When it's time to grow your family, there are a lot of considerations you need to account for. One of these is introducing your existing dog to your newest addition. In today's article, we're going to take a look at various strategies that you should be employing to ensure your newest family member gets accepted with love from your existing family members.
Just Because It Was Easy In The Past Doesn't Mean It Will Be Now
One surefire mistake that dog owners make is assuming that because their pet has lived with others in the past everything will be fine. The truth is that every animal is an individual. Some may get along fine while others may not. It's similar to humans where there are just some people you like and some you don't. So, be sure to treat your new puppy or kitten as a whole new relationship with your existing dog.
Have A Designated Area Picked Out For Your New Pet
Your dog is likely territorial when it comes to their toys, bed, and so forth. Bringing in a new pet that takes over some of that territory can be detrimental to their relationship. Instead, you should prepare similar spaces for your new pet.
If it's another dog, then get the pup their own bed, bowls, and so forth. If it's a new kitten, get a litter box and feeding area set up prior to bringing them home. This way, there is an area that is established for your new pet and you can start training them from day one which items are theirs and which ones are your existing dog's items.
Try Separate Scent Swaps First
One very helpful tip for getting dogs to get used to new pets is to introduce them to the new pet's scent first. This can be as simple as bringing in a blanket that has the pet's scent on it and laying it on your dog's bed. You may even consider bringing in your new pet for a few hours to explore your home without your dog present. Then, once your dog is back home, they'll be able to pick up on the scent of the new pet before they officially arrive. The concept behind scent swaps is that it familiarizes each animal with the other's scent prior to the meeting for the first time.
Put Away Your Old Dog's Toys And Treats
One surefire way for an old dog to get extremely territorial is having a new pup or kitten take one of their toys. This problem can be easily avoided by simply putting away your old dog's toys and treats when you plan on doing the official introduction between the two. This will help to minimize any hostility over toys and treats to start out with.
If you still want to have your dog's toys available for them to express their excitement with, then consider only leaving a couple out. Make sure you also bring some new toys for your new furry friend so they both can have their own to play with. This will go a long way in avoiding unnecessary fighting when first introductions occur.
Introduce With Limits
When you're ready to bring your new pet home, you want to stage their introduction carefully. You'll want to keep your dog on a lease. If you have a puppy, they should be on a leash or in a crate. Your kitten should be in a crate. Simply leave the two in the same area together in their respective places until they're able to calmly be in the same area together. This may take 20 minutes or 1 hour. By having both animals in their respective places, you can help to get all the introductory barking, whining, and meeting out of the way before they actually meet face to face.
Opt For Meeting On Neutral Ground
It's no surprise to any dog owner that their dog is very territorial of their home. This can create unnecessary tension when you bring your new pet home. To avoid this tension, it's best to consider letting your pets meet on neutral territory. The local park, a friend's lawn, or even a dog training centre. Whatever place you choose, just make sure that it's one where neither dog will have territorial concerns.
Your Reaction Sets The Tone
It may surprise you, but your dog will look to you to see how they should react to the new situation. When you're tense, your dog perceives the meeting as dangerous. When you're calm and collective, your dog will follow. You'll need to keep up this calm attitude for the first few weeks of your new pet being in your home. This way, this pattern of calmness becomes the new norm for your pet.
Never Hold Either Pet During The Meeting
Puppies and kittens are cute and hard to put down. However, you need to when you make your initial introduction with your dog. By holding your new pet, they can feel restrained and vulnerable during the initial meeting. This can create hostility and tension right off of the bat. Instead, let your new pet down on the ground. This way, they can meet your dog on even footing.
Take A Walk Together
If you're introducing a new puppy into your home, then it's best to consider taking them both for a walk. If you plan your initial introduction at the local park, this can be as simple as taking a walk on the trail. The theory behind this is that both dog's focus can be diverted to the walking instead of just solely on the other dog. This allows each dog to see each other but knock some of that initial tension off of the table as they expel energy walking.
Meet In Your Yard
One of your new pet has met your dog in a neutral area, it's time to introduce them a second time in your yard. Since they have already have met each other in the past, this should go fairly smoothly. However, remember that they're both now in your dog's territory so tension may arise. It's best to call each dog away from one another every few minutes to keep the tension level low.
The Final In-Home Meeting
Without your other dog seeing you, it's time to bring your new pet into the home. You should have them inside the home and let your existing dog enter the home to find them. This will help to alleviate some of the tension your new pet feels inside of your home. This will also work to show your dog that the new pet is meant to be inside of your home instead of just straying in out of the blue.
Don't Force It
Sometimes your dog and your new pet may just not get along at first. It's best to not try and force them into playing with each other from the start. If they decide to go back to their bed or crate to escape the other one, that's fine. Just let the bonding happen naturally over time. Forcing it will only make the introductory period last much longer than it needs to.
Curb Bullying From The Start
It's important that both of your pets feel comfortable at home. For this reason, you want to stop any bullying that may occur from the very beginning. This could be your dog simply walking over or pushing the new puppy over. When this happens, correct your dog so they know that it's not acceptable behaviour. Letting bullying happen from the start can make your new pet feel inferior and not fully comfortable in your home environment.
Use A Barrier When You're Not Home
The first few weeks after the introduction of your new pet is the most crucial. When you're unable to monitor the two, you need to use a barrier to keep them separated. This barrier could be upstairs and downstairs. It could be keeping them in different rooms. It could even be keeping them in separate crates. The type of barrier you use will depend on the setup of your home environment and the resources you have available to you.
Monitor Behaviours Often
It's very important that you keep a watchful eye on your pets for the first few weeks they're together. You can get a real feel for how they're getting along by simply monitoring their behaviour towards one another. Some behaviour that you should be watching out for include:
These behaviours show aggression. If you see your dog doing any of these, it may be time to separate the two for a while until your dog calms down. You should never leave the two together if you notice this type of behaviour as it could result in harm to one of your pets.
On the other hand, there are good indicators that will tell you when your dog is getting along with your new pet. Some of the most common include:
The above are common indicators of submission showing that they're comfortable with the presence of the other pet. It's important to note that it may take a couple of weeks before you get to see this type of positive behaviour. Just stick with it and time will run its course.
It's important to note that the times where excitement runs high you'll most likely deal with tension issues between your pets. Some examples include feeding time, a family member returning home, walks, playtime, and when visitors arrive. Pay close attention to the behaviour of both of your pets at these times of excitement to ensure there's no hostility or harm present.
Schedule Quality Time For Each
You should plan out some scheduled time where each pet gets to be with you on their own. This could be as simple as taking your dog for a walk once a week without bringing your other pup. It's important to have this necessary alone time between you and each pet so that they still feel as if they're special. It's kind of like having alone time with your partner away from the kids every now and then. It helps to freshen your relationship and keep everyone feeling wanted.
Always Keep Feeding Areas Separate
If your dogs seem to be getting along pretty well, you may consider just feeding them out of the same bowl or area. This isn't recommended. You should maintain separate feeding areas for each of your pets. This could be as simple as putting one bowl on either side of the kitchen so that each pup has to go to their own corner to eat. This just helps to establish individuality and ensures both dogs are eating healthy.
Do Training Separately
Your new pup will likely need some training to ensure they follow the rules in your home. It's never a good idea to have the other dog present during the training for the simple fact that there are treats involved. Ask your partner to take your dog for a walk while you work with your new puppy. Or, simply put your dog outside while you train your puppy, so they don't see the constant treat exchange. This helps to keep everything feeling even between your two pets.
We all love pets and having multiple is just like icing on a cake. However, it takes some time and strategic planning to ensure that your pets get along with one another for the long-term. The above are some helpful tips that you should be following pre-, during, and post-introduction to ensure that you have a happy home after your new pet arrives.
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