Thinking of adding another furry friend to your family? Introducing new pets can be tricky, but there are some ways you can help the process run smoothly! Whether you are introducing a cat and dog, or a senior pet and a little one, there are ways to help make the transition easier. Check out our tips to help you introduce your new furry friend to your other pets:
Introducing a Puppy to an Older Dog
It is natural for your older or senior dog to be apprehensive of a new dog "invading" their territory. The best way to establish a pack mentality is to have the first meeting occur in a neutral area, like a park. Walking the two dogs together can help them understand that they are a team. It is important that you choose a location that your current dog does not feel is their territory. So that could mean taking them for a walk in a different neighborhood or going to a park they have never visited before. Let the dogs smell each other and make their own introductions. Don't bring any toys that your dog already plays with, because they may feel protective over it.
After the initial meeting, bring the dogs to the house and put the new dog in their crate. Let your current dog roam around and do whatever they normally do while the puppy observes. After some time, you can take the puppy out and let them explore the space. This will help your dog feel that they are in control, and it can give them the opportunity to model proper behavior for your new dog.
If either dog exhibits some behavioral red flags, like biting, snarling, growling, or if they are being territorial, consult with our team or a professional trainer. Don't leave the dogs alone together for some time until they seem to be totally comfortable. Your older dog may become irritable after sharing their space for a few hours, so just keep an eye on them and separate them if you feel they need the space. This is also a good opportunity for your puppy to get to know their crate and feel comfortable in a space specifically made for them.
Introducing a Cat and a Dog
Cats and dogs have very different behavioral protocols, so the best thing to do is to let your cat dictate how the interaction is going to go. Dogs will be more likely to want to smell the cat and get in their personal space, which could trigger a negative reaction in the cat. Instead, keep your dog on a leash and reward them for calm behavior. Find a really high-value treat, like chicken or peanut butter, and be generous with praise. Don't excite them, even if it seems positive. It is possible that interactions will differ based on the environment. Dogs may interact positively indoors, but they may stalk the cat outdoors, similar to if it were a rabbit or squirrel. Every animal is different, so just try to keep an eye on how the animals interact with each other.
The goal for introducing a cat and dog is that they will be generally uninterested in each other. If you can't trust that the animals can be left alone together, keep them separated. It is very possible that they could both injure each other, so don't assume that they will be on their best behavior. While we love to consider our furry friends to be angels, these types of pets have very different boundaries. Don't assume that the interaction will be positive or negative, just be prepared to reward good behavior or separate after negative interactions. With positive reinforcement, you can help your pets become the best of friends!
Every pet is unique, so talk to our team to learn more about how you can safely introduce your new pets. We can direct you to some helpful local resources to set your pets up for success. Call our office for more info about introducing your pets.