Introducing a New Pet to Your Family
Take it Slow
Adopting a pet is always an exciting event. If you already have other furry friends living in your home, care needs to be taken when welcoming a new member to the family. First of all, ensure that your new pet is vaccinated and wormed before bringing him/her into your home. This is more important when the animal is a stray your rescuing from the street or acquiring from another owner. Pets adopted from shelters or purchased from a breeder are most likely already up to date on vaccinations and parasite free.
Once your new buddy is healthy, keep this tips in mind when introducing him/her to your family. Cats and dogs behave differently, so each species has it's own tips/tricks to the introduction process.
Dog to Dog Introductions
- Find out as much history as possible about your new friend. If you have kids in your home, make sure he/she is familiar with children and isn't aggressive or "snippy." A dog that is fearful needs to be watched carefully around children.
- Also make sure he/she is okay with other dogs. If the new family member hasn't been well socialized around other animals, there may be a problem if you have another dog in the house.
- Set up a first meeting in mutual territory. Your current dog will feel more comfortable and less territorial if the meeting takes place outside your home and even off your property. Have them meet each other for the first time at a local park.
- Make sure both dogs are on leashes! Allow them to see each other from a distance and if things go well, allow them to get closer. Dogs will want to "check each other out" which generally includes a little butt sniffing.
- If things go well, congratulations! If one of the dogs starts growling or showing raised hackles, be wary. Don't force them on each other!
- If the initial meeting goes well, it's time to go home as a family! Keep an eye on them when they're together for the first few days to make sure things go smoothly. Your current buddy may get protective over items in the house including food bowls and beds.
- Don't leave them home alone together for the first few days! You want to be sure there won't be any squabbles while you're not around.
Cat to Cat Introductions
- Cats typically behave the same way when they first meet. There's hissing, spitting and running away. This doesn't mean they hate each other and will never get a long. Cats are just a little more finicky about who they decide to be friends with.
- If you're introducing a kitten to an older cat, the older cat will likely be the one that's a little hesitant at first. Kittens get along with everyone!
- Introducing 2 male cats or 2 female cats will be more difficult. Especially if they're older or not neutered!
- Start off by leaving the new cat in it's carrier and letting them smell each other for awhile. This will prevent any fighting.
- The next step is to confine the new cat to a small room with it's own litter box and food. The cats will smell each other under the door and maybe even have a little conversation. This tactic is always a good idea when bringing a new cat into your home. Having run of the entire house can be overwhelming and very scary. Having a small space of it's own gives your kitty time to get used to the new smells and surroundings.
- After a day or two, let the new cat out of it's room while you're present. Watch how they interact. It's not uncommon for them to hiss or growl at each other. This typically doesn't end up in a fight, because one of them will likely run away and hide for awhile.
- Eventually the two friends will become accustomed to having each other around. Some cats will become friends, some will just learn to tolerate living with one another.
- Remember to provide one more litter box than there are cats. So if you have 2 cats, there should be 3 litter boxes in your home.
- In a case where the cats end up fighting or are constantly showing aggression to each other after a week has passed, it's probably not going to work out.
Hopefully things turn out well and everyone "just gets along." Remember that this process takes time and supervision. Don't just throw 2 animals together and expect them to get along right away. This may be the case, but you don't want to take any chances.