Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer

Ginger gets a Buddy.


Hi Tom,

We have a happy and healthy 10-year-old female golden retriever, Ginger, and are considering the addition of another golden to our family. At present we have the opportunity of adopting an 18-month-old male golden, Buddy, who has no manners. I am a stay-at-home mom with an active 8-year-old son and a very busy husband. What is the best way for us to successfully introduce this obstreperous fellow into our household? Our Ginger has met Buddy, and they have played nicely together; on occasion she has put him in his place. It is nice that although they are differing in age, they are about the same size, and enjoy running and playing. We want to make sure that Ginger wants a Buddy and does not want to overwhelm him. I am hoping that a younger dog may help her retain her playfulness. We could really use your help.

The Golden Family

Dear Golden Family,

Assuming Ginger and Buddy harmonize as sister and younger brother, I think the adoption is a great idea for several reasons. So very many older dogs languish in shelters while waiting to be adopted because so many people “think they want a puppy.” Then, when the reality of housebreaking, destructive chewing, mouthing, and all the other unwanted puppy behaviors present themselves, the hapless pup ends up in a shelter, continuing the cycle of too many dogs needing to be adopted.

As for Ginger, the likelihood is she will become re-energized by Buddy’s enticements to play, and by the need, as you said, to “put him in his place.” The fact that they met already and played is a great start. I suggest that before you actually pick Buddy up to bring him home, that you “exchange their scents on a positive basis.” Ask the shelter personnel to rub Buddy with a couple of rags or dish towels and give them to you to put under Ginger’s food bowel and where she sleeps. Where she sleeps and eats are two very positive places for Ginger to associate with Buddy’s scent. And do the same for Buddy in the shelter with Ginger’s scent.

As for Buddy’s actual coming home to stay day, be prepared with a crate, and go out of your way to make Buddy love the crate. Without closing the crate door, feed him his two meals a day in it. If you can have the crate located in the loop of activity, every so often let him see you toss a small treat in it, and tell him what a good boy he is when he’s in there. When you pick him up to leave the shelter, have Ginger with you, and all go for a nice walk together.

See if you can find a fenced-in area where they can romp together off-leash for a few minutes. Then you all go home together! Since it is much easier to prevent than to correct, I suggest Buddy be disallowed from getting on any furniture or beds, even if Ginger is allowed. Forget about the fact that it doesn’t seem fair — it’s OK! You mentioned that Buddy has no manners, so I highly recommend that you get a pro to help you on day one to manage the jumping, mouthing, pulling, etc. It will make a big difference to your quality of life. You’re one of the “good guys” for adopting — congratulations and thanks.

The Dogcharmer