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Adding to Your Family

Introducing New Pets to a Home with Pets.

By Tim DiPaolo

 

Adding a new dog or cat to a home that already has a dog or cat is an important time for all of you but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  Following some easy rules can help.

 

Know before you go.  If you adopt or purchase an older dog or cat make sure you know why they are being re-homed.  If the dog is a notorious cat chaser you may want to keep looking.  If the cat has a few dogs’ eyes under his belt, you may also want to reconsider.

 

Consider their ages.  It is easier to introduce a puppy to an older cat or a kitten to an older dog because puppies are smaller so they are less of a risk to the cat and kittens are not as afraid of the dog.

 

Let ‘em hide.  Allowing the cat high perches or small hidey holes to get away from the dog is

best.  This gives the cat security on it’s own terms.  You may also need to get a few baby gates to set up a safe room that the cat can escape to when it wants.  Keep in mind that most dogs have a significant prey drive that causes them to chase small, fast moving and furry animals.

 

Restraint.  You may need to hold onto the dog but let the cat roam during the initial sniffing period.  According to Katherine A. Houpt, James Law Professor of Behavior Medicine – Emeritus at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, if there is going to be a problem it usually starts with the dog.

 

Don’t force the closeness.  Let them be near each other on their own terms.  Holding the cat near the dog can encourage a fight.

 

Mix things up a bit.  Closing a few doors or moving some furniture or the cat box can help.  This forces pets to get used to the new surroundings before they start to worry about the newcomer.

 

Keep things positive.  Using some positive reinforcement like treats or praise towards both pets when they interact in a sociable manner can go a long way.  This tells them that being nice around each other is good and also what you want.

 

The new kid.  Introducing a new dog to an existing dog is also not that hard if you follow a few steps.  First, let them meet on neutral ground.  Dogs can become territorial on their property so bringing a new dog into the equation can feel like an intrusion to the first dog.  Making them meet at the dog park or the woods out back can help a lot to avoid this.  Be sure to use the above mentioned positive reinforcement.  Let them each have their own beds or crates to begin with, and eventually they may intermingle well.

 

At the time of this writing the author has two dogs and a cat living in harmony.  I have never witnessed an altercation or the results of one in my happy home.  They even eat and sleep together!

Ref: Wendy C. Fries., WebMD