How to Introduce a New Pet to an Older One
Nine times out of ten, getting a new pet is exciting! Bringing them home to get settled can be tricky, however, if you have an older pet. Introductions can go well…or not so well. We’ve put together a few tips to help you as you prepare for your two pets to meet.
1. General Tips
We’ve outlined advice for specific cases for pet interactions, but first, here are some things to keep in mind for all pet introductions:
- Choose the Second Pet Wisely. If you are going to get a new pet, you must think about the one you have now. What will drive him/her crazy? Is he generally friendly or does he prefer to be left alone? What kind of pet would he tolerate if not enjoy having around? As you look for new buddies to bring home, just make sure the original buddy won’t mind.
Give the Older Pet a Break. Whether it’s the pet you just adopted or the one you’ve owned for 10 years, let the pet with less energy take a break from the more hyper one. Set up a place where the less energetic pet can be alone for a little while.
- Try Feeding the Pets in Different Areas. To prevent fights over food or pets eating the wrong food, feed your pets in separate areas. Just like puppies have different food than dogs, make sure your pets get the right amount and type of food.
- Let Them Have Their Own Stuff. At least at first, let the older pet keep its toys, bed and kennel. When the new pet comes in, go ahead and buy them their own things. This way, the old pet won’t become too territorial. As time goes on and the pets become accustomed to living with each other, sharing won’t be a problem.
- Don’t Ignore the Older Pet. While new pets can be fun and exciting, older pets can get jealous or sad if you don’t give them any attention. Remember to play and cuddle with them plenty – having a new friend in the house may be a hard adjustment for them.
2. New Dog to Senior Dog
Most of the time, dogs are friendly to one another. However, when it comes to dogs living together, things can get dicey. Here are some tips to help:
- Leave the Senior Dog at Home. When you go to pick up the new pup, don’t bring the senior one. A new puppy has to get used to a new human, so adding a new dog into the mix might be a bit overwhelming for them.
- Introduce the Dogs in Neutral Territory. Sometimes when pets are introduced in the home, the older one can become controlling or territorial. This could lead to aggression, which is not a great first meeting. Have them meet in a park or at a friend’s house.
- Don’t Force the Interaction. If the dogs aren’t super responsive to one another at their first meeting, that’s okay. The biggest thing to remember is that they will meet in their own time and on their own terms, if not right away. Just give them some space to get used to each other.
- Watch for Signs of Aggression. Read over this article on canine body language. If you see unfriendly or threatening signs from either dog, separate them to prevent a fight.
3. New Cat to Senior Cat
Cats can be unpredictable. Some can be territorial, others can be curious. Know your cats – both old and new – to figure out when and where the best place for their first meeting should be. Some helpful tips include:
- Use a Series of Short Interactions. Let the cats get to know one another a little bit at a time. Don’t control these interactions when they happen – allow them to scope things out for themselves.
- In Case of a Fight, Don’t Step In. If either cat becomes aggressive (flattened ears, growling or crouching) and begins to fight the other, do not try pulling one or both apart. You could get hurt yourself or hurt one of the cats. Instead, try to break up the fight by making loud noises, spraying water or throwing something soft, such as a pillow, at them. Once the cats are apart, remove one of them from the room.
- Swap Stuff Around. Help your cats get accustomed to one another by swapping something with an item that belongs to the other cat. Swap a toy or a climbing post. This should help them get used to the other’s scent.
4. New Dog to Senior Cat
A lot of the first interactions between a new dog and senior cat have to do with the cat. How old they are and if they like other animals could determine the mood of the first meeting. Take a look at these tips:
- Meet on the Cat’s Terms. As eager as the new dog may be to meet a new friend, the cat should be the one to initiate the first few interactions.
- Provide Safe Places for the Cat. When the pets meet, make sure it’s a place where the cat has places to run or hide from the dog. The dog may not be doing anything harmful or strange, but the cat may get spooked nonetheless.
- Keep the Dog on a Leash. In the event that your cat does run away, you should keep the dog from chasing after it by keeping them on a leash. This will help the cat feel more secure.
- Distract the Dog. Keep the dog occupied with toys, food or treats while the cat checks them out. Otherwise, the dog’s focus being solely on the cat may be stressful for the feline.
5. New Cat to Senior Dog
Dogs tend to be a lot more sociable to newcomers – especially cats or kittens. (Caution: Some dogs are not okay with cats. Understand your dog before bringing a cat or kitten home). While that is great for the dog’s side of things, the kitten may grow fearful of the dog if they meet right off the bat. The biggest way to help the kitten feel safe and comfortable is to let them get used to a room in your house. Before you bring them home, set up a room (where the dog cannot get in) with cat items, such as:
- Litter box
- Hiding places
Keep the door open, so if they want to explore, they can. It would be best to let the dog stay outside during this time.
It’s such a fun – and certainly entertaining – thing to expand your pet family! We hope this information has been a help to you as you prepare for a new member to the clan.
Do you have a tip for introducing two pets?