For many parents and pet owners, the holidays seem like a great time to gift a new pet into the household. While we’re all about getting your pet or kids a furry new PAL, taking on a new pet is a major responsibility that requires ample consideration and dedication. Think about your household – your current pet’s temperament, your kids’ energy level and know-how on the proper treatment of animals, even your neighborhood could be a factor (if you live on a busy corner, an indoor/outdoor cat may not be the best, or you may need to fence in your front yard for a dog).
Now that you’ve properly considered your current situation and have decided to add a pet, we have a couple tips on how best to introduce them so you can all live happily every after. Keep in mind that individual cases vary – only you know your current pal’s disposition, prey drive, and willingness to engage with other animals. Introductions between dogs and cats, cats with other cats, and dogs with other dogs also have slightly different protocols – so feel free to conduct further research on the best approach for what you’re working with.
When it comes to dogs, we highly recommend a meet and greet at the shelter prior to bringing the newbie home (your shelter or handler may even require it). On the way home, a romp around a park or other neutral territory is good for gauging their play, eliminating your current pet feeling territorial, and burns energy for a tuckered out return home. Once home, simply keeping an eye on the two and taking an active role in ‘refereeing’ will help the new dog learn the ropes and avoid any spats.
If you’re bringing a new cat home, it’s recommended to designate a room for them to decompress and get acquainted. Go ahead and put food, water, a bed and/or cat tree, and litter box in the room so they’re comfortable. Consider putting a shirt or other article of clothing in there, too, as this gets him acquainted with your scent and can later be used to get your current pet used to theirs. Be prepared for your current animal to be incredibly curious and eager to see what’s behind that door. Try your best to have a calm demeanor and not get flustered, as both animals will pick up on your energy.
The next step is up to you – some people recommend putting current pets in a room and letting the newcomer to sniff and roam, then allow a calm, monitored introduction. Some go right for the introduction, either holding the new animal or on leash in a dog-meets-cat situation; depending on the interaction, some animals may require 5-10 minutes intervals to get used to one another.
In every situation, the most important tip is to be present – keep a watchful eye on both pets and separate them when/if necessary. Don’t scold either one, as it could deter them from engaging at all, simply separating them should do. Make sure you’re giving them both ample attention, as it can calm their nerves and make them feel less ‘on edge’ about the new situation.
If you have any tips on how you successfully introduced your two PALs, feel free to post them on our Facebook page and as always, we love to see photos of your companions! Happy paw-lidays!