Tips for introducing new pets!

Posted on: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Have you been thinking of adding a new furry friend to your family? Here are some tips on choosing the best match and introducing them into your home.

When considering a new pet, it's best to start by thinking about your other pets' personalities and what kind of a pet would work well in your home. Are your pets older and relaxed? A super active, young pet might not be the best match. Is your pet playful and cuddly? A pet with a similar demeanor might be great! While it cannot be perfectly guaranteed how new pets will respond to one another, trying to find complementary traits is the best place to start. It is helpful to find out whether or not your prospective new pet has lived with other animals before and to consider your current pets' history with others as well.

A new cat..

  • Give your new cat a safe space Set up a calm and comfortable place for your new cat to settle into before bringing your them home. Try to find a small room, perhaps a bathroom or spare bedroom, where your new pet can adjust to the new environment, get to know you and smell your current pets in a safe environment.

  • Introduce your new pets by smell first Swapping bedding, toys, or other items between your current cat(s) your new cat can help ease into the introduction process.
  • Be sure your new cat is comfortable before introducing them Your new pet should stay in their nook until they are comfortable enough and ready to explore the rest of your home, this could take a week or so or could be as soon as you bring them home, depending on their personality.

  • Arrange supervised visits Once your new friend is ready to explore, take him or her out on supervised visits. Let them explore at their own pace and meet and greet your current pets on their own, with you watching and making sure all goes smoothly.
  • Don't let hissing worry you Hissing and growling are a normal part of cat introductions. If things get heated, return your new cat to it's safe space and try again later.
  • Promote positive interactions Give treats and play with fun toys so the pets start to associate one another with happy times. As everyone becomes more accustom to one another, your new cat can begin to have free reign to move about the home.

A new dog...

  • Make introductions on neutral ground Try and introduce everyone in as neutral a spot as possible, perhaps outside somewhere if your other pet is also a dog. If you have more than one pet already, try to introduce each pet individually.
  • Walks are a great way to introduce dogs Walks provide a bit of familiarity and a little distraction. Hold the dogs at a short lead length, and keep a brisk pace during the walk. Treats can help to reward good behavior. Bring a friend on this first walk in case the dogs need to be separated.
  • Supervise your pets' interactions Early on, avoid leaving pets together unsupervised. Instead, use a transitional room or crate for a period after the initial introduction. Separate dogs during feeding time, and remove any highly desirable toys or items in order to prevent fights.
  • Don't let growling worry you Growling is a normal part of dog introductions. If things get heated, return your new dog to it's safe space and try again later.
  • Reward the behavior you desire Let both dogs know when they are doing a good job, by giving them a small treat. Treats can cause competitiveness, so be sure to give them in a way that minimizes this. Having both dogs sit and stay before giving a treat is a good idea.
Remember, the key to introducing a new pet is to gradually introduce new experiences. All animals should be provided with a private 'safe space' during the first few weeks, especially when unsupervised. Lots of quality time with the pets is also crucial until they become comfortable with each other. By following these tips, you'll be on your way to successfully introducing a new furry friend into the family!

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