Introducing a New Pet Into the Household
INTRODUCE BEFORE ADOPTION
If you are adopting a dog from a humane society or pet rescue organization, ask if they will permit you to bring your own dog in for an introduction. They will be able to assist and advise on whether they believe the dogs would be suitable housemates.
SEPARATE AND SUPERVISE
Always supervise your pets until you are confident that they get along. Until then, separate your pets by confining at least one of them to its own room while you are away. Allow them to interact with each other with your supervision. Some pets will adjust to each other in mere hours, while others may take weeks or even months.
SLOW, CONTROLLED INTRODUCTIONS
Introduce your pets indoors in controlled situations. If you are introducing a cat to a dog, do not allow the dog to chase or corner the cat, even if it’s out of playfulness or curiosity.
When introducing a cat, do not hold the cat in your arms. A frightened or nervous cat may scratch or bite in its anxiety to get free.
Make use of a kennel to allow for slow and safe introductions. For instance, place a pet inside the kennel and allow both the new and existing pets to see and sniff one another in their own time. Don’t have a kennel? Use a pet or baby gate instead, or place one pet in a room and allow them to sniff each other from underneath the door.
GIVE THE NEW PET TIME TO SETTLE IN
Allow your new pet to familiarize itself with its new home. Temporarily confine existing pets to a room to give your new pet a chance to feel more comfortable with its surroundings.
SET THE TONE
Be calm, confident, and encouraging. Animals can sense anxiety. Be positive and steady to help your pets adjust more quickly.
Give your pets separate food and water bowls and feed them in different areas to help prevent any scuffles. When introducing cats, also provide separate litter boxes.
BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS WITH CAGED PETS
Dogs and cats can live in harmony with rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, etc… but introduce them under strictly controlled supervision. Keep in mind that cats are very agile, so placing a cage high up on a shelf doesn’t necessarily protect the caged pet. Don’t take any chances – one mistake could be fatal to your caged pet.
GIVE THEM TIME
Don’t try to force your pets together; allow them to adjust at their own pace. Give all your pets time to gain confidence and decide when to face his or her new housemates.
CONTINUE TO GIVE ATTENTION
Make sure to provide all of your pets with plenty of love and attention. In particular, keep giving your old pets with the same amount (or more!) of attention they’ve always enjoyed from you.