Sometimes the most daunting thing about getting a new kitten or puppy is introducing them to your current pets at home. But it doesn't need to be! When completed correctly there is no reason why this can't be a fun, exciting and enjoyable phase for everyone. With these few simple steps, this is exactly how it should be.
To begin, it needs to be a slow introduction, if rushed this can cause a negative experience and can end with one or both of the pets becoming frightened of each other. This is the result we are absolutely trying to avoid, from here can become a very long road and slow process back to a positive relationship.
The biggest key point that I want to emphasise is that you should never just come home and let them interact without supervision at the first introduction, even if it is introducing a cat to a cat and a dog to a dog.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts when introducing pets:
- Never introduce around food
- Give equal attention to both, or slightly more to your current pet
- Your current pet should always receive attention first from you and should be fed first. This will help to keep the pecking order in place.
- Dogs should be on a lead and cats should be separated by a glass door or in separate cages for their first introduction.
- Where you can, for the first introduction, do it on neutral ground. Either out of the yard or away from bedding.
INTRODUCING ONE DOG TO ANOTHER
Whether your dog is excitable, nervous or shy… you should ensure he is wearing a strong collar and put him on a lead, along with your new dog. This will give you as much control as possible over the situation if the introduction does not go as planned.
Let them sniff each other and get to know each other first, and yes… they will want to sniff each other's butts!
Ideally, their tails will be wagging and they will start trying to play with each other. If this happens, let them play whilst you still have hold of the lead for about 10-15 minutes. If it is all still going well then you can let go of the leads, but keep them attached to each dog, just in case you need to take control of the situation again in a hurry.
If you have a dog that becomes anxious when on a lead, your best option is to let them first meet through a fence or something similar on neutral ground if possible.
Do not leave them unsupervised while they are still getting used to each other.
If they are not interested in playing initially, simply separate them and try again later, but keep them in close proximity to each other. You must always ensure that you do not give your new dog more freedom than your old dog, in the beginning, your first dog should always take priority while the relationship is being established.
Here is a short video that is a great demonstration on how to interact effectively.
If it feels like you are not getting anywhere and they are not responding to each other as you had hoped, don't worry. Some dogs (just like humans) simply need more time… don’t rush things and keep trying. Always stay calm, as dogs can sense nervousness and anxiety from us and fuel their own uneasiness.
INTRODUCING ONE CAT TO ANOTHER
This needs to be carried out slower than when introducing one dog to another. To begin with, it is important to note that you should not let your new cat outside and not attached to a harness for at least 7 days. Cats have a tendency to wander and become lost, or try and find their way back to their old home.
It is best to leave your old cat have run of the house and keep your new cat in a separate room for a day or two. I can guarantee you that your old cat will know that he/she is in there even if they have not actually seen each other yet. This allows them to get used to each other's smells and having another presence around the house. Just make sure it is equipped with fresh food, water and kitty litter. It is important that your new whiskery friend feels safe and comfortable in his new home.
The next step is to introduce them with a glass door between them, so they can see each other but not actually touch.
If this is not an option, you can place both cats in separate crates and face them towards each other and let them look at each other for a while. If your cat has never been in a crate or does not do well in one, then just put your new cat in one and allow your old cat to wander freely around the cage. This will have the same effect.
Separate cages are a way to safely interact them while preventing any injury if they do not initially become bff's.
Keep doing this over a few days, and if it is all going well, you can let them free in the house together under supervision.
It is vital to introduce them slowly, as moving too fast may cause them to have a negative experience and taint their relaionship long term.
Remember… cats hate change, and a new cat in the household is about the biggest change any cat can get!
Any feedback or questions that you would like to share, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.
Founder & Veterinary Nurse