Few things are as thrilling as bringing home a new pet. Your current pet, however, may not share this excitement. Even if your existing pets are laid-back and low-maintenance, bringing a new animal home will require some work and a lot of patience. This can be an extremely stressful event for the current pet, especially if he or she is used to being the only pet in the home. Things might be a little rocky at first, but there are a few things you can do to help this transition go a little smoother and keep all the pets happy.
Breed consideration should be thought out carefully. Physical size differences, such as pairing a Chihuahua with a Great Dane, can be an issue for the smaller pet. Whether accidental or intentional, there is the opportunity for the smaller pet to get hurt. Different breeds offer different dispositions. An easygoing pit bull may not be able to get along with a high-strung Chihuahua. Once again, your existing pet might seem indifferent towards other animals, but this could change once another animal is actually in the home.
Neutral Meeting Place
Choosing a neutral place to introduce your pets is the best way to start, just so that the current pet isn’t ambushed. You can choose a neutral meeting ground, such as a park. Taking your current pet away from its territory will help reduce the stress during their first meeting. If two or more current pets are meeting for the first time, introduce each pet to the new pet individually. Your current pets might get territorial if you merely bring a new pet home one day and let him or her roam free.
Separate Bed and Breakfast
Many pets (especially dogs) get very testy and jealous when food is involved. Each pet should have its own eating space with its own water bowl and food bowl, as well as its own sleeping area and bed. This will help the pet acclimate on its own terms and pace. For the first little while, it’s a good idea to have separate feeding times so that you don’t have any fights breaking out over breakfast. By putting one animal in a different room or outside while you feed the other, you avoid any stealing of food or jealousies over portions. It can be tough to get each animal to use their own bed, but as long as there is a separate space for each animal, there will be less fights over property.
Walking the pets together will help strengthen their relationship by allowing for some fun while being in a neutral place. It is best if there is one person per pet, particularly on their first walk. The leashes should be kept loose, especially when the pets choose to interact. Low-key activities go a long way in establishing a bond between the pets. It teaches them to like each other if good things always happen when they are together. Always praise both animals regularly and in a light-hearted tone.
If you have more than one existing pet, one is usually dominant. Bringing in a new addition to the pack will sometimes change the social structure. The new pet may become the new ruler, or a normally dominant pet may become subordinate in the structure. Whatever hierarchy evolves, it should be respected. Forcing a change to the pack might foster inter-pack hostility. No matter what changes occur, be sure to provide equal attention, praise, and discipline to each animal so that jealousies don’t arise over who is most-loved by the owner.
Providing stringent supervision and crating the pets when left alone should help reduce any possible friction, particularly for the first month or so. You might think that your existing pets would never hurt another animal or misbehave, but you never know how they will respond when you throw another pet into the mix. Drastic changes in a pet’s life (such as adding someone to the family) can cause them to act out to get attention or express frustration, so keeping a close eye on both new and old pets for the first little while will help you avoid any incidents.
The key to successfully adding another pet to the family is to be very patient and take things slow. Bringing in a new addition to the family requires everyone to make adjustments. You have to consider how scared the new pet might feel, or how threatened or neglected your old pets will feel if you don’t tread carefully. Keep in mind that it will take some time for your animals to create a comfortable relationship, but after a while, the new pet will find his or her place within the home. Information for this article was provided by professionals at the Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic, a Toronto veterinarian clinic.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write about business, women's interests, or home and family. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband, three daughters, and a spunky Jack Russel Terrier who makes life interesting! You can follow her on Twitter: @DixieSomers