Bringing a new pet into our lives is a fun and exciting time. For our other pets, though, it can be an uncertain an unsettling experience. With a few simple steps (and lots of patience!) we can help improve the chances of everyone getting along.
Simply putting two new animals together and expecting them to just get along is asking for trouble… first impressions matter, and if your new furry family members don’t hit it off in the beginning, it’s possible they may never learn to get on.
Although it’s tempting to give your new pet free roam of the house, it’s best to initially put them in a crate or separate room out of sight of your existing pets. Not only does this give them the opportunity to slowly get used to their surroundings, but after a few days their scent will be on their bedding and toys. Cats and dogs have a very strong sense of smell, and we can use this to our advantage when introducing a new pet.
Once your new furry friend has had a couple of days to settle in, swap their bedding and toys with your existing pet’s. This gives everyone a chance to get used to each other’s smell.
The next step is to put your existing pet family members in a separate room (or outside) and allowing your new pet out for 15-20 mins at a time, allow your other pets to roam the house, picking up the smell of the new addition to the family.
Your furry family members might be a bit confused by the new smells and in need of reassurance. You will know you’re ready for a face-to-face meeting when your pets are no longer running around chasing the new scent.
Introducing your pets
When you’re doing the first face-to-face meeting between two dogs, it’s best to organize this on a neutral territory away from your house. Most dogs can feel a little territorial when another animal first enters their home. It’s best to do this in a small, enclosed area. Be cautious, and look for positive signs such as high tail wagging. If they are not getting along, separate them and try getting them used to each other’s scents again. If they still do not appear happy when meeting you may need to seek the advice of a trainer of behaviorist.
If you are introducing two cats to each other, start by feeding them on opposite sides of a door, gradually moving their food bowls closer to the door. When they are comfortable with that, open the door slightly so they can see each other while they are eating. Always have a safe place for each cat to escape to; a box or crate they can hide in if they feel to overwhelmed. By taking it slowly, your two cats should be able to adjust to each other over time.