Introducing your dog to a new dog, cat or pet can be a daunting experience. However, canine introductions don’t have to be hard, or even scary. Here are some ways to introduce your dog to various pets. Some key factors to remember with any introduction are to take it slow, take lots of breaks, and not get upset if it doesn’t work out.
Consistent Socialization is Key
The first step to any successful introduction is the make sure your dog is well socialized. Socialization usually happens most in puppyhood, but consistent meeting of other dogs in social places such as out on walks, at parks, or in structured training and play groups can keep your dog “in the know”. A dog that already gets along with others is more likely to handle a new pet with less stress.
Bringing Home a New Dog
A good way to start new canine introductions is to meet in a neutral space. This eliminates issues over territory, toys, and other resources that may cause stress. Taking a walk together in a neutral park, or meeting at the animal shelter can help. Once home, let both dogs meet each other under full supervision. Be sure to pick up any beds, toys, treats, etc that may be fought over. If the dogs get too excited or start a fight, separate them for a few hours before trying again.
Bringing Home a New Cat
Cat introductions can go similarly to dog ones, however having baby gates or a way for your new cat to quickly escape if your dog is too excited is best. Keeping your dog on leash while meeting the cat, and giving the cat a high perch to “observe” your dog can help reduce tension. Make sure introductions only happen under complete supervision, and if either party feels stressed, take a time out.
Bringing Home Other Pets
Pocket pets, birds, and other small animals that are mostly caged may trigger prey instinct in some dogs. Introducing with the safety of a cage or other barrier, and keeping your dog on leash is best to minimize any trouble or chasing of the new pet. Keeping your new pet in an area where access can be blocked off can also help decrease stress.
Some signs of stress to watch out for in your dog or other pet include: stiff, tense bodies, low growling, showing the whites of eyes, hissing, lunging, or other inappropriate behavior. If you see either pet becoming stressed, it’s time to take a break and try again once both pets have calmed down in separate locations.
If your new pet and your dog just don’t seem to get along, seeking out professional advice is best. A local trainer can easily help figure out what might be going wrong and can offer personalized tips to ease the transition. Make sure to never leave your pets alone together unsupervised, as even the nicest dog may accidentally harm a cat or smaller pet. Canine introductions may sound tricky, but with time, patience, and knowing when to take a break, you can make sure it is a success.
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