Michigan Humane Society

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Ask the Behaviorist: Making the Choice to Add Another Dog

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Check out the Michigan Humane Society blog on Wednesdays to see common pet behavior questions answered by our Senior Director of Operations and pet behavior expert, CJ Bentley. If you have an immediate behavior concern with your pet, please call a qualified trainer or behaviorist! If you have a non-urgent question you would like answered on the blog, you can comment here or email us at mail(at)michiganhumane.org.

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

Senior Director of Operations CJ Bentley and her adopted dog, Rogue

“I have an 8 year old border collie mix & would like to rescue another dog. BUT she is so attached & non friendly to most other dogs. She barks, growls & carries on when one even walks in front of the house. She has gotten much worse since my husband passed. Also my other rescue moved away with my son . Can you help us?”

First of all, THANK YOU for wanting to adopt another dog. We love to hear that! We will do what we can to help you find just the ideal match for your entire family including your border collie mix. What’s most important here is to identify the difference between dogs in the home and out of the home. Many, many, many, many dogs (including mine!) bark and growl and carry on when a dog walks past the house. That obnoxious behavior can be seen in dogs who don’t like dogs, and dogs who do like dogs. The barking and growling could be because she wants the dog outside to go away…OR it could mean that she’s frustrated because she really wants to play with the other dog and can’t – those darn windows!

What’s most important is whether or not your dog enjoys SHARING her home with another dog. Some dogs do – others don’t. I give you a bunch of credit for considering what your dog wants. Too often people try to bring additional pets home when their current animal is super happy being an “only child.” And others force their dogs to “enjoy” dog parks when truly their dog is more of a “couch potato” type. The key to doggie bliss is knowing your dog and doing what’s right for her. You mentioned that your son had a dog who used to share your home. Did his dog and your border collie girl get along? If they did, then there’s a chance your dog would enjoy some canine company.

The Michigan Humane Society strongly encourages all adopters with dogs at home to bring them along so we can supervise meetings between your dog and any potential new four-legged family members. We can also provide some helpful tips on bringing a new dog home, to help ease the transition for both dogs. Don’t give up on being able to add a new canine to your family. But listen to your girl. She’s been your loyal friend for 8 years and if she’d rather live as an “only” it is usually best to listen.

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