More new pets come home during the holidays than any other time of the year. While the human members of your family may be excited, the furry family members may be less enthused about the new family member. We have some tips on introducing a new dog to other dogs in the family, and any family cats that you may have.
To other dogs…
Dogs are “pack” animals, meaning they have a natural social structure and dominance hierarchy. If you already have more than one dog in your home, they probably have this structure in place. When you’re ready to introduce a new dog into the pack:
- Choose a neutral location. If you do your introductions on your existing dog’s turf, he’ll be inclined to view the new pup as an intruder.
- Be sure each dog is on a leash and is being handled by separate people.
- Let the dogs thoroughly sniff and examine each other, being mindful of each dog’s body language
- Use plenty of positive reinforcement, including treats and praise, when the meeting is going well.
- Once the dogs seem comfortable around each other, take them home. Because of that natural hierarchy mentioned above, one will likely take the dominant role and may seem to claim certain items or areas of the house. Give the dogs time to adjust and to get into a routine with their new family member.
Some cats love dogs and will play with them like they’re part of the same pack, other cats will tolerate dogs, and some cats are terrified of dogs. Consider your cat’s personality before getting a new dog and before introducing the two animals.
- Start with separation. Keep your dog in one area of the house and your cat in another. After a day or two, switch their spaces, giving them both the opportunity to get used to each other’s smell.
- Once your new pup seems to be calm and comfortable with the cat’s scent, put a leash on him, and take him into the room with the cat for a few minutes at a time, based on the reactions of each animal. Continue introducing the animals in the same manner for a few minutes each day until they are calm around each other.
If you do have an adorable new pet coming home, please be sure to contact us! We proudly offer lifecycle care to our patients. Dogs and cats have different needs at different stages of their lives, just as we do – so we address and modify our recommendations based on age as well as lifestyle specific activities. For our youngest patients, we focus on identifying any potential congenital problems, developing an appropriate immunization strategy, and providing health care and training advice. As pets mature into their Adult years, we shift into the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle with routine screenings for parasites, treatments for illnesses and injuries that may arise, and a regular dental regime. As our patients enter their golden years, we include annual bloodwork as part of our preventative care approach.