Welcoming home a new pet is an exciting time, but you can easily be overwhelmed with trying to acclimate a new cat or dog to your household. With the help of the following 10 rules, you can help ensure a smooth transition as you introduce a new pet into your family.
#1: Consider your current pet’s personality
Does your current pet love any and all living creatures, or are they more stand-offish, preferring to spend time on their own? Not all pets want another furry sibling, and would much rather live in a single-pet household. Consider your current pet’s socialization skills and attitude when they’re introduced to new pets to decide if another pet would be the right choice.
#2: Decide as a family on your new pet
If your family can hardly agree on a choice of restaurant, ensure everyone is on board with a new pet. Your daughter may have fallen in love with a kitten, while your son wants a rough-and-tumble big dog. You would love the ease of a fish, while your partner is adamant one pet is enough. Before rushing off to bring home a new pet, hold a family meeting to discuss the pros and cons of each species, and to decide who will perform the care tasks necessary to keep your pet healthy.
#3: Avoid choosing a new pet based on emotion
Although it’s incredibly difficult to pass up a sad story, think carefully when choosing your new pet. Avoid picking the first pet who needs a loving home, as they may not be the best fit for your family.
#4: Let your new pet decompress alone when they arrive home
Arriving at a strange place is stressful, especially when you don’t speak the same language as your new family. Give your pet time to decompress in a room alone, rather than inviting over the entire extended family to meet them. Once your pet has settled in and checked out their surroundings—sans your current pet—sit in their living quarters, and let them become accustomed to your presence, voice, and scent.
#5: Give your current pet the same amount of attention and care
Your current pet may have trouble adapting to having a new household pet, so continue to shower them with the same amount of attention and care. Avoid upsetting their routine, as all pets thrive on a consistent schedule, and maintaining the same routine will help keep your pet calm and relaxed.
#6: Establish a routine for your new pet on the first day
Establishing set times for meals, play, exercise, and sleep will help your new pet settle in and adapt to your lifestyle. A routine will provide them with some measure of control, and help dispel uneasy feelings about not knowing what to expect.
#7: Swap your pets’ bedding to “introduce” them without physical contact
A pet’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours, and they can detect species-specific pheromones that can tell them a great deal about another animal. Swap out a piece of bedding or a toy for each pet to allow them to sniff out their new housemate. Once your pets are acting calmly around the opposite item—no raised fur, no growling—you can proceed to a visual introduction.
#8: Place a barricade between cats so they can see each other but be safe
Introducing cats or small dogs through a baby gate is a great way to allow them to sniff and see each other, while still keeping them safe. This allows a pet to retreat further into the room to view the other from a safe distance, or approach if they feel comfortable. Make this association positive, and prevent barrier frustration and aggression, by feeding each pet separately on opposite sides. The treats will help distract your pets and create a positive feeling when they view each other.
#9: Walk your dog in neutral territory
If you have a dog, introduce your new dog in neutral territory, rather than walking them through the front door. Start by walking parallel to each other at a distance that prevents either dog from becoming overly excited. As the dogs settle in, shorten the distance between them. Occasionally, stop and perform brief training sessions that ensure the new dog focuses on you and the treats, rather than the other dog. By going slowly, you’ll be able to walk both dogs next to each other and allow a nose-to-tail greeting with minimal stress and excitement.
#10: Take each step slowly when introducing your pets
Remember—adjusting to a new home and family can take days or weeks, so move slowly with your new pet, and allow them plenty of time to settle in. Avoid rushing introductions before either pet is ready for a meet-and-greet, and use plenty of positive reinforcement to help ensure introductions go smoothly.
Are you considering adding a new pet to your household? Ensure your current four-legged friend is up to date on their vaccinations and regular exams to help prevent the potential spread of parasites and disease. And, our Towne Centre Animal Hospital team can’t wait to meet your new furry pal! Call us to schedule an appointment for your pets’ health care needs.