More Love to Go Around…
Introducing an Additional Pet into Your Household
Written by Sam Schunk
Current pet owners often choose to expand their family by bringing home another furry friend to love. Aside from having a new cuddly canine or friendly feline to adore and care for, owning multiple pets can be a positive experience for everyone involved. When this transition is orchestrated with care and compassion, it ensures the most auspicious beginning for the relationship. The following tips can ensure these important introductions go more smoothly.
PREP FOR SUCCESS
Make all the necessary house-hold adjustments before in-troducing a new dog or cat into the household. Be sure that each pet’s personal spaces for eating, relaxing and other essential needs are well established. Tend to checkups, vaccinations and obedience training, if need be, so that the transition is as safe as possible for your furry friends. Keeping up daily routines with any existing pets helps them to better adjust to the new family member. For more details on preparing your home, check out the January Pets in Paradise article in the print magazine or log on to GulfCoastLivingOnline.com, click on ‘Pleasure Time’ on the menu bar and scroll down to ‘Pets in Paradise.’
Before bringing the dog into the home, put the cat in a safe place. Let the dog roam the house for 30 to 45 minutes, and then either put the dog in its crate or take it for a long walk. Then release the cat and allow it to sniff around, introducing it to the dog’s scent. If the dog is, or will be, crate-trained, encourage the cat to approach the dog in its crate. Rather than placing the cat next to the crate, let the cat initiate this on its own. As you are making these crucial introductions, remember to speak in a calm soothing voice, calling both animals by name, as this will help to set the tone.
Expect that, even with the best of planning, a little fur may fly, at least metaphorically speaking. It is completely normal for the cat to initially react to the dog by hissing and/or running off. To establish the rules, the cat may also swat the dog on the nose. If this occurs, instead of disciplining Kitty, focus on Fido and give him a toy. Shifting attention to the other pet will nip this type of behavior in the bud.
BE THE TOP DOG
For the first few days of training, consider attaching the dog’s leash to your belt, as any corrections will be quicker and easier to make, if need be. Since the dog will have to follow you everywhere, this practice will establish you as the “alpha dog” and also give greater opportunity for the two of you to bond.
TAKE THE LEAD
Give a quick pull on the pup’s leash, and use the “sit” or “leave it” commands to curb any aggressive actions toward the cat. When Rover complies, respond immediately with praise or a treat. If, after about an hour, you feel that the dog is behaving well, let go of the leash, but be prepared to intervene, if need be.
Supervise all interactions and keep Fido on a leash until you are certain that Fluffy will be safe around the dog. As the pup and cat are getting used to each other, expect that your dog may try to pursue your cat. If so, placing the dog in its crate immediately is best.
READY, STEADY, GO
Before leaving a cat and dog alone together, make sure that the two animals are comfortable with one another. Clues of successfully socialization are apparent when the dog is no longer interested in chasing the kitty, and when the cat feels safe investigating the pup.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Anticipate that accidents or spraying in the house may happen as the animals adjust to one another. Just clean it up, using an enzymatic cleanser, without comment.
With the proper planning and attention to detail throughout the process, having another pet can add to the love in the household. Dogs and cats can live together peacefully, and can even become close companions.
The steps provided in this article are general in nature, and may need to be adapted for your specific situation. It is advisable to contact your veterinarian, trainer or other dog care professional for suggestions tailored to suit your family’s needs.
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