Expanding the family with a new puppy or a dog can be an exciting time for anyone. But, this can also be very nerve-racking if you have pets in the home already. One wants to make sure that the newcomer feels welcome, as well as making sure that the existing animals still feel loved.
There are a few things that one can do to make the transition easier for both the new dog and the animals that are already in the house. First off, being properly prepared with both the knowledge and material will help the introductions running more smoothly. Here is a list of some materials that can help with acclimating the new dog:
- Recommended food (whether it is for a puppy, adult or a senior dog, or if there are any food restrictions)
- Recommended treats (same stipulation as for food)
- Proper sized crate (plan for adult size if it is a puppy)
These materials will help with the introductions whether it is to a cat or another dog.
Make sure all pets are vaccinated
Another consideration to think of when bringing home a new pet is making sure that the animals in the household and the new dog that is being brought into the home are all up to date on their vaccinations.
If going through a pet rescue or a shelter, most will require the pets in the home to be up to date on their vaccinations before allowing you to bring home a new dog. If getting a puppy through a breeder, there may be a chance that they have not gotten their vaccinations yet, or they have only started getting their puppy boosters. So, completing the vaccinations and considering spaying/ neutering your dog are expenses that need be put into consideration.
Introducing a new dog to your pets may be relatively easy or it may take some adjusting for the pets already in the home. The experience that is to expected all depends on the following: the animal in which are being introduced; how much exposure they have to being around another dog; the sex of the pets involved; and the age of all of the pets involved. Here it is broken down on good ways to introduce your new dog.
How to introduce cats to a new dog
Introducing a new dog to a cat can be tricky. Cats tend to like to be left alone, so whether your cat has previous exposure being around dogs, or whether they have been exposed to dogs but only up to a certain size and you bring in a larger breed can all play a factor for how smoothly the introduction goes.
When first coming into the house with your new dog, lock the cat in a separate room so you can get the new dog distracted, whether it is with food or toys. Keep the dog on the leash and continue to distract it while you let the cat out of the room. Do not force the cat to come to the dog; let them investigate on their own. If the cat hisses or bats at the dog, discourage the behavior, but stay calm while doing so. Do not let the dog off the leash until the cat seems to have calmed down some, or has gone into another room.
Try to keep the dog as calm and distracted from the cat as much as possible to give the cat time to investigate on its own time. Another way to introduce your cat to a new dog is, if you have a crate, lock the dog in the crate, and let the cat sniff around for a bit before letting the dog out. This may be a less stressful for cats who have never met a dog. Kittens may be easiest be introduced to a new dog compared to an older cat, because kittens are less set in their ways.
How to introduce dogs to a new dog
Introducing your new dog to another dog is a little different from introducing them to a cat. Dogs are pack animals, so dominance plays a part in how dogs interact with each other. The current dog has set up its territory already, and you are bringing a new dog into its turf, so both the new and the existing dog need to feel comfortable.
To do this, introduce the dogs on neutral territory (like a park, or in an area that you do not walk your current dog) will help alleviate the pressure of the current dog feeling as if its territory is being encroached. Pay attention to the body language the entire time of the introduction. Let them sniff each other, and if everything is going well, let them play.
Like cats, do not force the introduction on the dogs. Let them approach each other willingly, because this will give you the opportunity to observe how they are interacting with each other. Once they both are comfortable with each other, you can bring the new family member home. Make sure to pay close attention to the behavior during the first day the new dog is in your home. Watch for any signs of aggression, or signs that your dogs are not adjusting with each other.
Note: Before bringing a new dog home, make sure to know how either your current dog or the new dog does with other dogs and animals. You do not want to bring a dog that is aggressive toward other dogs or animals, because this will put your current animals in danger. The same goes for the current dog, you do not want to bring more animals into the home if your dog is aggressive, this won't help your situation.
Introducing small animals to dogs
Some people have small animals that they like to let roam, and some dogs should not be introduced to small animals. But if you have a small animal that you would like your new dog to be trusted with, you can introduce them in a safe and controlled setting.
You first want to put your dog on a leash (having an extra person would be helpful), and give your dog a toy or treats to distract them. Once the dog is distracted, take the small animal out of the cage, and let it smell the dog. Do not let go of the small animal so you have more control of the situation.
If the small animal does fine and is comfortable, you can let the dog sniff the smaller animal. Again, do not let go of the animal, let your new dog get used to the small animal and learn that it is not a toy nor is it something it needs to hunt.
Gradually, you can see how they interact with the dog off the leash, then move up to you not holding the animal, this could take a day or a couple weeks. Ferrets, hedgehogs, birds, and other larger rodents are good to do this with.
But remember, your dog always get along with smaller animals, so never put your animals in situations that put them in danger.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: www.aspca.org; American Kennel Club: www.akc.org; American Federation of Aviculture (AFA): www.afabirds.org; Animal Welfare Institute: www.awionline.org