There is a lot of information out there about adding a new puppy to your family. There is not as much info about reasons to adopt an adult dog. This post is about adopting an adult dog and tips for adding that second dog to your home.
Adopting an adult dog brings extra challenges, especially when you already have other pets. It can be easier OR more challenging than adding a puppy, depending on many factors.
IN THIS POST (click below to jump ahead):
- Info about our second weimaraner
- 10 reasons to adopt an adult dog
- Tips for introducing your second dog to your current dog
We are adopting Remy’s 2-year-old sister. They have the same parents but are from different litters. Remy is about 2 years older. UPDATE: We decided not to adopt Raven after all due to her issues with cats 🙁
New pup “Raven” is crate trained and has been living a good life. She gets tons of exercise (very important for weims).
Raven has been raised with her breeder. There are special benefits to this. For example, Raven should be pretty similar to her brother Remy as far as personality and energy. We have some idea of what we’re getting into!
She also has a lot on her “resume.” Here is a sampling:
- Natural Ability Prize 1 with NAVDHA at just 7 months (hunt test)
- Weimaraner Club of America Novice Shooting Dog title
- AKC Junior Hunter – 2 legs earned
- RATI – Barn Hunt Instinct
- RATN – Barn Hunt Novice
I feel so lucky for the chance to adopt this dog! She is going to be another great running buddy.
Now, here are my 10 reasons to adopt an adult dog in general vs. getting a puppy. Next, I’ll share several ideas for adding a second dog to your home.
There are benefits to buying or adopting a puppy, of course. They are somewhat of a “clean slate” there for you to mold (for better or worse).
But there are also some real benefits of getting an adult dog.
1. You can start exercising an adult dog right away.
For me, this is one of the top reasons to adopt an adult dog! While I do take little puppies for walks right away, I don’t start running with puppies until they are at least 6 months old. And even then it is a slow, short “jaunt” for a few months. I give them time for their joints to develop.
See my post: How far can I walk my puppy?
With a mature adult, you can ease into a running routine right away. Building up gradually, of course, depending on what the dog is used to. I plan to take Raven on a couple of 2-3 mile runs to see how she does and then slowly build up the miles. She’s fit but is not used to leash running.
2. Adult dogs are fully vaccinated (usually).
Puppies usually need additional booster shots, and until then you have to be somewhat mindful of where you take them and who they socialize with. Adult dogs, on the other hand, have likely had their shots or you can have them done right away. You shouldn’t have to worry about your adult dog picking up diseases like parvo or distemper.
See my post: Can you walk a puppy before it has its shots?
3. They have the attention span for training.
Adult dogs can focus for more than 30 seconds! Haha.
4. Size and personality are clear.
You know what you’re getting into. Although, it can take up to a month or so for an adult dog’s true personality to shine in their new home. The first few days, they might be overly excited and stressed or a bit shut down or scared.
If the dog lived in a foster home or with their previous owner before coming to you, they should be able to tell you a lot about the dog’s personality, behavior, energy and “quirks.”
For example, I know Raven will chew up blankets (like her brother) and she loves the water and playing fetch. I also know that she has an easygoing personality and has done well with other large dogs, both males and females.
5. Most adult dogs are already potty trained.
Not the case with Raven, as she has lived as an outdoor dog. However, I think it will be easier to potty train her compared to a puppy. Since she is an adult, she can hold it longer and won’t have to go every 30 minutes. And she already has the habit of going potty outside since that’s what she’s used to doing.
6. Might have had some basic obedience training.
One of the reasons to adopt an adult dog is some dogs have had at least some basic training such as “sit” or “come.” They may also be crate trained or potty trained and they likely have experience walking on a leash. They’ve likely had some life experiences like riding in a car and going to the vet so not everything is brand new to them.
7. Adult dogs are past the chewing, biting and teething stage.
Young adult dogs might still want to chew on shoes and furniture, etc. However, they should be past the crazy teething stage as well as the puppy mouthing/biting stage. You’ll still need to supervise your adult dog and help them learn the rules, but they won’t be quite as crazy as a 12-week-old puppy!
8. The dog might already be spayed or neutered.
This could be a pro or a con, depending on your situation. But for most of us in the United States anyway, it’s a positive thing if the dog is already spayed or neutered.
That way you don’t have to worry about marking (as much), surgery cost, recovery time or females going into heat.
There are also pros if the dog has not been spayed or neutered yet. For example, most research says it’s best to wait to have a dog (male or female) spayed or neutered until they are fully developed. Raven is not spayed yet, and 2 years old is the perfect age for it, in my opinion.
See my posts:
9. You could save a dog’s life.
I’m not adopting a dog from a shelter, but one of the reasons to adopt an adult dog is you might be saving a dog’s life. You’re also opening up a place at the shelter or rescue group for another dog in need.
10. Adult dogs have less energy than puppies!
One of the best reasons to adopt an adult dog and save yourself some sanity!
Cons to adopting an adult dog
While this post is focused on the reasons to adopt an adult dog, I do want to mention a few of the “cons.” In some ways, getting a puppy is easier. Here’s what I mean:
- Bad habits may already be developed. Behaviors such as barking, digging, counter surfing, pulling on the leash.
- May be nervous of things they haven’t been exposed to such as car rides, bikers, new people, children or other dogs
- You don’t get to experience that cute puppy stage! (OK with me! haha!)
- The dog may not have been properly socialized to other dogs, cats, children, men, etc. (In our case, we did not adopt Raven after all due to her serious aggression around cats. No fault of her own, it’s just what it is.)
OK, now I’m going to share some tips on introducing your adult dog to your home if you already have pets.
1. Head out for long, long walks with both dogs.
I’m sure this won’t surprise any of you. I plan to take Remy and Raven on a long walk together almost immediately as their introduction to each other. (One of the reasons to adopt an adult dog – you can go for long walks right away!)
A long walk will help Raven get to know her surroundings and help her get familiar with us. And visa versa.
I’m not going to allow any nose-to-nose sniffing right away. Instead, we’re going to head out for a “pack walk.” My husband Josh handling one dog and myself handling the other. We’ll start out with some space between and keep moving. If all goes well, we’ll allow the dogs to sniff each other after a few minutes.
A walk helps a dog decompress from the stress of travel or shelter life and will burn some energy!
We will have a few challenges, however. Raven isn’t used to being walked on a leash, and she is not used to Montana’s level of cold. We will take things in stride!
Read about how to introduce two dogs here.
2. Continued daily exercise.
I plan to provide structured walks and runs every single day for the dogs if possible, as exercise is my number one “training” tip! I’m hoping I’ll be able to handle both dogs together on my own almost right away, but time will tell. Walking them together will help us all bond as a “pack” and will save me some time.
Here are some more tips for slowly introducing dogs that will live together.
3. Use training collars for safety on walks.
You should have some sort of training collar or harness ready to make walking your new dog as easy as possible.
Perhaps a martingale collar, a prong collar or a no-pull harness would work well for your dog. Gentle Leaders also work for some dogs, but I don’t recommend one for the first walk. Gentle Leaders fit over the dog’s muzzle, and they’re hard for dogs to get used to. You want your first walk to be fun and stress free.
Since I work with the dog products company Mighty Paw, I have plenty of gear on hand! I will try out different training gear to see what Raven responds to the best. She has not had much for leash training so I assume she’s going to pull hard (like her brother, who’s had plenty of training and still pulls!). Wish me luck.
SAFETY TIP: Be extra careful that your gear fits your new dog properly as the last thing you want is for her to slip out and bolt in her new surroundings. For example, prong collars can break a part, dogs can slip out of or back out of collars that fit too loose and some dogs can twist out of harnesses.
You may want to have your leash clipped to both a harness and a collar for safety. Place the gear a little tighter than you normally would and make sure your dogs have ID tags and ideally an updated microchip as well.
4. Feed your new dog in her crate or behind a gate.
Some dogs might be too stressed to eat right away in their new environment. I don’t expect that problem with a weimaraner, but we shall see.
After a walk, my plan is to briefly show Raven around the house or maybe just part of the house (on a leash). Then I will introduce her to her spot in her crate. I will give her some food there and something to chew on like a Kong with peanut butter as well as some simple bedding like a sheet and a towel. Then I will let her have some quiet time to decompress for at least 45 minutes.
Remy will go in his crate, too. Probably nearby if they seem to be comfortable with each other. We use fold-up wire crates from our sponsor Carlson Pet Products. I plan to have them set up in the same room since Raven is used to living with other dogs.
I believe calm downtime is important for everyone the first few days to minimize stress and excitement. For the people and for the cat in the house, too!
Which brings me too …
5. Setting boundaries with our cat.
We have a senior indoor kitty – Scout – and Raven has not lived with a cat before. This is a potentially dangerous situation for our cat. Raven is a powerful hunting dog who has been introduced to retrieving birds and tracking down rats. She comes from several generations of competitive working dogs.
See our post: Can weimaraners live with cats?
We will be extremely cautious the first few weeks and continue to be careful after that, perhaps always. Raven and Scout will never be left unsupervised together and Raven will be on a leash at all times or in her crate at first.
Our current dog Remy is good with our cat, which will hopefully help Raven understand our cat is part of our “group” or “pack.” Remy is left loose in the house with our cat while I go to work. They sunbathe near each other, totally relaxed, for hours.
However, the dynamics can change when two dogs are together. Two dogs can easily become a pack – mimicking each other as a team in ways they may not act alone. So Remy will also be closely managed around our cat.
Update: We decided we could not adopt Raven due to her aggression with our cat.
E-collar training around the cat
We have a Garmin e-collar with a remote, and I will give Raven a hard correction if needed. I hope she will not be overly interested in our cat and that calm praise and treats will be enough to encourage good behavior.
If she is fixated on our cat, I will go with the e-collar route to hopefully take care of the problem faster than other training methods. I will not mess around with extremely high-drive dogs around kitties. There is not much room for error on my part.
My cat Scout will have his area with his litter box with a gate so he can get to it and feel safe. His food is on a high counter.
Raven will of course be leashed at first in the house and crated when we can’t supervise. In addition to the crate, she will be in another room behind a closed door to add an extra barrier.
We will see how they all do! Also read about how to stop a dog from chasing cats.
Update: We decided not to adopt Raven due to her cat aggression. 🙁
6. Crates and gates – more crates than dogs.
I’m a huge advocate for crate training and since Raven is already used to sleeping in a wire crate, that will help us tremendously. I received two extra crates from Carlson Pet Products so we have a total of three wire crates for two dogs!
I know not everyone has the space or the money for extra crates, but I set up two crates downstairs for at night or when I’m not able to supervise.
The third crate is upstairs in our kitchen/living room area where we spend the most time if we’re not working. This way I’ll have a place to put one dog (most likely Raven) when I need to separate the dogs or give them breaks from each other. But she will still be able to be near us.
7. Consistent routine.
I do better with a routine and so does every animal I’ve ever lived with.
We get up around the same time every day, the pets are fed at the same times, we head out for our walks around the same times every day.
The dogs learn to settle in midday when I do my most important work. I provide them with daily exercise, training and things to chew. In return, I expect them to allow me time to work uninterrupted. Crates and Kongs help with this if needed!
I’m lucky I can work from home or from my office which is only two blocks away. I’ll probably work mostly from home when Raven is adjusting to our routine. Yet, I also want to leave for short periods right away so she can get used to that as well. I do have a Nest camera set up so I can check in on how she’s doing in her crate when I’m not home.
8. Begin basic obedience training.
For Raven, it will be a lot to simply work on reinforcing her name, her routine and potty training (she’s not used to living in the house).
Raven has not had much for leash training or obedience and nothing for house rules. So we will work on the basics, which will be a lot for her to take in until she settles into our routine.
I won’t work on much more than “sit,” “down” and “stay.” Even walking on a leash in a neighborhood will be new to her. We will take things slowly, but I think she will learn fast.
I’m not sure if I will train her for agility like I do with Remy. I do want to continue her field/hunt training as she has natural talent.
9. Adjust our routine before we bring home the new dog.
My current dog Remy and cat Scout are sensitive to change. So I moved the crates where I want them ahead of time. I’ve adjusted the feeding and walk routines already. This should make the adjustment easier for all of us.
10. Prevent fights between dogs.
The dogs will have separate feeding areas, most likely in their crates.
We won’t have many toys out. I believe toys make weimaraners extra nutty and I don’t encourage excited playing in the house. They will of course get things to chew on like Kongs and Nylabones, but they will be separated at first to prevent fights.
I expect a few minor fights to happen. They’re rough and tough, obnoxious young dogs! But I also believe I can prevent most issues.
Other than that, we will see how things pan out.
Perhaps Remy will feel threatened by another dog but hopefully he’ll be eager to share his life with her. Time will tell.
Will Raven be bossy and downright bitchy? Or will she be happy-go-lucky like her brother? We shall see!
Ultimately, with two dogs, life can become quite chaotic if you let it. Believe it or not, I like a calm, structured home and I believe that’s possible even with two young weimaraners!
I believe in providing sporting breeds with what they need – TONS of exercise, consistent training and boundaries, things to chew and time to play.
In return, I believe it’s fair to ask them to give me time to work while they settle in and do nothing for a few hours midday.
Remy learned this is part of the routine right away as an 8-week-old puppy. My old guy Ace loved to nap while I worked. I think Raven will learn the routine quickly as well.
Wish us luck! We will need it!
What advice do you have about adding a second adult dog?
In the comments, I welcome your advice and tips. This is helpful for me and for anyone else about to add a second adult dog.
And if you have any questions about adding a second dog, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.