Introducing a New Pet to your Pack

Bringing home a new addition can be the most exciting time for both you and your other furry housemates.  When adding a new cat or dog to an already fur-filled house, though, both mental and material preparations should be made.  In case you are clueless what that means, don’t worry, we’ve laid out some pointers to guide you through the process:

 Setting the Stage for Success:

Just like with bringing home any pet, don’t bring home your new bundle of joy until you have all the equipment necessary to make them feel at home with your other furry friends.  While these items differ whether you are bringing home a cat or a dog, some things remain the same: be sure to get a comfortable bed, a crate, a baby gate, and interactive toys. These items, while making sure your cat or dog remains engaged and safe, will also smooth out your new additions introduction to your other furry family members.

Cats will need plenty of safe spaces throughout the house to climb to, separate from current cats in the house and out of reach of other dogs.  Cat trees or well-placed perches, preferably in a quiet corner and higher up, will give them the peace of mind that a safe place is nearby. If other cats are also in the house, be sure to purchase their own litter box to prevent marking issues and territory disputes.  

Both resident dogs and newly added dogs will also benefit from having their very own safe space, either with a crate or by setting aside a secluded doggy bed of their very own.  Interactive toys, such as Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or squeaky toys with differing textures, are excellent for relieving stress and preventing boredom. Training your resident dog certain commands, such as ‘leave it’, ‘mat’, and ‘crate’, will go a long way towards conflict resolution, as well.

While you won’t need to run out and get everything right away, having these items in place before bringing home your new cat or dog will make their transition easier.  Don’t forget to mentally prepare your pets as well, either by inviting other dogs over for an in-house playdate or by bringing home blankets that smell like other cats for your pets to sniff.  

The First Introduction:

Whether you have a tribe of multiple pets at home or just one furry friend waiting for their new furry sibling, the first introduction takes a lot of maneuvering.  Most behaviorists recommend both the new cat or dog and the resident pet to have a safe space in the house to retreat to. For the first week, the new cat or dog should be secluded in a room or quiet place, with contact allowed through a baby gate or door with the other residents.  This is to allow each pet time to get used to the smell of another pet and a new territory. Feel free to place blankets from one room into the other to allow all the residents to smell each other out before making first contact.

After the introduction week is over, feel free to leave the door open with a baby gate or other obstacle blocking access to their special rooms.  This is particularly important for when introducing cats, who may be chased by their enthusiastic housemates and will need a safe space to retreat to.  Never let the pets mingle without supervision, to stop fights from escalating, and make sure to keep their safe spaces safe.

Setting the Tone for the Household:

How you interact with your new additions and your pets will set the tone for their interactions as well.  Group play can be an amazing team spirit builder, and even works for groups of mixed cats and dogs. Try to get both cat and dog playing in the same room, including plenty of treats for peaceful play, to associate positive feelings with each other’s presence.  If at any point they start to become hostile or over stimulated, separate them into their safe spaces until tempers have cooled.

Besides playing together, encourage them to coexist in the same space by creating their special spaces in family rooms.  Try to have a particular bed just for each pet in the living room or kitchen so your pets always feel they have territory in a family setting.  Whether introducing another dog to your dog, cat to your cat, or you are creating a mixed space, the best way to create a peaceful house is to allow them to be in the same room without drawing attention to it.  As a family leader, you should set standards so that all pets are held to the same behavior standards.

While some steps may need to be added depending on the pet you are bringing home, these are the basics recommended by professionals when bringing home baby.  Do you have a new addition coming home soon? What are you looking forward to the most and which part are you worried about when introducing them to your pack at home?  Let us know in the comments!

By Lauren Pescarus



Blog author Lauren Pescarus is an admitted Cat Person who admires all pets from afar. She lives at home in Romania with her husband, and loves to buy things for the pets she will soon convince her lucky spouse to bring home. For more information about Lauren’s writing services, follow this LINK

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