Many people are excited by the prospect of introducing a new pet into their homes. In the midst of such excitement, it can be easy to overlook the potential feelings existing pets may have about sharing their homes with new animals.
Unfortunately, pets don’t get to know one another with a handshake and a “hello.” In addition, pet owners cannot force companion animals to like one another. What they can do is make the introduction process as positive as possible. According to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, 42 percent of American households are multiple-pet families, so peaceful cohabitation is possible. Whether the introduction involves animals of the same species or a hopeful friendship between cat and dog, follow these tips to increase the chances for a successful first meeting.
Employ sense of smell. Some dogs and cats will “posture” if they make eye contact with a new animal, according to PetMD. Submissive or dominant responses can cause stress to the animals and may create a negative first meeting. Sometimes it’s best if pets meet through scent instead of sight. Separate the pets in different rooms or cages, allowing them to grow accustomed to the smell of the other animal before actually meeting it. Exchange blankets with each pets’ scent between the cages.
Contain and release. Let the new pet have roam of the house for a little while before containing it to a room or cage. This allows the animal to start leaving its scent around the house. Follow the same technique with the other pet. Eventually the animals will grow a deeper bond through scent articles and grow accustomed to the sounds and smells of each other.
Introduce dogs or cats on neutral territory. Existing pets may feel the need to defend their territory or protect their owners if they meet a new animal inside of the house. When the time comes for a face-to-face meeting, introduce the two animals outside of the home in a neutral area, such as in a neighbor’s yard or in a park, offers The Humane Society of America. Reward positive behavior during this initial encounter with treats.
Have new toys and items available. Dogs and cats can both be territorial. Even if they accept the new animal, they may not want to share their toys, food bowls or other baubles. Make sure there are items for both of the pets so there will be no bickering or actual fights.
The introduction process is not something pet owners should rush. Such a process can take a few days, weeks or even longer. Pet owners who remain patient and encouraging may find that their pets ultimately learn to live together peacefully.