Welcoming a new pet into your home

How to properly introduce a new pet to your family home!

Nothing beats the excitement of welcoming a new pet into the family home, however, your current pets may not share your level of excitement. Bringing a new animal into your home will require a bit of preparation, work and a lot of patience!

A new kitten or puppy might feel quite scared, whilst your existing cat or dog might feel threatened or neglected. Pet owners shouldn’t rush the process, as it can take some time for your animals, new and old, to develop a comfortable relationship with each other.

The Christmas holidays in particular can be a very busy time in a household. With all the extra activity, it can make animals agitated and more active, so it’s crucial when new pets are involved, to try and restore some level of calm and quiet in the home to reassure all pets.

Luckily, depending on what type of animal and the circumstances, there are a few things you can do to help keep the peace between your new and existing pets!

New puppies and older dogs

Puppies can be a handful due to their playfulness and curious nature, which means they tend to bother adult dogs. Most good-tempered, mature dogs would normally just growl or snarl at playful puppies to establish boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

However, you should never allow a puppy and an adult dog to be left alone together until they are at ease with each other, for the safety of both dogs. It’s crucial to allow your more established dog plenty of time away from the puppy and quality time alone with you and your family to show them they are still important to you and that your relationship has not changed.

Dogs are extremely possessive of their food and don’t like to share, so you should never allow your puppy and the adult dog to eat out of the same bowl, in fact, separate bowls are a must as well as separate feeding areas, to keep fights over food to a minimum. Treats should also be given separately. 

Introducing a kitten to your dog or cat

Don't be tempted to bring a dog or cat into your home suddenly and rely on your other pets to manage their own introduction. Cats are more likely to struggle with building friendships with other felines, and they can often find it easier to be around different species.

It is a bit of a myth that cats and dogs are natural enemies, in reality, it is far easier to introduce a cat to a dog than to another cat. Of course, it does help if your cat and dog have had previous positive experiences with the opposite species.

Supervision during kitten and cat playtime can help reduce any possible friction, particularly for the first month or so, as you never know how each feline might respond when you throw another pet of the same species into the mix.

You should start by providing your kitten with a room that feels safe and is not accessible to your dog or other cat while also introducing your pets to each other's scent.

How to swap scents

It sounds odd but it’s very easy to introduce new pet scents and it’s something animals do naturally, especially cats. You will need to:

• Use a separate clean, soft cloth to gently rub down each pet and dab the cloth around your home or leave the cloth in each cat's environment so they can sniff it and investigate, whilst getting used to the scent of the other

• Repeat the process until your pets show no reaction to the new smell

• If you notice your pets avoid the smell, all is not lost, you just need to persevere

Use a neutral ground

A neutral place to introduce your new and existing pets is the best way to start. In the case of dogs it can be a park or for two cats or a cat and a dog, using a normally out of bounds area of the home can help.

If more than one existing pet is meeting a new puppy or kitten or even an older rescue dog for the first time, introduce each pet to the new pet individually. Never just let a new pet roam free as this can cause disputes over established territories as well as the possibility of existing pets ganging up on a new pet.

Seperate feeding times

Pets, especially dogs, can get very anxious and jealous when food is involved. Each pet should have its own water and food bowls as well as sleeping area and bed. Remove one animal while you feed the other to avoid any stealing of food or jealousies over portions.

It can be tough to get each animal to use their own bed, especially cats who tend to favour different beds at different times, but as long as there is a separate safe place for each animal, you should see fewer confrontations.

Walking your new pet

Walking new and established pets together will help strengthen their relationship by allowing for some fun in a neutral place. Low-key activities and games go a long way in strengthening bonds between pets. Always praise both animals regularly and separately and give them quality one on one time with all human members of your family.