6 practical tips to introduce a new pet to your home with minimal stress.
Photo by PNW Production
Introducing a new pet to your family is an exciting and stressful situation on its own, but having another pet already makes this situation even more stressful. There are certain steps you can take to ensure that the transitioning period goes as smoothly as possible, both for your family and for your new pet.
Think about your current situation
Since you have decided to get a new addition to your family, you first must think about what animal is suitable for your home, especially if you have other pets already. You need to consider the family dynamic, and whether the pet would be a good fit.
If your family is relatively active, then you can afford to have two high-energy dogs. If not, then you might be better off getting some other animal or specifically looking for a low-energy dog. Similarly, if you have a particularly territorial pet, it might be difficult to introduce another animal to your home, unless you have enough space to keep them separate.
Get everything prepared in advance
Once you have decided on a particular pet, you should start preparing everything to ensure a smooth introduction. This means you should buy everything your new pet will need before they arrive, like their own food and water bowls if it’s a cat or dog, a collar, leash, grooming supplies, aquarium/terrarium if it’s a fish or reptile, etc.
Of course, don’t forget that your pet should have its own sleeping area, even if you’ll probably end up snuggling together in your bed. Every animal needs its own space, where it can retreat to if they feel like it.
Set boundaries with your family members
Before your pet arrives at your new home, you and your family members should all have a sit-down and decide on what you will and will not allow your future pet to do, when the feeding times will be, when you will take it for daily walks, how you will discipline it when it does something wrong, etc.
All of these facts should be discussed in advance so that you all are on the same page when it comes to raising your pet and so that you can maintain a routine. Also, set these boundaries by training your pet as soon as possible, especially if it is a dog. Of course, you can use dog treats as a source of positive reinforcement when training obedience, but there are other effective methods as well.
Maintain a routine
You have to bear in mind that pets thrive on routine. They like to have a certain feeding and walking time, and when their day is pretty much predictable. That makes it easier for them to adjust their daily functioning to the routine. Every member of your family must adhere to the routine you all agreed upon beforehand.
That means that everyone works towards maintaining that routine, in order to provide your pet with a stable environment. However, this does not only go for feeding and walking time, but also for what your pet is and is not allowed. If you unanimously decide not to let the dog onto the furniture, then all family members must obey that, and there cannot be a single family member who allows the dog on the couch. Of course, unless you want a confused, undisciplined pet that does not know its boundaries.
Create safe spaces for your pets
When you have more than one pet, introducing them to each other may take some time. Cats are perfect additions to any home, but they can be extremely territorial, especially if you did not get them both as kittens at the same time. It may take weeks, even months before you can leave them together unsupervised. Dogs are a bit easier to get accustomed to each other, however, it would be best to avoid having same-sex pairs, especially females.
Having a safe space for each pet separately can help the introduction go a bit smoother. There you can place the toys that belong only to that pet, and, if they are cats, you should provide them with their own kitty litter. This way your pet can retreat to its safe space whenever they feel the need to decompress.
Organize joint play-time
Your pets will become pals much quicker if they have play sessions together. If they are dogs, take them on long walks together, and once they have become comfortable with each other, you can even let them off the leash so that they can play freely. You can even have joint play sessions with your cats, just make sure they are completely relaxed with each other.
Over to you
Setting boundaries, getting all the supplies you will need in advance, and providing your pets with safe spaces are just some of the things you should do when getting an additional pet for your family. Remain patient and understanding of your pets’ needs, and you will have no problems at all.
By Derek Lotts