How to Introduce Your Adopted Dog to Your Other Pets
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! And this is the perfect time of year to bring home a new dog. Adding a shelter pup to your family can be one of the most rewarding things you do. Not only are you giving a deserving pup a loving home, but you'll also be able to enjoy many fun activities together and keep each other warm with lots of cuddles as the weather gets chillier.
If you bring home your pup now, you'll have plenty of time to help your adopted dog acclimate to your home before the holidays, like introducing your new pup to your other dogs and cats.
Creating a happy home for all your pets includes being intentional about how your new dog meets your current pets. Don't just throw them all together and hope for the best. That's the worst thing you could do! Instead, take things slow and follow the steps in this guide to help create a peaceful home life.
Understand the Dog's Personality Before Adopting
When you already have a cat or dog, it's important to do your research before bringing another animal home. Ask the shelter or rescue if the dog you're considering gets along with cats and other dogs. It can be very difficult to teach a dog with a high prey drive not to chase a cat. The same goes for territorial dogs that are guarded around other pups.
Of course, you also want to keep in mind the personality of the dog or cat already in your home. Will they be amenable to the dog you're thinking about adopting? Consider your current pets' past behavior to help you figure out how well they'll get along with a new dog. Has your cat been around other dogs before? How did your dog interact with other pups at dog parks if you took him in the past?
Introduce Your New Dog Slowly
Slowly introduce your new dog to your current pets. While the exact steps might differ based on whether your first pets are dogs or cats, the guiding advice is the same. Don't rush it; trust the process. You want to give them time to get used to each other before they interact unsupervised.
Remember: Don't try to bring your current dog or cat to the shelter to meet your new dog for the first time. All the sights, sounds and activities can stress out your current pets and leave a bad first impression. Following the guidelines below will help you with long-term happiness in the home.
Introducing a New Dog to Your Cat
When introducing a new dog to a cat, start by keeping them in separate spaces for at least a few days. Consider setting up a calming diffuser in the room your cat spends the most time in. The diffuser releases a drug-free vapor that mimics your cat's own calming pheromones, ensuring her that everything's OK.
Feed them on opposite sides of a closed door until neither reacts negatively to the other.
Then give them their first in-person introduction. Start with short visits that are only a few minutes long at the most, keeping your dog on a leash throughout their visit. Then slowly make the visits longer if they're at ease around each other. Give them treats while they're together.
If this goes well, you can progress to letting go of your dog's leash. But be ready to grab it if he lunges or has any other disruptive signs, like growling, holding his tail down, or having a tense rather than relaxed posture. Give them more and more time together until they can ultimately be left alone. (This usually takes at least a month.)
Introducing a New Dog to Your Current Dogs
When they meet, make sure you've removed any items your resident dogs may feel possessive about, like food or water bowls, a ball you play with, or any other toys.
Start in a neutral location outside or even in your backyard. Don't have your first meeting inside your home because your current dog is more likely to feel possessive about your house, making the first meeting more tense. You'll need a friend's help since both dogs should be on leashes. If this first meetup goes well, take them on a walk together.
Watch their body language. If everyone seems happy, let your new dog explore your home alone. After he's had time to check the place out, bring your first dog inside.
Watch them closely for signs of stress or jealousy, like stiff posture, intense staring, lip baring, tense ears pointing forward or worse — growling and snapping.
As long as they get along, you can keep them together while supervising. Good signs to watch for include a relaxed posture, gently wagging tails, playful barking, play bows, and rapidly moving their bottoms from side to side like they're happy.
If they don't get along, you can try keeping them in separate rooms and reintroducing them later for a few minutes at a time, gradually extending the time if they tolerate each other well. Enlist the help of a pet trainer or behaviorist if they're not making progress.
Even if they get along right away, you'll want to keep them in separate spaces when you're not home. It can take a couple of weeks or even months before newly introduced dogs are comfortable enough to be left alone together. There's no specific rule for how to know. You'll need to feel it out, based on how they act together while supervised.
Give Your Pets Separate Living and Eating Spaces
Make sure your new dog and your current pets have separate living and eating spaces. Having their own space builds confidence and camaraderie. This is because they feel like they have ownership of something and have a place they can go when they need to de-stress and calm down.
Meal time can be tense. So, it's helpful to keep separate food and water bowls for each pet. A great option for a water bowl is the K&H CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl which comes in three sizes. (There's a CleanFlow Filtered Water Bowl for Cats too!)
Fill their separate living spaces with cozy items to help them feel safe. Your pets may love the Self-Warming Lounge Sleeper. Dogs especially will enjoy cots that let them stretch out, like the K&H Original Pet Cot. Older dogs will appreciate the comfort that comes from the K&H Thermo-Ortho Bed.
For cats, look for something with a cover to help them feel protected around your new dog, like the Self-Warming Hut or the Self-Warming Hooded Kitty Bed. Kitties will also love the Thermo-Lookout Pod that lets them snuggle down securely.
Your kitties will also feel more at ease if their food and water are too high for the new dog to reach. The EZ Mount Up and Away Diner lets them eat while enjoying an outdoor view safe from your dogs.
If you need to crate your pets, get a Memory Foam Crate Pad to make the crate extra comfy. It comes in multiple sizes.
Play with Your Pets and Maintain Routines
Make sure all your pets get lots of exercise. Lots of pent-up energy can make it harder for them to get along. Play with your cat daily, throwing treats for her to chase or using feather wands to entice her. Take your dogs for long walks every day. Keep to a routine, which can provide a source of comfort when other things in the house are changing.
Remember, if you have any trouble introducing your new dog to your current pets, there's nothing wrong with getting extra help from a dog trainer or a pet behaviorist. Every dog is different, and some dogs just need a little extra TLC.
Following these tips can help ensure your new dog is cozy and happy in his home, getting along well with your current cats and dogs. Together, your little family can have a peaceful and happy holiday season.