Are You Ready for a New Addition?Dog, Domestic Cat, Pets, Puppy
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Have you ever looked at a multi-pet household and wondered how they make it work? Maybe you’ve thought about adding a new pet to your single-pet family to provide additional companionship for both you and your other dog or cat. There is both an art and a science to introducing animals and it varies depending on what kind of pet you have. Here are some tips for introducing a second pet to the household.
Adding a Second Dog
With any introduction, a lot depends on the personality of both dogs. Age can make a difference, but that’s not the only factor. Slow and steady is the key. Dogs communicate through body language so start with both dogs on a leash and one person per dog. Keep the leash loose and allow the dogs to interact. If it goes well, praise and reward them. Take the dogs for a walk to see how they interact and regularly reinforce good behavior before providing supervised off-leash time in a fenced area.
Adding a Dog to a Cat Household
If you already have a cat or cats in your home, adding a dog can be a little more challenging. But don’t despair, it’s possible. Cats are territorial, so it may take longer to acclimate. Keep them in separate spaces. Feed them on either side of the door so they associate good things with the experience. If your cat does well, allow supervised interaction with the dog on a leash.
Adding a Second Cat
Adding a second cat isn’t all that different than adding a dog. Take it slow and offer treats and play rewards for positive interaction. With cats, you want to match their personalities. A quiet cat will get along better with another quiet cat, so don’t pick a rambunctious kitten for your home. It will take time, so keep them separated until they feel comfortable. Then you can allow supervised visits and keep them engaged with toys.
Adding a Cat to a Dog Household
The new cat is the boss here. They may already be anxious about the transition to a new home. Keep them isolated in a separate room with a litter box and food. Spend time with them but allow the cat to make the first move. It’s normal for the cat to hide. As they get acclimated to the room, feed the cat and dog on either side of the door. Eventually, you can allow them to be in the same space to sniff and explore.
It will take a number of days for the animals to become accustomed to each other , and it will take a few more days for them to really become friends. Be patient, reinforce good behavior and look forward to sharing your lap with two loving critters!
—Dr. Lauren Cassady is a veterinarian whose practice is limited to end-of-life care for pets. Heron’s Crossing has phone hours seven days a week and offers in-home appointments Monday through Saturday. Some evening appointments are available. Learn more at https://www.heronscrossing.vet/.