Adding another dog to a family. What is there to prepare for?

One of topics frequently discussed on the forums and social networks is buying a puppy t oa family which already has a dog. Mostly it is about getting another dog, however it is often adding a dog to cat or a rabbit. It is understandable and also correct that responsible buyers care and have many questions. Happy family is what matters the most, isn't it? :)

There is plenty of videos and photographs of multiple adult dogs of the same or different breeds that play or just get together very well. It appears that it is so easy, no problem. Is it really so? Is it really that simple and easy to bring up and manage a pack of more dogs within a family? We bring you some of the posts authored by breeders and owners of multiple dogs, in order for you to get a bit better overview on which hurdles there might be on the way and what it takes to make a proper decision whether to bring a new puppy to your family. Although each post is individual and a bit different (each dog is individual, too!) they all have a common background and underline the need of the following:

  1. Responsible approach to a decision-making - shall I be able take a long time (10-15 years) care of 2 (or more) hungry animals? Double cots for food, vet care, training course, etc.
  2. Sex selection - very important for Japanese breeds!
  3. Be ready for dogs not getting along with each other - have a backup plan for permanent separation (and be OK with it yourself!).

Of course, it does not necesarilly need to be your case that your dogs will not be able to live in peace together, however, in case of Japanese breeds it is likely to occur (mainly in case of the same sex after reaching adult age) and it is good to have it thought through in advance.

Edita Šubrtová (Akita + Shiba / kennel Kamiwaza / ČR)

When someone wants our puppy and already has a dog at home, then I insist on them taking an opposite sex puppy. Plus they need to ensure they are separated strictly during the female heat cycle or one of the dog will be sterilized in the future. To buyers interested in a male puppy I say they must count with their dog not tolerating another adult male when it reaches adult age.

When people inquire about my puppies and they do not know if they want a male or female, I want to know what experience with dogs they have. As for males, be it Akita or Shiba, will be dominant in the future and they require a firm leadership. For many owners of my dogs, it is their first time experience, however some chose a male anyway. If they get a proper grip on their upbringing and training, then they do not have any issues with the dog in the future.

I recommend them to enroll to a dog training course or dog kindergarten, or training sessions that are organized by breeders Jana H. Svobodova and Jan Čech which are focusing on the Japanese breeds only.

I see myself how my dogs do with each other at home. To date I have 11 dogs. 3 males and 8 females. It is not possible to let dogs get to each other. They never did well together. I experienced my male Akita attacking my male Shiba and of course, we ended up in the vets with the sewing job done. They hate each other so much that the Akita Kishi lives now with my son's family. They could not even take it easy with the fence separating them. I have my 2 Shiba boys living with me. They tolerate each other through the fence, although during heat our yard gets really noisy. It is better with my females. Two of them get along fine also with female Akitas, however I never leave them alone without my supervision. For example my Eiki, Shiba girl, tolerates only her daughter but does not let any other bitch get close to her. Japanese breeds are simply not pack dogs.

Keeping the dogs separated in kennels

Shiba (male) tries to get to Akita female in heat

Erika Horváthová (Shiba / SR)

Since I'm working a lot, leave home at 7:30 in the mornings and return 5:30 in the evenings, I figured I don't want to leave my Ayumi alone for such a long time every day. Logically, I talked to Verka Smolikova, breeder from whom I got Ayumi and who had actually had a litter few days before. I asked her about reservations, whether she had some vacancies on the list. One male and two females were born. One female was still free and thus I have reserved Ayumi a new buddy - sister from different litter. I wanted another female as I didn’t want to have a male and female with the same ancestors. When you are out working all day, it might be not easy to ensure separation during the heat. Ayumi was a beautiful 7 months old puppy, well-socialized, when we decided to bring her another fur buddy. With my boyfriend we started planning and prepping for the puppy arrival and when the D day came and I held the pretty little fragile puppy, I was utterly blissful.

Ayumi was so happy about her little sister, she was protecting her, cleaned her, they played with each other, slept with each other, fed from the same bowl. They got along from the very beginning, I even let them sleep in the same kennel during the first night. Ayumi is very careful and gentle. When they played, I supervised so they did not hurt each other. Ayumi let Beni do anything she wanted to her and Beni slowly started to show dominance. We spoilt her and so did Ayumi. I have always thought for myself that I won't accept them to hold grudge against each other and will ensure they will get along very well. Of course, small Beniko started to misuse our attention and after a while she started to show aggression, mainly connected to food and treats.

She thought she was the Alpha, however I quickly got over herself and settled things without growling or biting. I was consistent in making them living together in peace and harmony, without showing signs of aggression. I defined the boundaries, showed them the direction, I'm their leader. We all do what is best for the family. Me and my boyfriend set up the rules which are strictly followed.

Of course, we have enjoyed and still enjoy more then enough Shiba moments. Beniko is totally different from Ayumi. Beniko is a master of disaster, she has so much energy, she throws herself to everything without any hesitation. She loves the dogs and people. This is what she has in common with Ayumi. Ayumi is gentle she explores everything, she is a young lady. Although she is currently going through her puberty and she has her moments, she is overal very intelligent and smart. Having a dog is great, but having two dogs is something completely different. If you have a dog, you give him your whole heart, your entire attention and love. You are the centre of your dog's universe and it breathes for you. If you add a fur-partner to your dog, then you have a pack. Your heart must grow and in order to absorb double intake od love and you must give it back evenly to both doggies. Be careful about jealousy, this is very common in Shiba, right after love for food it is the second most typical feature. They want to have you for themselves only, they want to control you and it is you who needs to take over the control from the very first moment and make it easier for them. You need to teach them how to live together.

I never leave my girls alone for more then couple of hours. When we look for the holidays, we aleays search with the criteria allowing the dogs accommodation so we can have them with us. They don't like to be alone, they enjoy moments when we are all together, then they are the happiest. Walking a dog is great, we walk side by side, she does not pull. But when I have two leashes with two crazy Shibas at the end, then Leonardo and Kate on the tip of Titanic are just two balancing amateurs comparing to myself. One runs to the left, the other runs to the right, leashes knot and you just fly aroud like a rug. And you have to find a system. I tried a lot of things to simplify this… rubber leashes, fabric collars, walking them separately so they don’t get distracted by each other. So I do it according to the time I have and the weather. I always try to find compromise that suits everyone. We love them both the same and noy only we do not regret the decision to have two Shibas, we even recommend it.


Best Regards from Erika, Jurko, Ayumi and Beniko.

Getting to know each other

Crunching together

Walking is always fun

Jarka Špaková (Shiba / CHS Od Troch tabiel / SR)

Our Shibas (right now it is 6 females and 1 male) live together as a pack where we are their leaders and they need to respect us. They live with us in the house with a yard, they are not in the kennels - we are all together. We try to introduce new Shiba in a puppy age and it must find its place by itself. From the beginning we always supervise, then it is on its own. If the puppy comes from our breeding, it is much easier. With a new puppy, there comes new scent. There are some fights sometimes, but that is just small arguments, we rarely step in. Shibasare more vocal than dangerous to each other. There was never blood! Of course, we dress them down if it is too much - with a bigger pack that is normal.

As for two dogs in one pack - I probably wouldn't try it, it would be for sure complicated especially during the heat period, which is quite often if you have more females.

I think that the best combination is female + female. They can be managed quite well, if we think about 2 males, then it also depends on the breed. For example, beagles don’t have any issues, but Shibas certainly could have some, especially when they are sexually active. Male + female is also OK, you just need to manage the heat period in case when none of them is sterilized. But if the owner makes proper precautions, then it is a good combination.

When a new 4-legged Japanese joins the pack, they continuously get used to how it works. It is up to us, owners, how we raise and lead them in relationships with cats, rabbits, another dogs, it is about overal respect for us… With two equally dominant males I don't recommend use one as a stud dog because that ruins their relationship. If we want equity, then it must be equity in everything.

In other combinations, there should not be any issues. To add a puppy to a pack is usually not a problem, if the dogs are well socialised and rasised, it takes about 1-2 weeks until puppy feels comfortable - we must support the puppy, cover its back, we cannot let the first dog attack or harass the puppy. They must respect us and that we want a puppy to become a part of our pack. We have recently introduced a 8-month old puppy from our breeding to our pack, the dogs only tolerated her first, nothing more! But then after 3 weeks they started to play, too and slowly they accepted her. Of course, they saw we want to have her be our pack member. They also teach and show her what is allowed and what is not. We do not allow our dogs to take food from the table, jump on people, bark without reason… She learnt from us and from them. When we educate, dogs join us.

Hierarchy in our pack is managed solely by the dogs - of course we step in if someone is crossing the line, but otherwise it is all up to dogs to do the ranking.

If someone wants to have more dogs, conflicts come usually during heat, we know it is coming because dogs are getting closer to each other, they sniff more and mark much more everything around them. But we never had a problem that we would need to keep some of them separated. We only deparate the male to avoid unwanted mating. That is a real logistics, who has not been trhough it, cannot imagine… We have a lot to manage then.

Relaxing in the garden

The whole pack lives together with the family.

Family time

Věra Smolíková (Akita + Shiba / CHS Ichimei / ČR)

In our household we have 15 Akitas and 5 Shibas. They live close to us, within our family circle. Of course, some of them get along fine, the others don’t. That is the key to how we manage the pack. 4 Akita males, 3 Akita females and a Shiba boy tolerate each other. They are between 1,5 - 5 years old. From my own experience I can say that it's females who usually start troubles, especially when they are in heat. It is usually Shiba who actually does not hesitate to start the fight even with the Akita. To unexperienced dog owner who already has a dog I will always recommend the opposite sex puppy. In fact, from what I have experienced, dog males can get along unless they have a female among them. Every Japanese dog is an individuality and has its own character, someone tolerates the others and someone does not. They might be easily able to eat from the same bowl, sleep together, but human must always be one step ahead and anticipate. Be it just a small piece of food on the ground, bad look and there comes the fight. I have 2 Shiba females, Akita male and a Shiba male getting along fine for years. But as I say, it all depends on the individual temperament and character.

We deal with the dogs separation by placing the packs into different rooms. Rooms are equipped, doors are open (there is a barrier in the door) and thus we are always in touch. Well, we have a dog even in the bedroom :).

They have schedule, dogs get walked daily in 4 packs. They sleep inside the house through the night. When we go to work, we put the biggest pack into the kennels (Akitas and Shibas separately), they do not take it as punishment, they are used to it. They have their mat inside, they go in when it is open even without forcing. We also take some dogs to work with us, every day it is someone different. Females in heat are held separated in a kennel. Pregnant bitches with puppies have their own puppy room.

I have 2 sterilized females (health reasons). I haven't spotted any changes in their temperament or behavior towards others ever since they were fixed.

Dogs are with us practically all the time. They are walked in packs, they have our garden available, puppies are walked 3 times a day and adults have schedule so that nobody is neglected.

Each time a new puppy is introduced to our home, everyone welcomes it positively (be it a male or female).

Kennels for separation of the biggest part of the pack, used for better safety of dogs when owners are away.

Packs have their own rooms.

Chilling together at night.