The Weekly Q&A: Ask Way of Life™ Dog Training
Adopting a Bonded Pair

Adopting a Bonded Pair

Q: We’ve rescued in the past but lately, we’ve been thinking of adopting a bonded pair. We’ve seen a few posted on social media and wondered what advice you would offer about adopting a pair of bonded dogs? 

A: This is such a good question. While adopting a bonded pair offers many advantages, there are things to keep in mind to support a truly successful adoption, one that not only benefits the pair but also the dogs as individuals.

Let’s go over some of the advantages of adopting a bonded pair. For starters, two dogs are twice the fun! We have two potentially different breeds, temperaments, and personalities to love and enjoy. The two dogs are bonded, which means they can appreciate each other’s company. It would also be fair to assume that they might be good with other dogs. 

At the same time, two dogs can be more than twice the trouble if not adequately decompressed. When we adopt a bonded pair, we need to do what most people would never think of doing, and that is temporarily severing the bond between the dogs, with the goal of building it back on healthy foundations.

Having gone through the stress of being separated from their former owners and past existence, the two dogs will have held on to each other for dear life. This over-bonding is not entirely good for the individual dogs, and it can potentially undermine the ability of these dogs to bond with their new people and adjust to their new life.

That’s why in those early stages, we need to take a pause to decompress the dogs as individuals, treating them as separate entities instead of a bonded pair. I’ve spoken a fair bit about decompression and what it entails (see note below). Basically, what we’re doing is allowing for each dog to deal with the new situation on their own and make space to bond with their people one-on-one.

Once the individual dogs appear to have adjusted to a new, predictable routine, and are responsive to, and interested in, their new owners, they can be gradually reintroduced to their canine companion. This time, however, both will come to the relationship knowing that their primary bond is with the people and therefore, will enjoy a healthier bond with each other.