Billings_iStock_000026445873_LargeCongratulations! You’ve made the best decision ever (as far as we’re concerned) by choosing to invite a furry friend into your home and family. As exciting as this is, though; it’s also a time for some careful planning to make sure every-fuzzy gets along for years to come.

Surely you’ve planned the pickup and safe drive home with your new friend, you’ve got your food and new toys all picked out, and all the blankets and bedding are at the ready… So now what?

Introducing a new pet to your other animals can be tricky, and you don’t want to threaten your tried and true pets or terrify the newcomer. Your tactics will be different whether you’re bringing in a rascally kitten or a senior canine, but here are some stellar ways to start off right.

  • Give everyone a little space! – Make sure your current animals have a place to get away to. A new presence in the house, especially if it’s a young one, can be overwhelming, and you’ll want to ensure some private time for each critter to decompress. Baby gates work well to help cordon off the kitchen or use a bathroom to separate the old from the new. Cats are pretty great at finding a getaway up high or somewhere small, but dogs may need a little more help with boundaries.
  • Stick to the routine – You don’t want to change up your pets schedule along with bringing an interloper into your home! Keep feeding times regular and take your dogs for their walks as usual. You’ll want to keep the stress level down for your “old” pets and train your new one to know there’s a plan.
  • It’s all about the nose – Smells are the most vibrant sense to cats and dogs, which is why it’s recommended to introduce animals to each other’s smell before they meet.
  • Avoid a cat-astrophe – We all know cats can be territorial and just a wee bit jealous, so a slow introduction of a new pet to your cat can save you from aggressive behavior or territorial marking (which is no fun to clean up!). Keep the animals separated till they get used to each other, let them sniff through the door jam till they can smell the other without acting up. Closely supervise all interactions and praise them both with lots of treats so they associate each other with good things.
  • Leader of the Pack – Introducing dogs in a neutral location helps prevent territorial aggression from the start. It may take a few meetings before they are ready to share the same car or space so plan accordingly. Dogs will benefit from a strict adherence to the pack structure when it comes to a new animal. You are the leader and both dogs should know this. Don’t let either dog be the bully, one may be more dominant but you are in charge! Distraction is your greatest ally, always have toys and treats at the ready to disarm an unwanted situation and have separate spaces prepared for them each to calm down.
  • Snuggles! –  Don’t forget to give your old pets lots of personal time. Even if they are all getting along beautifully they may be feeling jealous of your attention and need some extra special snuggle time. The new animal will need some comfort as well, a new environment can be scary! You probably won’t mind either.
  • Although we have a fantasy of the perfect meeting of instant best friends, it’s probable that acclimating your pets to each other will take a little work and some adjustment time. We can’t force our pets to be friends, but given proper introductions and a little patience they will probably turn into boon companions. Even if they just sniff each other and walk away, that’s a great start.

    Professional training is always an option if you feel you need some assistance but most likely they will work it out among themselves, please feel free to give us a call for more information.

    Congratulations on your new family member!