Tips for Introducing a New Pet Into the Home
Introducing a new pet into the home may end up being very easy, or it may be a delicate process that takes some time. How quickly your pets adjust to one another depends on their personalities. Some pets end up being the best of friends; others merely tolerate each other. The goal is to make sure they can live harmoniously and happily together, even if they don't become best friends. Here are a few tips for making introductions.
- Allow your new pet to familiarize itself with its new home. Temporarily confine existing pets to a room to give your new pet a chance to feel more comfortable with its surroundings.
- Introduce your pets indoors in controlled situations. Keep dogs on a leash and immediately put a stop to any aggressive behaviour. If you are introducing a cat to a dog, do not allow the dog to chase or corner the cat - even if it's out of playfulness or curiosity.
- Give them time - don't force them together. Some pets are naturally more timid or unsure around other animals. Let pets adjust at their own pace. Pushing pets together before they're ready can make it a negative experience, which will take longer to overcome. If all they want to do is sniff each other through a gate at first, then let them be. Give them time to gain confidence and decide when to face his or her new housemates.
- Praise, praise, praise - and give lots of rewards. Every time your new and old pet do something good with each other - even if it's something as simple as a bit of a wiggle or a wag - praise and reward. The idea is to associate each other with good things.
- When introducing a cat to a dog, do NOT hold the cat in your arms. A frightened or nervous cat may scratch. Put the dog in a kennel or behind a secure gate and allow the cat to approach the dog.
- Give your pets separate food and water bowls, in separate spaces. If you are introducing cats, also provide separate litter boxes. Feed your new and existing pets in different locations to prevent any conflict over food.
- Be especially careful when introducing dogs or cats to caged animals. Dogs and cats can live in harmony with rabbies, guinea pigs, birds, etc... but should be introduced under strictly controlled supervision. Remember that cats are very agile, so placing a cage high up on a shelf doesn't necessarily protect the caged pet. Don't take any chances - one mistake could be fatal to your caged pet.
- Always supervise your pets until you are absolutely sure they get along. Until then, separate your pets by confining at least one of them to its own room. Only allow them to interact with each other with your supervision.
Introducing a new pet into the home may take hours, days, weeks, or even months for your pets to completely adjust to one another. Patience and a positive attitude will help your new pet become a fully integrated member of the family as fast and as easily as possible!
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