Getting to know you…and getting to know all about your other pets

Animal lovers often have more than one pet. That means that at one time or another, you’ll need to make introductions between the new pet and your other four-legged or even flying family members. Some pets will take to one another immediately. Others will become friends gradually and hesitantly. And others might never get along.

If your new pet is young or has been around other animals before, introductions are likely to go more smoothly. If you’re adopting your pet, ask how well they do around other animals. When introducing dogs and cats, being aware of some basic information beforehand can make the introductions go as pleasantly as possible—because each animal has a different basic temperament.
Hissy fits? Introducing a new cat to a cat you already own takes time and patience. Cats are very territorial, so the process may take several weeks. Initially, keep your new cat in a single room, and refresh food and litter every day. Spend as much time as possible with each of your cats to reassure them of their safety in this new situation. Gradually, allow your new cat to explore the house while your other cat is confined. After a few days, introduce them at mealtimes. Let them eat in the same room. Some hissing is to be expected. Be ready to try again in a few days if either cat becomes too upset.
Leash “laws”: Dogs meeting a new house or yard-mate should be on leashes. Adult dogs will generally accept younger dogs and puppies without much problem. Introduce your dogs on neutral territory, perhaps a few blocks from the house. This will ease territorial tension.
No fighting like, well, you know: Regardless of stereotypes, thousands of pet owners know that cats and dogs can grow to be friends. Problems are generally fewer if the animals are young. Again, dogs—especially adult dogs–should be kept on a tight leash. Also, cornered animals are rarely happy animals. So make sure your cat knows it has an avenue of escape.
With both pets and humans alike, loving and rewarding relationships take time. Be patient.

Did you recently add a new member to your “pet family”? What other methods did you find helpful? Share your personal experience with us of how you integrated your pet as comfortably as possible.

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