Adding a beagle puppy to a home with other pets
Should we add a beagle puppy to our house when we already have other pets?
If you already have a dog, dogs, or other pets at home, this is an important question to ask yourself before bringing in another family member. OK, some pets probably don’t care, fish are pretty much set in their own worlds, but other pets might. Some animals are better as loners and others really enjoy company. Beagles tend to be pack animals but we had one that really needed to be the Queen Bee and should have been a lone dog. This made our time with two dogs more difficult and frustrating, but we learned some big lessons from the experience. The most important question to ask yourself is will the new addition make life more stressful or more fulfilling (after the puppy time is over, of course)?
So you think your current dog or dogs would benefit from the addition of another pack member. What are your current dogs like? Do they play well with others? Do they tend to like larger or smaller dogs to play with? Some dogs will do better if their new buddy is older, others will tolerate a puppy well. Remember for those first few months your puppy will have those incredibly sharp puppy teeth to grab ears and tails with. If you know your dog really does not do well with puppies or smaller breeds, consider and older adoption or a larger breed instead.
If the other family pets are a different species, cats for example, there are a few more issues to work out. Would the existing pet tolerate another family member? How will you deal with food and litter box issues? Beagles are scent hounds, kitty crunchies can be a delicacy to them, you have been warned! Some cats really do not like dogs or other cats even, if this is your cat, you may be better off with another cat or just waiting for a while before adding a puppy or dog to your home. Cats and dogs can get along quite well, our dogs don’t understand it, they see a cat run they chase, but plenty of other dogs and cats do get along well. If you do have cats that are not used to dogs, you want to make sure your cat has safe areas it can go to until their relationship with your new dog is worked out. If you have a cat that thinks it’s fun to torment your new dog, make sure the dog has safe areas it can go to until they figure out a way to work it out.
So we’ve decided it’s a good idea to add a new member to our family, what next?
Take a good look at your existing pet personalities. Are they mellow, full of energy, loners or snugglers? Also look at your personality, do you want this new addition to be a playmate for the other pets or a snuggler for you? A walking/running/hiking buddy or a couch potato? We want to help you find the right puppy for your situation and may steer you towards a puppy with a personality that might suit you better. We watch our puppies for any signs of food aggression and would avoid placing those pups in a home with other dogs.
Another important question is what sex puppy should we add to the family? The general rule of thumb is to add member of the opposite sex, however, I personally think the individual personalities of the pets are more important. Yes, males can be more aggressive with each other and females can have their issues as well (there is a reason they are called bitches). At the same time, we know plenty of households where there are all males or all females in the pets and everyone gets along great. Our Hunter Blue has never been territorial unless Piper is in heat and has no problems playing with other males at the parks and dog parks he visits, and he is intact. If you do not plan to breed, neutering your pups can reduce any aggression based issues as well.
One thing we do to try to help the transition from our house to yours if you have other pets is to take a cloth and get your new puppy’s smell really worked in to it and have you take that home with you before the new puppy comes home. Leave this cloth where your other pets can get accustomed to the new puppy’s scent. Hopefully this will make the new arrival a little more familiar when it does arrive home. When you bring your little one to your house, try to introduce the new member of the family in a somewhat neutral area, out in the front yard if possible or somewhere close by. Let them get to know each other a bit before taking the puppy into the house or into the backyard. Keep an eye out for any signs of aggression. Take it slowly until you know they get along.
In general, let the new addition and existing family pets work out their new pack order. Unless you see blood or serious signs of aggression, try to stay out of it and let them work it out. Initially, feed the new family member away from every one else. At some point they may be able to share nicely or you may still have to feed them in different areas, keep an eye on them for food obsession or aggression as the relationships form. We’ve been in both situations, we can feed Hunter Blue and Piper just about right next to each other, but Astro and Maya had to be fed on opposite sides of the kitchen.
Existing pets will help you train your new puppy, but be aware that the new puppy will likely teach the existing pets a new trick or two as well, and not necessarily good tricks! Hunter Blue was so quiet until Piper came home, now he tends to be louder and talks and whines at us more. It is still a good idea to take your new puppy to puppy kindergarten, that one-on-one time with you is good for bonding and helps you instill the behaviors you want with the new puppy. Practicing at home is good for any other dogs you have too!
Once the critters figure out their new pack order, one will be more dominant, support the dominant pet by giving it their food and treats first. We make our dogs work for each meal and treat with a sit/stay or down/stay, put the dominant pet’s food down first and then release them at the same time.
What if it just isn’t working out?
This is a difficult situation when it happens, we’ve been there, we know! Maya drew blood with Astro on more than one occasion. We strongly encourage you try and make the situation work, maybe bring in an animal behaviorist to see if they can help, because when it does work out, it can be incredibly rewarding. Our solution to the Astro-Maya situation was to feed Astro and Maya as far apart as possible, Maya was incredibly food aggressive, and give them any treats as far apart as possible too. With some pets we would suggest feeding them in their crates if they have been crate trained as each pet can eat at their own pace and comfort level and not worry about another nose butting in and looking for a little more. Sometimes it can be a toy or family attention that is the cause of the friction, there are ways of dealing with that too. Try to find the source of the friction and look for resolution around that. When it just isn’t working no matter what you try though, sometimes you just have to make that horrible decision to re-home one of the critters. If your decision is to re-home your beagle puppy you bought from us, we encourage you to contact us and we will either help you re-home the beagle or take it back ourselves.