If you’re bringing a new pet into your home, and you already have pets, the thought of that initial introduction can be a little stressful. You just never know how they might react to one another. Whether you’re adding a newly adopted furry member to your family or moving in with a new roommate, family member or spouse who has pets, combining households can be a tricky transition. Sure, you might see it as them gaining a new brother or sister, but they might see it as a stranger stepping on their territory.
Whatever has brought you to this new introduction, here are some tips that will help make the transition easier on everyone:
Dog + Dog
The key to introducing two dogs is to keep the initial interaction short and sweet. During these early visits, you never want to leave the dogs unsupervised. Stay nearby, and keep a close eye on them. You want to be on the lookout for any signs of aggression, and if you see anything at all, separate them immediately. You don’t want things to escalate to where they associate fear and aggression with one another. You want everything to be calm, filled with praise, and don’t forget those treats! Always reward them for good behavior.
Cat + Cat
Introductions between two cats can sometimes be a bit trickier than with two dogs. For them, the best approach is one that’s entirely staged. You’ll want to start out simply by keeping them in entirely separate rooms. This way, they can get used to each other’s sounds and scents. The next step is to then let them spend a short period of time together in the same room but under your supervision at all times. If all goes well, you can continue to build on these short interactions until they become familiar enough to tolerate one another.
Cat + Dog
There’s a certain stigma that carries among the masses that cats and dogs don’t mix. Well, fortunately, this just isn’t true. When introducing a cat to a dog and vice versa, you want to keep things as calm and stress-free as possible, especially for the cat. In fact, you really want to let the cat set the pace for the interaction.
One thing that can help make sure that everyone is as calm as possible entering into the introduction is to tire the dog out, say with a long walk, extra playtime in the park, etc. before bringing the two pets together. This way, the dog will be just tired enough to maintain his or her composure so that their energy and excitement don’t get the better of them. When you bring the two together, make sure to do so with the dog properly restrained on a leash. Then, you just have to be patient, and whatever you do, don’t try to force the interaction. You have to let it come together on their time.
Introducing adult pets is one thing, but introducing puppies into your home can be an entirely different experience. Whether your dog is expecting puppies, you’re adopting a new puppy or you’re fostering a new litter, there are a few things you need to know in order to socialize them properly to become happy, healthy members of your family.
At just three weeks old, puppies become mobile and alert. This is a great time to start introducing them to the whole family. Start introducing them to people of all sizes, ages, sexes and ethnicities, just be sure to keep all interactions calm. You don’t want to overwhelm the little fur balls. As their comfort levels increase, you can continue to expose them to more handling and activities.
For homes where the mother dog is around, this level of handling her pups can cause a bit of tension. Often, you’ll find that mothers still nursing will show signs of aggression during this stage. But, you can still begin socializing the pups. You’ll just need to separate mom for a bit. Put her in another room while the puppies are being handled to keep the peace and avoid teaching the puppies their mother’s aggressive behavior. You certainly don’t want them growing up thinking that growling is acceptable behavior, for example.
The most important thing is to never force an introduction. These things take time and patience. But, if you find that you’re encountering certain problems or tensions between the pets in your home even after taking all of the necessary precautions, consult with your veterinarian for advice and training tips.