How to Introduce a New Pet To Your Other Pets
Whether you’ve picked out the biggest set of puppy-dog eyes from a shelter or chosen the cutest kitten from a litter, you’ve got a new family member you can’t wait to bring home. You’ve bought their food bowls, selected a name, and arranged to have them microchipped. There’s just one problem left – how to introduce your new pet to your other pets. And it’s a big one.
Animals can be very protective of their territory and their humans, so they don’t always take kindly to newcomers. Knowing how to introduce your new pet to your other pets is crucial. If things go pear-shaped in that first introduction, it can set the tone for the rest of your pets’ relationship. A little forward planning is all it takes to help your pets become friends!
How To Introduce Your New Dog To Your Other Dogs
Start by making a separate area for your new dog’s things; a different room is best. Put their bedding, toys, and most importantly their food and water bowls in there. Feeling like their food is threatened is the easiest way to get your dog’s hackles raised! A baby gate or pet gate is ideal for giving each dog their own space.
It’s best to keep first introductions brief, and in a neutral area – a dog park or on a walk is best. Try to avoid introducing a new dog in your house or garden, where your old dog may get territorial. Allow the dogs to sniff and play together and try not to intervene. If they want to ignore each other completely, don’t force it! You can step in if they get aggressive – distract them with a favourite toy or tasty treat rather than punishing them.
If the first meeting goes well, you can bring your new pal home! Try to take a few days off work if you can so that you can keep a careful eye on things. Leaving two newly introduced dogs alone together can be risky! Try to associate the new dog with good things in your old dog’s eyes – lots of belly rubs, play, and treats!
Watch out for situations that could cause tension, like going for the same toy, and read up on doggy body language so you’re prepared. Also consider age and personality differences. Don’t allow a rambunctious puppy to bother your grumpy old pooch for too long!
Fortunately, introducing a new dog usually goes well! Most dogs are very social and love to make new friends. Still, it’s one thing to play with other dogs in the park and another to have one in their personal space, so it’s good to be cautious all the same.
How To Introduce Your New Cat To Your Dog (Or Vice Versa)
This is where it can begin to get tricky. Cats are generally much more territorial than dogs, and while they’re not strictly solitary animals – even in the wild! – they are generally less keen to make friends with newcomers. You might imagine that the last thing your lazy housecat wants is a overexcited puppy trying to lick their face and chase them round the house, but they can become surprisingly good friends if introduced properly!
No matter who is coming into the home, make sure your cat has a completely dog-free safe zone with all their belongings. That includes a litter tray, even if your cat usually goes outside. Make sure they always have access to escape to it if they’re feeling stressed. Once your cat is settled in their safe zone, start ‘scent-swapping’ – introducing each pet’s smells to the other. You can do this by stroking them one after the other without washing your hands, and swapping their toys and blankets. It’s a good idea to let them sniff each other through the door or pet gate too, if there are no signs of aggression.
When you feel ready to introduce them face-to-face, keep your dog on a – loose – lead. This will help you keep control of the situation. Even if all your dog wants to do is play, that can be scary for a cat at first! This is extra-crucial in the case of breeds with high prey drives, like huskies. A frightened cat can trigger their instinct to chase – or worse. Remember that there’s often a significant size difference between cats and dogs, making cats much more vulnerable. This is especially so with kittens! Try letting your dog and kitten hang out with kitty in a large crate for a while, until you’re certain it’s safe.
Even if your cat and dog become best friends, it’s always good to have an area for your cat that your dog can’t get to. Your cat won’t appreciate Fido having a munch of their crunchies, or worse, literally sticking his nose in their business.
How To Introduce Your New Cat To Your Other Cats
Ooh boy. This can be either the start of a beautiful friendship, or lifelong enemies. (Or, possibly, a lifetime of begrudgingly tolerating each other’s company, but that sounded less dramatic.) Rushing the first meeting is an especially bad idea for cats. Take it slowly, keep the pressure off, and be prepared to roll things backwards at signs of aggression.
Set up a separate room for the new cat with everything they’ll need. Include food and water bowls, bedding, toys, and of course, a litter tray. Remember when you do eventually give both cats full run of the house, you’ll need one litter tray per cat and one extra to prevent litterbox guarding and aggression.
Allow your new cat to explore the room and settle down in their own time. If they want to hide in their carry case for a while, that’s ok! Never force a cat to interact before they’re ready. Use scent-swapping to introduce your cats while keeping them completely separated. They’ll probably sniff at each other through the door, too, and expect some hissing if they do – it’s normal.
After a day or two, allow the cats to see each other through a screen or pet gate. You can also wedge open the door a couple of inches to allow them to see each other through the gap. Encourage them to spend some time together at the door with treats and toys. Some hissing is normal, but anything more than that or a quick swat means you should try again another day.
Did all go well? Great! Time to try letting them into the same room, ideally a mutual area rather than the new cat’s room. Never force your cats to interact or be in each other’s space – simply let them take the time to get to know each other. Be ready to break up fights with a sharp, sudden noise like clapping your hands.
Congratulations – now your cats are firm fur-iends! Or acquaintances. Or, you need to go back to the start. One of the three!