rocki woke up and looked at him, Bruiser would take off. Finally, by day 5, I was able to pat Bruiser and he was eating again. He finally stopped salivating and began taking a genuine interest in this little furry creature that appeared to be staying in his home. He had at this point came to the realization that Rocki was pretty helpless and his first gesture of friendship was when he took a piece of his dog biscuit, held it in his mouth to soften it, and then dropped it in front of Rocki. After that, he became Rocki's father and big brother, always letting him eat first and guiding him along in the "rules" of the house. For the first five days it was touch and go, and I wasn't even sure at that point if we could keep Rocki, but Bruiser stepped up to the plate and became Rocki's guardian.
Everything I had read said to have a separate food and water dish for each animal so I did just that...two water bowls and two plates. The theory is that each has their own plates and portions so there is no fighting or competition. So on the first day, I put Rocki's puppy food on one plate and Bruiser's dog food on another and left them to their meal. Both immediately went to the puppy food plate and sniffed. Then they both cruised over to Bruiser's kibble plate. Rocki decided he liked Bruiser's food better than his own and decided to try and eat it. Bruiser shared with him, even though Rocki couldn't chew the food and dropped most of it on the floor. Then the two of them travelled over to Rocki's puppy food and Bruiser took a couple of bites and Rocki finished the rest. The two of them then headed over to one of the water bowls and shared it. I continued to make two plates every day until Rocki was over puppy food and every day was the same scenario. Finally, after watching the two of them share one small plate and then go to the next small plate, I got one big plate, put their food on it, and to this day the two of them share food. So again, you can read about what you "should" do, but in the end it's what works out best for both of your pets.
In the end, getting a second animal is always a game of chance. You must be prepared to watch both animals at all times, monitor their behavior and reactions, and have an abundance of patience. Most importantly, you must be prepared for the fact that this new arrangement may not work out and if that is the case, then the second animal will have to be returned. In our case we got lucky. Bruiser and Rocki are the best of friends. They are inseparable. Twice a day Bruiser cleans Rocki like a little mother, looks out for him like a father, and plays with him like a brother.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Wow! You have no idea how much this little piece you kindly put up has helped me!! We have a 5 yr old boy Shihtzu and have been ummm-ing and ahhh-ing over whether to get another Shihtzu (for all the reasons you also said), but weren't sure whether to go another boy or girl... We have decided on a boy and your words have helped me immensely with my fears in how a 2nd Shihtzu may go down.. I cross my fingers that our older Boy takes to his little "brother" as your Bruiser and Rocky have!! Thanks again!
Anonymous said…
This article really helped put my mind at ease, I have a 3 year old male shih Tzu, and just adopted a 1 year old Shih Tzu. The 3 year old doesn't seem to want anything to do with the 1 year old! It's been 2 days,so I really hope they will bond as time goes by.

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