3 Tips to Ease Introducing a New Pet Into Your Home

Whether you’re introducing a new pet to your ‘resident’ pets, or they’re meeting a friend’s pet for the first time, it’s important to follow these three tips to ensure everyone’s safety and that the pets accept each other. A positive first experience will help the pets build a good relationship and avoid either pet feeling threatened or stressed.

When introducing two dogs to each other, the first step is to take a short walk in neutral territory. “This allows you to control the situation,” says Dr. Nicky at Animal Care Hospital. “And if a walk is out of the question, let them walk around outside for a little, just to get to know each other, preferably on a leash. After the walk, keep dogs separate for a while so they can get some ‘breathing room’, then reintroduce them outside again – especially if they’re big dogs.”

Hide your ‘resident’ pet’s toys! Dogs can become possessive and even aggressive with their toys. Dr. Nicky recommends keeping a couple of treats in your pocket during the process since using positive reinforcement is always a good tool. “That way you can reward them for good behavior.”

If your animals are showing aggression, stop what you’re doing and separate them for a while. Once they are both calm, you can try a different tactic such as taking them for a long walk, letting them play outside separately as a distraction and to tire them, or try again at a park or neighbor’s house. If things are going ok, but you still have concerns, take a break and try again later.

Only introduce one pet to the new dog at a time and don’t mix species. In other words, introduce dogs to dogs and dogs to cats separately. “Cats want to feel safe,” said Dr. Nicky. “Try holding your cat in a towel or blanket close to your body so they can’t bolt or scratch, and slowly let them sniff the new dog on a leash. That way the dog can’t jump or get too close.” When you think your cat has had enough, allow them to be in a separate room, safe from and away from the new pet. Then, keep introducing them in this same manner as often as you can. But again, it depends on the pet’s temperament. If the new dog is calm and low-energy, you might decide to let your cat explore the newcomer on her own time – just make sure she always has an escape route, just in case.

​​​​​​​“A lot depends on their ages and their temperament, too,” said Dr. Nicky. “Introducing two puppies is easy. The best thing to do is to separate them for a while or tire them out and try again. Most of the time with a little perseverance, it all works out.