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. 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. Introducing your dog or cat to their new family members in the right way is crucial for building positive relationships and safety for all. Properly socializing your dog or cat to other pets means giving them the skills they need to successfully live together and encourage positive associations.
1. 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.
Provide separate safe areas for your dog and cat. When you first bring your new cat home, make sure they have somewhere to go that the dog isn’t allowed. Keep them separate outside of the times you can provide supervised interaction.
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.
2. Manage age differences. If you’re introducing a new pet to other pets, make sure your older pet isn’t overwhelmed with energy of the younger pets. Older pets don’t always appreciate being jumped on by others, and your new pets needs to learn how to be polite.
3. 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.
4. Treat calm behavior. Reward calm behavior. Give a treat any time your pets look at your new pets and stay calm. If they become too focused or excited, add some distance or try again later.