Congratulations on your new family member! Adding a pet to your home always comes with new and unique sets of challenges. If you have other pets, will they get along? What’s the best way to make a new pet feel like part of the family? Adoptions can be tricky, but the veterinary experts at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines are here to help when you are introducing a new pet to your home.
How to Introduce a New Pet to Your Home
Do your best to make your home pet-friendly. Put away any fragile or potentially dangerous objects. Have food and water ready, along with any other necessary essentials. Cats and dogs need different things from their home environments. Cats need to scratch and climb, easily accessible litter boxes, and a safe den to hide in. Dogs need to chew and play, regular walks outside, and comfy beds. Puppies and kittens have their own unique requirements. Your veterinarian can best help you prepare and plan for your new addition.
New pets might be timid at first in unfamiliar surroundings; give them the space they need to adjust. Allow them to explore the entire house unhindered—open all the doors so that your new pet can sniff and inspect every room at their own leisure. Take new dogs for lots of walks around the neighborhood, and familiarize them with your neighbors. Acclimate children to new pets under keen supervision. Teach children how to pet and play gently, and teach them not to disturb animals while they are eating or sleeping.
Spend lots of time with your new pet, so that they know you are someone to trust. Cuddles and playtime are even more important than normal when introducing a new pet to your home. Be sure to show them lots of love and affection, but allow them to retreat when they wish. Get to know your pet’s personality and what types of play they enjoy most. Arrange to spend at least the entire first day and night with your new pet—the more time you can spare, the better!
How to Introduce a New Pet to Other Pets
Always consider your current pet’s personality before adding another pet to your home. While some animals enjoy having playmates, others prefer a more solitary lifestyle. Elderly pets don’t always appreciate the antics of a lively youngster. If you have a dog that loves to chase or play roughly, a cat might not be the best companion. Cats that hiss aggressively at the dogs they see outside probably won’t get along with dogs at home, either.
If you have other pets in your home, new pet introductions need to be planned carefully. Try to arrange a safe, neutral place for the first meeting between the two pets. Observe the body language of both pets intently, and watch for warning signs like flattened ears or tucked tails. If they react badly, separate them and try again another day. Let them get to know each other slowly. Mutual curiosity is a good indicator that the two pets are starting to get along.
Dogs should always be leashed when meeting other animals—especially when meeting cats—and dogs should each have their own handlers when meeting other dogs. A neutral area like a park is the best place for two dogs to meet. Recruit a friend to handle the new dog and bring it to your home, then take them both for a walk together. If you have resident cats, introductions should take place in your home. Cats are very territorial, and they may need to be separated from new pets at first. Getting comfortable with other animals in their space usually takes time.
Use lots of positive reinforcement during the transition—this will help your first pet know that they are not threatened, and help your new pet feel welcome in their new home. Keep a calm, happy tone in your voice when speaking to your pets, and always praise good behavior. Never scold your pets for snarling or fighting with each other, as this could instigate further dislike between the two of them. Keep your pets separated from each other when you are away from home, and supervise all interactions until you are 100% sure that they are getting along.
Need more advice?
When you bring your new fur baby in for a checkup at Animal Care Center of Castle Pines, ask us for our advice about introducing your new pet to your home. As an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association, we practice only the highest standards of veterinary care. We know that every pet is unique, and we can help you prepare for your new pet and a happy, healthy fur family!