Bringing Home a New Pet
Bringing home a new pet, whether it is a foster or a new family member, can be exciting but also stressful for your resident animal(s). Here are some tips to make the transitions easier and hopefully more positive! If at any point you feel uncomfortable supervising your animals' first meeting, seek the help of a professional relationship-based animal trainer.
Before leaving your animals alone, be confident no bodily harm will occur to either animal! Better safe than sorry!
Steps for Introducing New Cats
- Before introducing your new cat, create a space for him/her equipped with food, water, scratching post, litter box and resting place so each cat has its own territory.
- Also be sure to provide hiding places for both cats. Cardboard boxes with holes is an easy DIY.
- As soon as you bring home your new cat, place it in the space you created for them.
- Strictly monitor the interactions between the cats and never allow them to be alone until you feel they are comfortable with each other.
- Be sure to spend quality time with each cat in your home.
- A stressed-out cat may have these symptoms:
- Aggressive behavior
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive hiding or vocalization
- Urinating outside of the litter box
If your cat stops eating or is experiencing any of these behavioral concerns, consult a veterinarian.
Steps for Introducing a Dog & Cat
- An adult should have the dog on a lead with the leash relaxed while the cat is able to roam free.
- Notice the dog's body language and how it reacts to the cat.
- Allow the cat to approach the dog it wishes. Ask the dog to sit or lie down and praise the dog if it ignores the cat and follows your commands.
- You’re working towards desensitizing the cat and dog, which means reducing the reaction between the animals until they are comfortable with each other.
Steps for Introducing New Dogs
If interested in adopting a new pet from the Linda L. Kelley Animal Shelter, inquire about meet-and-greet interactions prior to taking the animal home.
- Introduce them in a neutral location so neither dog will feel territorial.
- Two adults should have each dog on a lead with the leash relaxed.
- Keeping a safe distance between the dogs. Walk them side by side and then cross paths, allowing the dogs to smell each other’s scent.
- Take notice of how the dogs are responding to each other before allowing them to make contact.
- If the dogs seem comfortable, allow them to meet and smell each other; keep notice of body language between the dogs.
- If the dogs seem comfortable interacting with leashes on, take them to an enclosed area and drop the leashes and give them space to interact further.
- Giving the dogs space allows them to feel more comfortable.
- During the encounter, give verbal feedback such as “good dog!” in a light, happy voice to encourage good behaviors. If the dogs seem to be testing each other, say a command in a stern voice to try and ease the tension.
- Aggressive dog behavior includes:
- Lunging at the other animal
- Raised hair
- Staring into the other animals’ eyes
- Teeth bared