The worst offense I always see well meaning pet owners do is throw pets together without properly introducing them first. The truth is the FIRST you way you present pets to each other sets the tone for the future of how your pets will get along.
Now having said this… Maybe you’ve gotten lucky in the past so you didn’t know it was this big of a deal. WELL IT IS.
It is important to understand the pet that was first in the home has established it as their territory and you as their person & family, and in the animal world and mentality this means they have to protect it from outsiders at any cost.
So when you just bring an outside, new animal to join your existing pet family without introducing them properly… It is insulting and disrespectful. In many cases when the well intentioned human does this brutal fights break out between the pets which can lead to serious injury if not death.
Also your existing pet will feel betrayed by you and you will ruin some degree of trust in your relationship with them that is very hard to repair. And last but not least in many cases the existing pet will get depressed and in some cases I’ve seen it escalate to illness.
If you think about it this makes sense…
For instance,How would you feel if you were happily married and your spouse one day came home with a NEW Wife or Husband? You’d probably be thinking WTF right? & want immediate answers. To add insult to injury your spouse’s reaction is “Oh they’re going to be living here now and sharing everything that’s yours ESPECIALLY ME and you guys are going to be he best of friends… Doesn’t sound to good right? Well the same goes for your pets.
Now that I’ve made my point I’m going to give you some foundational ways to introduce a NEW PET properly so everybody knows what’s going on and feels respected. This not only helps morale in the home but it give the new pet a better chance of fitting in smoothly.
Foundational Steps to Introduce a NEW DOG into the Home
1. Have the dogs meet on-leash on neutral territory first: this can be a neighbor’s yard, a training center, tennis court, etc. Have both dogs on-leash. Take the dogs for a walk together, keeping 10 feet between them so that they cannot greet one another or stare. Make sure you have yummy treats to reinforce this experience as a positive one. The idea is simply to acclimate them to each other’s presence without causing tension.
2. Next, have the dogs meet with leashes dragging on neutral territory. Avoid problem areas like gates, doorways or closely confined space: the more room they have to move, the less tension there will be. Wait 2 minutes while they sniff each other, then call them away giving each a treat or two and move around a bit. If they start to play and it seems to be going well, let them play for a few minutes and then end the session. We want each initial interaction to end on a good note!
3. Finally, have the dogs meet at home: first in the yard, then inside the house. Before the in-house introduction, take the resident dog out to the yard, then bring new dog inside (bringing the new dog inside to meet resident dog can create a negative reaction because the resident dog is in their territory). Keep each interaction short and pleasant: if signs of tension arise, separate the dogs immediately and try again later. Remember that the introduction will set the tone for their relationship, so it’s important to set everyone up for success!
4. Keep the dogs separate while you are away, either in separate rooms or crates. This is both to prevent injurious fights and the development of inappropriate behavior in your new dog (such as chewing and house soiling trying to mark the territory as their own).
Foundational Steps to Introduce a NEW CAT into the Home
First things first
– Have your cats examined by your vet before introductions to make sure they’re all healthy.
– Have one litter box per cat plus an extra one.
– Try to keep your resident pets’ routine as close to what it was before the newcomer’s arrival.
– Make sure all cats have a “safe” place to escape to.
1. Please allow time for the newcomer to adjust to you and their new situation, keep them in a small room with their litter box, food, water, scratching post, toys and a bed for several days to a week.
2. Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room, so that they associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s smells. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat.
3. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly while standing directly on either side of the door.
4. Try to get your pets to interact with a toy. Tie a toy to each end of a string, then place it so there’s a toy on either side of the door. Hopefully, they’ll start batting the toys around and maybe even batting paws.
5. Be sure to spend plenty of time with your new kitty in their room, but don’t ignore your resident cat.
6. To animals, smells are far more important than appearances, so you want to get your pets used to each other’s scent before they meet face-to-face.
7. Swap the blankets or beds the cats use, or gently rub a washcloth on one cat’s cheeks and put it underneath the food dish of another. If there are more than two animals in the house, do the same for each animal. When the pets finally do meet, at least their scents will be familiar.
8. Once your new cat is using their litter box and eating regularly while confined, let them have free time in the house while confining your other pets to the new cat’s room. It’s best to introduce your new cat to a room or two at a time and increase their access to other rooms over a few days. This switch provides another way for them to experience each other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to get familiar with their new surroundings without the other animals frightening them.
9. You can do this several times a day, but only when you’re home to supervise. If you have to leave the house, put your new kitty back in their room.
10. Next, after you’ve returned the cats to their designated parts of the house, use two doorstops to prop open the dividing door just enough to allow the animals to see each other.
11. Repeat the whole process over a period of days—supervised, of course.
12. It’s better to introduce your pets to each other gradually so that neither animal becomes afraid or aggressive. Once the cats are face to face, though, there will be some kinks for them to work out.
13. If you’re really lucky, your cats may do some mutual sniffing and grooming, and you’re on your way to success. They may sit and stare at each other. You can provide distraction by dangling toys in front of them at the same time. This may encourage them to play together.
14.They might sniff each other, hiss and walk away. That’s to be expected. This may go on for a few days or so, and then you’ll probably find them both sleeping on your bed.
These are some great foundational tips to get you started & guarantee your success with introducing a new pet into your home. Of course there are more specific instructions to follow, if you are interested please give me a call and I will be more than happy to schedule a in-home pet session for you.
REMEMBER PETS RULE!