Enzo, our adorable German Shepherd, was 20 months old when we added a second German Shepherd puppy to our family. Enzo was a hyperactive boy, with an enormous drive, nudging us 24×7 to play “Brring” with him with whatever he found handy: his ball, his bone, our shoes, twigs, branches, small stones and even a small towel once.We, unfortunately, were not always able to keep him entertained, blame it on our other boring human roles and responsibilities. So, we decided to gift our “only child” a “sibling”. And, Olyver aka Oly, a long haired, chubby, 8-week-old cuddle monster born of award winning GSDs of the show dog line, arrived soon.
The entire process of thinking about getting a second puppy to actually introducing Oly to our household was fraught with indecisions, apprehensions, doubts, questions and concerns. Hence, once Oly was all settled in and started loving our home, I thought of putting together some snippets of our prepping process before we got our new bundle of joy on board.
1. A Girl or A Boy
Experts asked us to get a girl this time as two boys would invariably fight and bleed each other to death. But since we were against the principle of neutering our pets, we felt uncomfortable at the thought of witnessing incessant love making between our fur babies and then ending up with unwanted litters. So, we said, lets get another boy; just make sure they understand humans are the Alpha in this household and canines are not allowed to fight freely.
2. Age of the new puppy
We felt the younger a pup was introduced to its new home, the easier it would be for both parties to get to know each other better. So, we opted for an 8 week old.
3. Working vs Show Breed
Enzo comes from an extremely illustrious lineage of working dogs. In addition to being an excellent candidate for Schutzhund, Enzo has an impeccable family health record. Show dogs on the other hand are known to be vulnerable to hip dysplasia and elbow disorders, due to indiscriminate in-breeding practiced by unscrupulous breeders. Show dogs however win by their physical beauty, royal gait, cuddly nature, strong bone structure if born out of healthy parents raised by a reputed breeder, and most importantly for us, would offer a calmer disposition to balance out Enzo’s obsessive compulsive prey drive.
4. Long-haired vs Short-haired
A short haired GSD pup would shed less and could be a boon if you are prone to allergy attacks or are not a big fan of cleaning your home daily. A long haired German Shepherd however looks prettier and if you could brush him regularly in the right fashion with the right set of tools, shedding should not be a cause of concern.
5. Buy or Adopt
We initially preferred adoption as we got Enzo from a breeder. But no adoption agency agreed to let us adopt one of their dogs. Dogs up for adoption are all neutered and hence not recommended to share a home with a non neutered one, as the latter, with its greater drive, is sure to intimidate the new member. So, our only option left was to buy from the breeder.
6. Raise together or in isolation
Raising two puppies of different age groups simultaneously in the same household is like handling a double edged sword. If you manage to stop the fights, be sure to consider the other extreme. They would bond so closely with each other that the older puppy would end up being the new puppy’s foster mom, the new guy would go to his “Mommy” for everything, speak the same language, get entertained by the same games, and as this canine-canine bonding would peak, the canine-human bonding would fall apart. Raising them in absolute isolation to our advantage, however, sounded manipulative. Instead, we decided to keep a control on the time they spent in each other’s company and then individually in the human company. As long as a balance could be struck between the two and no sides felt left out, this should be pretty easy to attain.
7. Always use Neutral Ground for Introduction:
We could not walk straight into our home with Oly; in addition to being Oly’s new home, it was Enzo’s territory too. He would never accept an intruder. Enzo would be needed to consider Oly a buddy, not a trespasser. Here’s where the experts’ advice came handy: have the first meeting on a neutral ground.
So, Mom waited with Oly in a neighborhood park while Dad went home alone to take Enzo out for a casual stroll. Enzo, delighted with an unexpected visit to the park, was even more delighted to discover a new puppy who had apparently gone unnoticed by the humans. Enzo licked Oly, Oly asked for a tummy rub, Enzo wagged his tell with full gusto and bugged his parents to allow him to take the new pup home. Parents obliged. Things have been going pretty well on both canine-canine and human-canine fronts since then.