Wheaton_iStock_000056193784_LargeBefore adopting a new pet, prospective owners have a great deal to consider: the financial factor, whether they have enough room or time, and, most importantly, whether or not an already-resident pet will accept the presence of a new pet. While it’s great to hope for a sweet Milo and Otis kind of relationship, you may need to work at it a bit to ensure that all animals in your care remain safe, peaceful, and comfortable during the transition. Our trusty tips aim to help if you are considering introducing a new pet to your veteran cat or dog.

Getting Started

Optimistic animal lovers may easily make the mistake of assuming that cats like other cats, or that dogs like other dogs. Likewise, it’s assumed that cats and dogs are natural enemies, even though we know that’s not always the case. Each interaction between newly acquainted pets is unique; however, the basics of introduction are the same regardless of species.

When it comes to your home, it’s your first pet’s territory, and a newcomer may be in danger of experiencing aggressive behavior from the resident pet. Some shelters or rescues test and document an adoptable pet’s temperament, which can be helpful. And you will want to research the personality of your new pet’s breed (if known) to identify a mismatch in breed compatibility with your current pet.

Alternatively, the new pet may behave unpredictably and place your existing pet at risk. A new puppy or kitten may see an opportunity to play or make friends, but the signals can be misinterpreted or unwelcomed. Please watch carefully for any signs of unwanted behavior, and intervene quickly to best protect each animal.

Introducing a New Pet

Introducing a new pet to one that is already closely attached to you and his or her surroundings can be done incrementally through your pet’s senses.

  • Ease into physical interaction through a crate, gate, or leash
  • Never force the animals to interact
  • Before allowing the animals to share space, integrate each of their distinctive scents into calming or familiar environments, like the kennel or sleeping area
  • You can also rub a towel on each pet and place beneath the other’s food dish to create positive associations
  • Reward good behavior with lots of praise and foster joint interests and activities
  • If you see aggressive behavior from one and frightened cowering from the other, it’s time to separate the pets and start over after a while
  • Be Realistic

    Your current pet and his or her adversary (aka, the new pet) may not ever get along well or be best friends. As long as no one gets hurt though, your pets can learn to co-exist. Introducing a new pet should be done gradually; don’t worry if you think the process is taking too long. The important thing is that neither pet feels ambushed or overtaken.

    Also:

  • Start practicing basic commands with your resident dog if he or she doesn’t already know “sit”, “stay”, “down”, or “come”, or sign up your new puppy for training.
  • Even after a successful introduction, your new kitten or puppy should be closely supervised around your adult cat or dog until fully grown.
  • Do not punish your pets if you don’t get results immediately.
  • Be sure to offer love and one-on-one time to each pet equally.
  • Please let us know if introducing a new pet is not going well. The Pet Experts can assist you and your pet family with additional suggestions when you come in for your new pet’s puppy manners course or complimentary wellness exam. Starting on the right paw is great insurance for future happiness in your home, among all the animals lucky to be your care.