Dogs/Bringing Another Dog into Our House
First let me say, thank you for taking the time to offer advice. I have a 9 year old female miniature schnauzer/poodle mix (schnoodle) named Lily and I have owned her since she was 6 months old. We have gone through a lot of household changes together, we used to have several roommates, then it was just the two of us, and now I am married and it is Lily, my husband and myself. She has tolerated all of the 'people changes' well, but she is a people dog, she loves humans. We have never had another animal in the house - for 9 years she has been the only pet. Recently, my husband and I have been discussing getting another dog. I have a pretty strong background with dogs I have been a professional pet sitter and worked at a doggy daycare. My sister manages a doggy daycare and we have tons of friends that are groomers, trainers, etc. all this being said, I am not sure how Lily would react to another dog in the home. She has never gone to doggy daycare, or a dog park, or really interacted with any other dogs in a significant way. She sees other dogs in the neighborhood and really likes the miniature poodle (male) that lives across the street.
Most of my knowledgeable dog friends tell me that Lily will accept another dog because she has no choice, but I am not really sure. I do not think she would ever hurt another dog, but I do not want to make the remaining years of her life miserable.
My questions are, how do you think I should introduce another dog into the home? Should I look for a dog closer to her age? Should the other dog be the same gender or different?
If you have any other general advice that would be great. I really do want another dog and also want a happy household.
In the nine years of owning Lily, does it seem like she generally likes to be in the company of other dogs? Does she snarl and lunge at other dogs if she sees one when she's out for a walk?
If Lily usually likes other dogs, I'd say the chances are pretty good that she can adapt to a another dog in HER home! If she generally dislikes other dogs, there's a very real chance that adding a second dog to your household is not going to be a smooth or happy experience for either you or Lily.
I disagree with the advice your friends gave you, that Lily will have no choice but to get used to the new dog. That's not true. Lily has a choice in this. Her "choice" may well be not to accept the new dog no matter what your thoughts on the subject are. Dogs have been know to revert in house training when a new pet is added to a home (yes, even after 9 years!), to become aggressive over food, toys, or territory or to simply mope around. Some dogs just never get along very well with other dogs.
If there is a way to introduce Lily to whatever dog you're considering prior to adopting the new dog, this would be ideal. This would be a very good way of judging what her reaction might be. Do this on "neutral territory", meaning not your home or a place where Lily has been before. Keep the mood happy and give out lots of dog treats. Let Lily see that good times and the new dog can go hand in hand. And oh yes, be sure to only consider new dogs that have been evaluated as being good with other dogs!
If you decide on getting a new dog, here is information on how to do the introductions on your dog's home turf:
It can take a month or longer before the dust settles, and a new dog both feels at home in his new home, and is accepted by Lily. During this adjustment period give plenty of attention to both dogs together, as well as one on one time with each. Let Lily know she's still loved, her regular sleeping areas, toys, food bowl etc. should remain hers alone (at least in the beginning) do things with her that you know she enjoys, long walks, rides in the car, etc. Feed Lily before the new dog (at least in the beginning) greet her before the new dog gets a greeting. Lily needs to be shown that she's still number one in your heart!
Allow the dogs to settle minor disputes with each other, as long as there's no bloodshed it's okay. The dogs will come to an understanding in time, if you allow them to settle their differences. If there is real aggression interrupt and separate the dogs. This shows the dogs that YOU are in charge, and the pack's "Alpha". Let both dogs take time getting to know each other, and supervise all interactions until they work out their new relationship.
An adult dog would probably be the best fit for Lily. She might not tolerate the activity level of a puppy, and the amount of attention a puppy requires could make her jealous. Even if Lily has been spayed, the best mix is a neutered male dog with a female. There are more behavioral problems in households that have two female dogs, spayed or not! A new dog that has been evaluated as being submissive would be more inclined to respect Lily, and allow her to set down the rules.
Lastly, if the introduction of a new dog to your household doesn’t go smoothly, contact a professional dog behaviorist immediately. The longer a problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Your vet or a local boarding kennel may be able to give you a referral to a dog behaviorist, if one is needed.
I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck!