Introducing new pets into your home is exciting! But if you have other pets, they may not be as excited about this newcomer to their established space!
Many folks get a new fur baby around the holidays. Here’s some advice from the Humane Society as well as my own personal experience for introducing new pups and kitties into your home when you already have established pets.
Introducing a New Dog Into Your Home
When introducing new dogs to each other, you’ll need two handlers for each dog. Find an open space outdoors that is neutral territory and bring both dogs to the area on leashes.
Each handler should stay about 15 feet apart and walk their dog in the same direction. Each time a pup looks at the other one, give a high value treat. Keep doing this for several minutes until the pups are not focused on each other but on the dog treats.
When the dogs appear calm, each handler can move three feet closer toward each other. Give a treat if the pups are still just glancing at each other and not appearing anxious.
(This process may take a few walks to establish calm. This method is helpful if you have high-strung dogs; they may be nervous when you take them out for their regular daily walk and encounter other dogs on leashes in your neighborhood.)
Continue moving closer until each handler is walking side-by-side with each pup on their far side. Leashes should be loose! After a few minutes, let the dogs sniff and circle each other. If that goes well, give a treat, and continue walking, allowing the dogs more freedom of movement.
Finally, they can get to know each other better in the resident dog’s backyard without leashes. If all goes well here, the new dog can come inside and begin inspecting his new home.
Ensure you have removed all bones, food, or toys to avoid guarding behavior or possessiveness. If play becomes too exciting, separate the dogs for a while. Also, if there are areas you don’t want the new dog to go, take the appropriate measures immediately and be consistent moving forward.
When it’s feeding time, feed in separate areas for the first week. You can gradually move the bowls closer together in the same room as their temperaments allow. Decide on sleeping arrangements once you’ve come to know the new dog better, and let your established pet do their usual thing!
Introducing a New Cat Into Your Home
For new cats entering the home with a pre-established pet, keep them separate for the first week! Make sure your new kitty has her own room — with a door that securely closes — complete with a litterbox, food, water, and something to hide under.
If you have a pre-established dog, he’ll spend time sniffing under the door. Let this happen. Both pets need to smell each other before being in contact.
After a couple of days, consider feeding the dog outside the door and place the cat food bowl close on her side of the door. A few days later, put up a baby gate so they can see each other but not get too close. Kitty will decide when it’s time to meet nose-to-nose, so let it happen organically.
If the dog barks a lot, remove him, and try again later. Each time he sees the cat behind the gate and doesn’t bark, he gets a treat. After another few days, remove the gate if your dog can act calmly around the kitty. Let them work out their new relationship from that point on. But always ensure the cat has something high on which to jump!
So many families have successfully integrated a new fur baby into an established pet home. But not everyone does it without stress. Animals don’t always make friends with the new kid in town right off the bat, so remain aware of each one’s needs and comfort. And what’s cuter than seeing two former strangers cuddled up with each other in the same bed at nap time?!
For more info, visit the Animal Humane Society for more detailed guidance.
If you feel you need professional advice on introducing new pets into your home, the kind folks at the Humane Society have specialists that deal with new pet interactions. Reach them at: 952-435-7738.