Introducing A New Pet To Your Pet Household
The joys of pet ownership are bountiful and endless. Between cute kitten “biscuits” and evening walks with man’s best friend, many homeowners don’t feel their family is complete until bringing a pet into the home. In fact, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of American households own at least one pet. At roughly 69 million families with a dog and 45 million families with a cat, it goes without saying that we love our fur kids—and if one pet makes for a happy house, than 2 or more must be even better, right?
Although a household with multiple pets can be a great experience, it isn’t as easy as simply bringing another animal into your existing pet household and hoping for the best. This transition requires careful planning and patience because your existing pets need a chance to get comfortable with their new sibling and your new pet needs time to get acclimated to their new space. Here are a few tips on introducing a new pet to your existing pet household.
Spare Enough Time
Friendships aren’t going to happen overnight. Plus, your new pet is going to take some time to get used to their new surroundings so it’s always a good idea to ensure you have plenty of time to dedicate to the introduction phase. If possible, take a few days off work or try to schedule the introduction around a weekend when everyone is home and can help control the situation. If possible, also plan to stick to a regular routine which can help everyone get adjusted more quickly.
Prepare Your Home
Make sure you already have everything purchased and set up for your new pet (ensuring it doesn’t detract or take away from your existing pet)! This means new food and water bowls, their own bedding/crate, and new toys. You never want to set up a situation where your new and existing pets feel like they need to compete for a safe space or resources, or you are just setting yourself up for disaster. It’s also a good idea to designate separate areas of the house by using doors and gates as necessary, at least at first.
Introduce Pets Slowly
Once your new pet is comfortable in their new home, it’s finally time to introduce everyone! This is a delicate step so be prepared to take it slow. If possible, find a neutral area without any food, toys, or anything that could make a pet feel territorial. Alternate placing your pets in that space one at a time so they can get used to each other’s scent—especially allowing your current pets to become familiar with the new animal. If introducing dogs, try finding a neutral spot outdoors, specifically out of your own yard. If you need to introduce the pets indoors, a room where neither pet typically hangs out is a great start.
Although each situation is different, remember that your new pet is going to still be timid while your existing pet is used to the home. If possible, try to remove your current pets from the house while you let your new pet explore. Then, place your new pet back in their secure area while letting your existing pets back in to sniff around.
When it's finally time to meet face to face, give each animal plenty of time to feel comfortable with the other, coming together on their own. If you can separate a room by a gate or a door so your pets can see and smell each other before actually coming in contact, this is a great way to ease everyone in. Always praise good behavior and distract from any aggression as necessary. Try short interactions at first and letting your pets have time to recharge and calm down. Even if they seem to be getting along, it’s best to keep an eye on all pets the first couple weeks and keep them separated when you aren't around. The connection may take a while, but the effort will be worth it in the long run when you have a house full of happy animals who can interact without supervision.
Consider Age, Breed & Personality
Keep in mind that like humans, all animals have their own personality and sometimes we get shy, timid, anxious, or even angry meeting new people, especially if there are clashing personalities. If you have an older, low-energy dog, for example, and bring a new puppy into the house, the puppy will likely harass the older dog as they naturally like to nip, bite, and play non-stop. Puppies also require a lot of your attention and even if you are sure to give your older dog some love, this attention shift could cause your existing pet to feel jealous. This situation will likely cause a high-stress environment for your new pup, your older dog, and all of the humans in your household.
On the other hand, if you have an older dog and decide to adopt an adolescent dog of the same breed, your older dog could enjoy having a companion so much that some of their younger, playful behavior just might come to light again. Bringing a new family member into the house is all about meshing personalities and considering how both the age and breed of a new pet could influence your existing pets.
The same thing goes for cats! Although cute, kittens can be totally disruptive to both older cats and dogs in the house, especially if your existing pet is not used to having anyone else in the house. Make sure each pet has an escape route in case a scuffle does break out—that can mean towers, shelving or other furniture that is off the ground or crates, dog houses, closets, etc.
Find The Perfect Home
Do you already have a house full of happy furkids but are looking for the perfect place to call home? Coldwell Banker Seaside Realty is here to help! Let us guide you in the homebuying process… with both your needs and your pets’ needs in mind.