How to Introduce Your New Pet to Your Current Furry Friend

How to Introduce Your New Pet to Your Current Furry Friend

by Petfolk

Considering adding another member to your furry family? Introducing a new pet into the fold can be a little tricky and cause anxiety, but there are a few ways to help make the transition easier for everyone. Here are a few helpful tips on how you can make introductions and acclimations easier for your pets. 

Introducing a Dog to A Dog

While every dog is different, there are a few ways to safely introduce your new dog to your old dog. 

Introduce your dogs in neutral territory, such as in a park neither has visited before. This decreases the chance of a doggy dust-up as the older dog will not have the same territorial issues they may have in the home. Walk them together to engender feelings of being a team. Let them smell each other and get to know each other in their own ways. Avoid bringing toys or anything else your older dog could be protective of. 

After they’ve had their first meeting, bring the dogs back to the house together and put the new dog in their crate. Let your older dog do what they would normally do so they feel comfortable and also so the new dog can watch. This will give your older dog a feeling of control and reduce potential territorial issues while modeling appropriate behavior for your new dog. 

After a little time has passed, let the new dog out of the crate to roam under your supervision. If either of the dogs exhibits behaviors like snarling, biting, growling, or they start being territorial or protective, separate them. Do not leave the dogs alone together until they appear to be comfortable with each other. If issues arise, consult a trainer or your veterinarian for support resources. 

Introducing a Cat to a Cat

Cats are very territorial animals, so plan on the acclimation process taking a little time. Often the cat currently “in residence” at your home can feel threatened by a new pet and act out aggressively. Take the introduction process slow and be observant of all of your cat’s reactions for the best results. 

Start by creating a separate space for your new kitten or cat. This should be comfortable for them and seen as a haven for them to relax. Their safe space should be securely shut off from the rest of the house and your older cat. It should have all the necessities like food and water bowls, a litter box, a soft sleeping space, and lots of toys. You should plan on keeping the new cat separated for the first few days they are in the home. 

Introduce the cats via scent before a whisker-to-whisker meeting. Give your cats each an item, like a blanket or toy, with the other cat’s scent on it. Put it in a place where the cat feels comfortable. Do not approach the cat with the item as it can feel threatened. 

Once the cats are used to each other’s scents, start giving limited access visits such as sniffing each other through a gate, crate, or under the door. Once they are behaving in a positive manner, you can introduce them. It’s highly recommended that you have another human partner (or two) for introductions. Bring them into a space you can easily maneuver and control and then let them sniff each other and say hello. If either cat starts to get aggressive, hiss, or arch their backs, separate them and try to calm them down. Continue the process until they get used to each other and can be left without supervision. This can take anywhere from a week to a month or more depending on the temperament of both your older and new cat. If your cats show any signs of distress like excessive vocalization, inappropriate urination, or abnormal grooming, contact your veterinarian.  

Introducing a Cat and a Dog

As most people know, cats and dogs in general have very different temperaments. When introducing a cat and a dog, let the cat take the lead. 

Dogs are more likely to get friendly fast, wanting to sniff their new friend and crowd their space which can upset a cat. Keep your dog on a leash during the introduction and reward them for calm behavior. Give praise, but don’t get them overexcited. Be sure to make the introductions indoors because some dogs will be perfectly polite indoors but may stalk a cat outdoors as though it was a squirrel or rabbit. 

After your pets start getting used to each other in a controlled, indoor environment, you can slowly become less restrained and let your dog off the leash, but still, closely watch the interactions. If anyone gets aggressive or displays red flag behaviors, separate them immediately. Every time they have a good interaction, reward them with praise, affection, or a treat to reinforce positive behavior. The ultimate goal for a cat and dog relationship is that they won’t really be interested in each other leading to a peaceful home. 

We hope these guidelines help your new pet and your older pet meet and develop a respectful, loving furry sibling relationship. If you have additional questions about pet behaviors, contact your veterinarian or a highly-rated animal trainer for advice and assistance.

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