Integrate a new dog or cat into your household with a few simple tips.
How to Introduce Your New Dog to Your Current Dog
Getting a second dog has many benefits. It can help calm your current dog, give him a companion while you are at work or away from home, and even offer you more protection and make you feel safer. Even though dogs in general like to be part of a pack, sometimes adding a new dog to the family can be difficult. These five tips could help make the adjustment smoother for you and your dogs.
1. Have an Extra Set of Hands
Even if your dog is well trained, it is uncertain how your dog might react to another dog living in his space. It's a good idea to have a friend bring their dog over so you can test your dog's reaction to another dog in the house prior to acquiring another dog of your own. Allow the two dogs to meet first in a neutral area such as a local park; you should handle your own dog. Both dogs should be on a leash and allowed to sniff each other out, but you should be able to pull them apart with the leashes if needed. If the initial meeting goes well, take both dogs for a walk together and reinforce good behavior with treats.
2. Have Separate Spaces for the Dogs for the First Week
It’s important to have time for the dogs to be together and apart. Both dogs need to have some one-on-one time with you, and by separating them for a short period each day, you can bond well with both of them separately. Take turns playing outside with the dogs and also feed the dogs separately. Continue to give each dog one-on-one time for the whole first week.
3. Reward Good Behavior
As your old dog and new dog adjust to each other, be sure to reward positive behavior with treats or extra attention. Encouraging the positive behaviors that you want your new pair to exhibit can help the dogs get along and bond with each other faster.
4. Be Patient and Calm
If after a week your dogs do not seem to be getting along, be patient and try to stay calm. If you show signs of being uneasy or worried, the dogs might sense that and be on edge themselves. Try not to change the current dog's daily routine but have the new dog adjust to your current dog's routine. Keep in mind that dogs thrive on a consistent structure in which they know what’s expected of them.
5. Be Aware
In addition to being patient with both dogs, be aware of what, if anything, is causing the dogs to fight or not get along. Look for body signals from both pets to determine when they are most upset and what might be triggering the irritation. Try to eliminate situations that get either dog too excited or irritated until they start showing signs of bonding and getting along with each other. Getting another dog can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you practice these five tips, you will likely help your dogs bond and become lifelong buddies.
Introducing Your New Cat to Your Current Cat
Chances are your cat will react to a newcomer by distancing herself. She may hide for a few days, refusing to acknowledge the newcomer, or she might act up in an attempt to persuade the newcomer to retreat. Here are a few tips to ease the transition:
1. Give your new cat an area where she can retreat if she becomes threatened.
2. Putting her in a spare room with the door closed for the first few days will give both cats the chance to adjust to each other’s scents without hurting each other.
3. Give your newcomer a litter box in her area along with food and water.
Selecting a New Cat
A kitten is an ideal choice, but if you want to introduce an adult cat, try to find one that has lived with other cats. A cat that is similar in age and sex to the resident cat will be accepted more readily.
In general, the following combinations in a multiple cat household seem to work best: two kittens; a mature, neutered cat and kitten; or two mature neutered cats (either two females or a male and a female). The most volatile combination seems to be two un-castrated mature male cats. Consider your current cat’s personality before introducing a new cat. An active cat is more likely to accept a new kitten. A quieter, more reclusive cat might prefer a mature, adult cat as a companion. If your cats exhibit personality conflicts, you can reduce the tension between family felines by making sure each cat has enough personal space and personal possessions to fulfill her needs.
Consider placing litter boxes in various locations throughout the house to avoid the exclusion of one cat from another cat’s territory. Keep scratching posts and beds in several locations to accommodate all the cats in your household.
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