7 Tips on Combining a Multi Pet Household

Introduce New Pets with These Easy Steps

 Dogs & Cats together

You've decided to bring home another new pet but Rufus, your faithful companion who's enjoyed the spoils of single “pethood,” may not share in your excitement.

No worries: These easy-to-follow tips from Daniel Estep, Ph.D and Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D of Animal Behavior Associates will help expedite a smooth transition for your pets.

Introducing New Pets to One Another

It's important, advises Estep and Hetts, that pet owners keep in mind that each introduction will be different depending on the species (dog, cat, etc.), the number of animals, and the ages, sexes and individual temperaments of each animal involved.

1. Make Your New Pet Comfortable

Confine your new pet to a comfortable space where she/he can be visually isolated from other household pets but can begin to get accustomed to the new home. In addition, consider isolating the other household pets so that your new pet can explore your home without the other pets present.

2. Supervise the Introduction

Never leave unfamiliar pets unsupervised together to "work things out" on their own. First impressions are important to pets as well and if things start out badly, the pets may never get along.

3. Use Rewards to Ensure a Positive Meet and Greet

Use food treats or toys to reward non-fearful and non-aggressive behavior to keep all of the pets in a happy mood; a pleasant introduction between pets will have a lasting, positive impact.

4. Limit Your Pets' Movements

Restrain your pets at first with leashes or by holding them near you. Pets that aren't moving freely are less likely to display fearful or aggressive responses. In addition, it will be easier to separate pets should they start fighting if they're both on leashes and there is one person paired with each pet to help maintain restraint. You may also consider having a broom on hand in case a fight does break out and you need an object to place between pets. The broom is not meant for punishment; it is never recommended to place your hands on pets if they are fighting as bodily injury is a possibility to you or anyone else present.

5. Keep it Short

Make the initial introduction brief: five to 10 minutes at the most. Gradually work up to longer periods of time. As your pets become more relaxed around one another, give them more time and freedom to move freely around together.

6. Don't Punish Pets for Bad Behavior

Punishing pets for aggressive behavior may set your pets up for future failure by initiating additional aggressive behavior. Simply remove your pets from the situation and start again with limited introductions.

7. Don't Rush Your Pets' Bonding Time

Most importantly: Be patient. Several short introductions over several days or weeks works better than a few longer sessions filled with tension.

Remember that pets have different temperaments so while some pets may get along easily, it may take longer with others. If your pets have not been fully integrated within a week or two you may need to consider professional assistance.


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