Pet people being who they are, when they bring a new one home there’s a pretty good chance of there being another animal in the household already.
Here are some tips for making the transition as easy as possible for everyone, though variables like species, age and size of the animals also will be factors.
Introducing a dog
- Set realistic goals for the first introduction based on what you know about each animal’s background and how they’re likely to process the interaction. Keep the first meeting short.
- Stay in control of the introduction, and if possible hold it in a neutral location unfamiliar to both animals. When introducing two dogs, keep them leashed and use reliable barriers such as doors or solidly installed baby gates to keep the animals apart between meetings.
- Gradual introductions help to prevent bad behaviors from becoming entrenched and difficult to root out.
- Never leave two new-to-each-other pets together unattended. The mood or interaction between the two of them can shift with no warning.
Introducing a cat
- Bring the new cat home to a small “safe room” with all necessary items — food, water, bed, litter box, scratching posts or boards and toys.
- Allow your resident pets and new pet to get acquainted by coming up to the closed door to sniff at and hopefully play together, though some hissing or growling at first can be expected. Once they are used to each other start having them play with each other’s toys.
- Once the pets are used to each other’s scent and don’t respond negatively to it, allow them to see each other through a baby gate, screened door or door propped open a couple of inches. Place their food dishes close to each other so they can get used to eating together.
- When the pets are relatively calm around each other, let the new cat out of the safe room and allow the pets to get to know each other. Keep dogs leashed for the first meeting.