If you’re an animal lover, it may be that you have introduced a new pet into your family a time or two. And sometimes those introductions can go amazingly smoothly! In those cases, the adjustment period goes by quickly and everyone gets along, making your menagerie the happy group you hoped for.
Sometimes though, there is more involved with helping your current pet adjust to a new pet. If things aren’t going well, keep reading for some ideas from your friends at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.
First Thing’s First
Assuming you spent some time considering your current pet and what kind of new pet makes sense for your whole family, time and patience is the key to a successful adjustment. If you’ve already introduced your current pet to a new pet, hopefully things went well with that first meeting. If they didn’t, consider going back a step in the process and taking longer to move through the steps.
Helping A Current Pet Adjust
If things aren’t going well, there can be many reasons. If your current pet is older, for example, and you bring a rambunctious kitten or puppy into the house, be prepared to “protect” your older pet from too much energy.
Some other things to consider to help a current pet adjust to a new pet:
Have an environment of plenty. There should be one water bowl for each pet, plus one. There should also be one litter box per cat, plus one. You should provide plenty of places for pets to rest and retreat to. There should be plenty of toys, especially the kind your current pet likes, so that there are no reasons for the dogs to compete over them. If your current pet has a history of guarding his toys, they should be removed for the initial period of time, which may be a few weeks.
Feeding tips. Feed your current pet the way you have always done, and feed the new pet in another room. This way, your current dog won’t have any worries about feeding time that might lead to problems down the road. The new dog doesn’t have any expectations about feeding, so will be less prone to stress. Some new pets may need a person with them at feeding time to encourage eating as they adjust to a new home.
Sleepy time. DOn’t change your dog’s sleeping arrangements at first. Allow your dog to sleep where he is used to in order to avoid disagreements at night when you may be unprepared to intervene.
Become the master of distraction. Your current pet may try to block the new pet from things that are important to her. Many times this is you! Don’t scold or punish your pet, but instead, get up and distract the pets if it looks like you are becoming the center of this, and distract either pet if it looks like one will be invading the space of another.
Supervise. Supervise as much as necessary to make sure serious conflicts don’t arise. Many dogs will play roughly at first until they learn to modulate their play. Be prepared to distract if play becomes too intense. Stay positive and patient to help your current pet adjust.
Visitors. Any situation that raises the level of excitement in your home should be avoided at first. The more time pets have to become accustomed to each other without visitors or other disturbances the better. It’s also prudent to supervise pets and children closely and to not let them interact with the pets without adult supervision.
Home alone. Don’t leave the pets home alone together unless you can be reasonably sure that they are comfortable with each other. One pet can be crated, or they can be gated in separate areas of the house until you know there are no problems when you’re gone. Try to keep outings short until you know the pets are comfortable with one another.
A Bright Future
Keep in mind that very few pets coexist without any disagreements, but if the pets are truly not getting along, you may want to consider the assistance of a veterinary behaviorist or certified trainer.
Although introductions between pets sometimes take time, most pets get along well once they are accustomed to each other. Each pet is an individual and this process will be different for each household.
If you need assistance or have questions or concerns please give us a call. We’re here to help!