Introducing a new pet to a household is a big decision and it’s important to consider how it will affect your current pets. Often a new pet could be a negative rather than a positive change for your current pet. You might think a new puppy will brighten your elderly dog, but it’s possible the puppy could wear your older dog out and actually cause more upset.
If you do decide to get a new cat or dog, it’s important for both your existing animal and your new pet that you take time to help them both cope with the introduction.
Give Them Zylkene calming supplements - ensure you’ve started administration early enough i.e. before you bring the new pet home. This applies to both pets, perhaps ask the current keeper of your new pet if they’d mind starting any administration a few days before you’re due to pick them up. Environment - before you start, make sure all cats have adequate resources and each dog has their own safe haven in the form of a den.
- Initial Separation - keep your new pet and current pets in separate but adjoining rooms. Your new pet should be confined to one room and your current pet to the rest of the house.
- Feeding - feed both pets either side of a door so they associate the positive experience of food with the new smells of each other. If both pets are dogs, don’t put the bowls too close initially but gradually move them closer over a few days until they eat calmly together either side of the door. Don’t move cat bowls too close together as they can become territorial.
The next stage is to prop the door open meaning the pets can see each other but not gain access to the other room.
- Swap Smells - switch your pets’ blankets or toys to help them become accustomed to each other’s smell. With dogs, rub a cloth on one dog and place it under the feed bowl of the other. For cats, rub the face of one cat with a soft cloth and then rub the scent onto the other cat. Don’t put the scent near food in the case of cats as this can cause territorial issues. Remember to do this for both animals to ensure they’re both exposed to the other’s scent.
- Swap Rooms - put your current pet in the room where your new pet has been living and let the new pet roam the rest of the house. This provides more opportunity to become familiar with each other’s smells and for the new pet to explore their new surroundings freely.
- Stop Negative Interactions - when you start to introduce your pets, do it very slowly and gradually, almost so they don’t notice. Don’t let any fearful or aggressive behaviours become too intense. If this happens, separate them and return to the steps above.
- Positive Reinforcement - if your current pet is a dog, ensure they know basic commands. You can then distract them from the new pet, as well as provide positive reinforcement in the newcomer’s presence, associating them as good. Don’t punish either pet.
It might be a good idea to keep any dogs on a lead initially, and make sure cats always have a clear escape route to another part of the house. Don’t leave the new pets alone together until you are completely happy they are settled.