Introducing a New Dog to Your Current Pets

Most cats and dogs enjoy their relatively calm life as a domestic pet. A predator-free environment, regularly scheduled feedings, and a variety of spots in which to sleep - what's not to like? Many pets settle into a daily routine, so bringing home a new dog, especially a young and excitable puppy, can be a very stressful event for the resident cat or dog. But with a little planning around the first introduction, you can ensure that your new furry family member makes the best possible impression on your current cats or dogs.

Bringing Home a New Dog to a Resident Cat

  1. Before choosing a dog for your cat or a cat for your dog, you may want to bring the prospective pet home for an initial introduction. This will give you an opportunity to see how the two animals interact. If one is aggressive and the other is shy or fearful, you'll want to seriously consider the long-term consequences. If both are calm and quiet or if both are playful, you may have found the right match.
  2. Introductions are important:
    1. Bring the potential new pet home for introductions.
    2. Keep the dog on a leash whether it is the resident or the potential new pet.
    3. If the initial leashed introductions are not disastrous, plan to keep the potential pet for a few days. First meetings are not always a good indicator of whether the relationship will work. A watch period may be necessary to gauge.
    4. d. Keeping the dog leashed, allow the two animals to be in the same room together. Does the dog calm down eventually and ignore the cat? Is the cat calm? If yes, you may want to keep the new pet. (This "getting to know you" phase could last up to a month). If either animal is focused on the other or shows any kind of aggression, even after a month, you may want to reconsider the potential new pet. It is one thing for animals to be playful with one another, it is quite another to endure constant chaos and the threat of imminent death.
    5. Once the animals are used to seeing one another regularly, and no aggressive behavior is noted, you can remove the dog's leash to observe the interaction. If both animals are nearly oblivious to the other, you may have the perfect match.
  3. If the animals minimally tolerate one another, reconsider your choice of potential new pet. If one of them is not happy, it isn't fair to you or to them that "home" is not a completely carefree, stress-free environment. If your heart is set on the potential new pet, or if your cat withdraws, stops eating, drinking and/or using the litter box, in the very least consider consulting a professional animal behaviorist for help.

Bringing Home a New Dog to a Resident Dog

  1. Dogs are naturally "pack" oriented and only one can be the pack leader which already has his own territory. Choose a neutral location for the dogs to meet, such as a dog park, with which neither animal is familiar. Enlist the help of a neighbor or friend.
  2. Take a long walk with the dogs. This allows the dogs to work off energy, relax, and get familiar in a place that neither has claim. The new dog should be walked by your friend or neighbor behind you and the existing pet (taking the lead).
  3. Gradually, you and your friend should walk abreast between the two dogs. If there is no aggression and both remain calm, even after an abundance of sniffing one another, it is time to start home with the entire pack.
  4. Let the original pet enter your home first - after all, it was his territory first - then "allow him to invite" the new dog in. This will help establish the hierarchy with you as the pack leader.
  5. Again, if there is aggression at any point, this probably will not work and you may need to choose a new pet with a different "personality." If your heart is set on keeping the new dog, you should consider consulting the aide of a professional behavior specialist.


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