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How do you introduce a new pet to your home?

Published on June 15th 2023

BB introduction

Already have a pet at home and want to adopt another? Great! To make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible, it's important to follow certain introductory steps. 👇

A few general rules

  • Always keep a close eye on your pets' body language: if you see that they're not at ease, give them some space away from each other. Avoid rushing the relationship and respect their rhythm!
  • The resident animal, the one you already had, must retain its privileges and not feel it's losing anything.
  • Try to create positive associations, either with treats or pleasant activities! The animal needs to associate the other with something pleasant.
  • Never leave the animals alone together until you're completely sure it's safe. This can take weeks, even months!
  • If necessary, call in a professional.

Introducing two dogs

At the SPCA de l'Outaouais, we organize a meeting between the dogs right here at the shelter, before proceeding with the adoption. This allows us to supervise the first meeting a little and see if there's a good chemistry between the animals.

When you bring Pitou home, let the two dogs get to know each other in a neutral place, like a park. A fenced-in yard also works well. The important thing is to avoid immediately bringing the new pet into the other's "territory" in the house!

Then let the dogs get a feel for each other and get to know each other, while keeping an eye on their body language and being ready to intervene in the event of a quarrel. It's best to avoid toys, as dogs may want to protect "their" resource and fight!

Finally, keep in mind that animals are like us: when we make new friends, we create a relationship step by step, and that goes for dogs too. Respect their rhythm and don't be surprised if they don't become best friends from the very first second!

Over the following weeks, if you feel the tension has eased and the dogs are comfortable together, you can start to let them interact more together, possibly alone if it feels safe. Before doing so, avoid leaving them alone (at night, for example, put them in separate rooms to avoid incidents).

Introducing cats and dogs

Once again, put safety first and avoid circumstances conducive to incidents. Keep the dog on a leash until you're sure he won't behave aggressively towards the cat.

Make sure that Minou has hiding places and that he can take refuge in high places when the dog is present, such as a cat tree. As long as you have a cat and a dog at home, you'll need to provide Minou with places that the dog can't access when he needs a break.

Next, try to produce pleasant associations, for example by giving treats to the animals while they are in each other's presence! Once again, it's imperative to respect each animal's rhythm and make sure there's no tension before moving on to the next stage. If you try to force a friendship, it's a recipe for disaster!

Introducing two cats

This is a desensitization process: you need to give them time to get used to each other and, once again, create positive associations.

For the first few days, or even weeks, leave the new pet in a separate room until it becomes comfortable. Then begin to introduce the animals quietly, in stages: offer each a bowl of food on either side of a fenced door, then gradually move the bowls closer together over the days if all goes well, until you can remove the fence.

The key to avoiding feline squabbles is to multiply resources. Avoid having to fight over litter or food by creating a little corner for each cat.

Bear in mind, too, that cats are independent and rather solitary animals, so they may never become "best friends". If you're thinking of adopting a 2e feline, do it for yourself, not for your pet, who may look "bored"!

Good introduction!