How Do I Introduce Several Pets?

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Introducing a new puppy to your older dog is probably the easiest combination. (By: cogdog)

When you get your new dog, you might already have pets that you will need to introduce the new dog to. Exactly what you need to do depends on the kinds and temperaments of the animals involved.

Below are some pointers on what to expect, and how to help things go smoothly.

Introducing a Puppy to Your Older Dog

Introducing a puppy to an older dog is probably the easiest combination.

If the older dog is properly socialized with other dogs, you will not have problems. If the older dog is not, you may have to keep the dogs separated until you’re more confident about their getting along. In any case, a puppy will often be restrained as per house-training efforts when you are not at home.

Introducing a Puppy to Your Cat

If you are introducing a puppy to a cat, you will probably have some trouble for a few months. Older cats, unless they’ve dealt well with dogs before, will probably hiss and spit at the puppy or avoid him for a long time. As long as the cat has a place to retreat to and you teach the puppy to leave the cat alone (granted, easier said than done), you will work through problems eventually.

Introducing a Puppy to Your Kitten

Puppies and kittens tend to get along just fine. Watch out for possible accidental injuries if the puppy is (or will become) much bigger than the cats.

Introducing a New Dog to Your Existing Dog

If you are introducing an adult dog to an adult dog, the first few meetings will depend on their temperament and how well they get along with other dogs. You might have some scuffles to establish a hierarchy — keep an eye on it but don’t forbid it unless things get out of hand.

If one dog reacts very poorly to the other, you will have to separate them for a while and work on introducing them slowly. You may have to keep them separate when you are gone.

Introducing a Dog to Your Cat or Kitten

An adult dog with a cat can present problems if the dog thinks cats make tasty snacks, or if the cat takes a dim view of dogs. You may have to keep them separated, or expect a longer period of adjustment. If the dog is fine with cats, introducing him to a kitten is easy.

In sum, it depends on the temperament and ages of the animals involved. In most cases, you can simply introduce them, let them work it out, and after a week to a month or so, things are fine. However, sometimes this is a lengthy process that you will have to work through, especially if it is cross-species.

Tips on Creating Smooth Introductions

In general, this will work:

  • Put the dog in his own room, where the original pet can smell him, but not see him.
  • After a day or so of this, remove the dog from the room and let the original pet smell and explore the room thoroughly.
  • Put the dog back in. Depending on the reactions involved, let the pets meet under supervision. If there is some hostility, separate them while you are gone until you are certain that they get along. It is best if you can arrange a “retreat” for each animal.

Meeting first in a neutral area such as someone else’s house or in a park, if possible, may help.

Arrange a retreat for a cat by blocking off entrance to a room with a child’s gate that the cat can jump over but the dog cannot.

Be sure that the original pet gets plenty of attention after the arrival of the new pet. Resentment at loss of attention and change in routine can worsen the problems with the two getting along.

Finally, remember that it can take several weeks to a year for the animals to adjust. Don’t rush things. Your best resource is patience.

Source: Creating a Peaceable Kingdom: How to Live With More Than One Pet, by Cynthia D. Miller. Animalia Publishing Co.

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