Introducing a New Dog to Other Pets
The decision to bring a dog into your life is a big one and shouldn't be taken lightly. Other than your own lifestyle, you also need to take into consideration the lifestyle of any pets that you may already own. Most dogs are wonderful when it comes to cohabitating with other pets but initial introductions are crucial when it comes to establishing their relationships.
Introducing a New Dog to Other Dogs
Dogs tend to handle most any type of introduction readily. When it comes to introducing your dog to another dog, it's best if it's done on neutral territory. That way your existing pet doesn't feel as they have to defend their home.
Enlist a friend to help you. The more people present during the introduction, the more control you have over the situation. Keep both dogs on a leash until they have had time to size each other up. Only take off the leashes when both you and the dogs feel comfortable.
It's best to leave toys out of the equation when introducing dogs for the first time. A dog may become territorial and display behavior that could result in a fight. Using treats, however, can help to reinforce positive behavior. If the dogs are acting aggressively towards each other, do not introduce treats as it can worsen the situation.
Take the dogs on a walk together. A joint, noncompetitive activity can diffuse tension between the dogs and make them feel more comfortable with each other.
If a fight does ensue, don't panic. Short scuffles are common and easy for dogs to get over. If the fight lasts longer than a few seconds, it may become necessary for you to break up the fight. Never pull the dogs apart using your bare hands. Getting bit won't help the situation. Instead, try distracting the dogs with loud noises such as clapping your hands or banging two objects together. If that doesn't work you can try throwing water on the dogs or pulling them in opposite directions using the leashes.
The biggest thing to remember is to keep calm. Dogs can sense when you are nervous and take cues from you. If you are calm, they are more likely to be calm. When the dogs are friendly and tolerant towards each other they are ready to go home together. Once they are home together, keep monitoring the interaction between them to make sure that both dogs are safe.
Introducing a New Dog to Your Cats
Cats are generally less accepting of new companions than dogs are. Because of this, special care needs to be taken when introducing your new dog to your cat(s). While there is no exact formula for their introduction, taking certain steps one at a time will help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly and as safely as possible.
When you first bring your new dog into your home, put him in a separate room with all of his amenities, including his favorite toy or blanket to make him feel at home. This helps to give your cat a sense of security and control. Allow the animals to interact through the door. If either animal displays signs of aggression or anxiety, try to distract them by getting their attention with a toy or treat. You can slowly introduce them to each other's scent through toys and other objects. That way they get used to each other's presence. It's an especially positive sign if your cat playfully paws under the door.
Once you feel comfortable, you can begin the next stage of introduction. At this point your pets should be allowed to see each other but not directly approach one another. The best and easiest way to do this is by using a baby gate. Remember to reinforce positive behavior towards one another with praise and treats.
At the point when you feel that your pets can see each other without overreacting or behaving aggressively, you can take another step and let them approach each other. This event needs to be heavily monitored and the dog should initially be on a leash. That way the cat can run away if need be. Gradually increase their monitored time together until you feel comfortable letting them interact for brief moments unsupervised.
There are some cat-dog relationships which work really well inside the home and there are those that don't. In some relationships, the interaction between the dog and cat needs to be heavily monitored for the cat's safety and the cat and dog should never be left alone together. Dog doors can be a useful escape for both parties if things are not going as planned.
Introduction processes can take a long time. Don't get discouraged if the introduction process takes longer than expected or if your pets never get along like you had hoped. Just remember to be patient and to trust your own instincts. If a situation ever makes you feel uncomfortable, it is ok to take a few steps back.
Ron Rutherford is a writer with a passion for nature and a soft spot for Thai food. He currently freelances for havahartwireless.com, which specializes in progressive and humane wireless dog fences.