As exciting as it may be for us to bring home a new pet, keep in mind that it might be a very stressful experience for both pets, old and new, and you too! But, don’t despair. There are several things you can do as a pet parent to ensure one happy “hairy” family. First things first, make sure your new pet has been vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms – this is especially important in households where pets already live. You don’t want to introduce diseases and parasites into your home.
If you can, introduce your pets to one another when they’re still young. Kittens and puppies are more likely to be open to “meeting” other animals and open to new experiences. But if this isn’t the case in your household, get to know the background of the new pet you’re about to introduce. Ask if they have been socialized, and in general how they interact with other animals. If your pets aren’t in the mood to hang out, don’t force it. Stay close to them and make yourself present and available. They may simply ignore one another, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually become the best of friends. Remember to stay positive and give them a little space. It may take some time for them to become comfortable with one another.
Interested in more information about animal behaviour? Check out our article about communicating with your cat or dog.
The Sniff Test
When introducing dogs, try and do it before you make any lifelong adoption decisions. Our canine friends have to sniff each other right away. You know how it is when dogs meet in the park – lots of sniffing, And maybe some playfulness. If the encounter is an aggressive one, think carefully about the dogs and whether or not their personalities are complementary. Because dogs and cats have incredible powers of smell, consider introducing scents before a face-to-face meeting. Place a toy, blanket or whatever has the scent of the new pet in your home. This way they will smell familiar when they meet. Use a plug-in pheromone diffuser around your home for the first few weeks to help the new and resident animals relax: choose the Feliway classic if its for one cat and a new pet or Feliway friends if its two or more cats, For dogs, try Adaptil.
Give Some Space
Give your new pet a space and things of its own: a bed, bowl, toys. Otherwise, you may have to play referee the whole time! If you’re introducing a second cat in the home, get a separate litter tray. Keep your resident cat in a different part of the house when you bring your new cat home –remember to introduce them gradually and for limited periods. Allow the resident pet it’s normal range at home, but keep the new pet in a confined area. Baby gates and crates are great for this!
Be Fair & Reward Good Behaviour
Keep a stash of treats on hand to reward good behaviour and reduce tension and stress. Be consistent. Uphold law and order in the house. No climbing on the sofa means no climbing on the sofa. Begging at the dinner table? Think again. Don’t make exceptions for the new pet.
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