Dec 7, 2017
Dr Deborah Samson

Introducing a new pet

Some advice about how to smoothly introduce a new cat or dog into your household

Thinking about getting a new pet but don't want to upset your existing one?

With one dog or cat in the family, why not add another one? What are the pros and cons? When is the right time? Will it change the things you love about the dog or cat you have now? It’s worth spending plenty of time to plan before getting your new pet.  

Of course, you need to look at all the normal things about choosing any dog (or cat). Those things could include: size, grooming required, activity level, disposition for interactions with the people and animals in your environment, genetic tendencies to make noise (and your facilities for keeping noise from disturbing neighbours), and matching the dog’s training needs to your training ability.

Before settling on a new breed, or type, also think about the gender- some people find same sex combinations can fight more, discuss this with your vet. You do not need to get dogs of the same breed type or size; however, you do not want a size difference so great that one could accidently injure the other just by knocking or stepping on each other.

Getting two puppies at once may sound like a great idea although it comes with a lot of challenges! Most people have an older and younger dog. Before adding a second dog, work through or figure out how to reliably manage any behavior problems your first dog has. This includes separation anxiety, inappropriate barking, aggression at windows or fences, chasing cats, housetraining accidents, and other such problems. All of these behaviours easily spread from dog to dog when they live together. Two dogs doing any of these things can be more than twice as difficult to live with as with one doing it.

When introducing two adult pets most people find it’s best done while walking each dog loosely on a lead in parallel. Introduce them on neutral territory- try and keep them separated until they show friendly body language towards one another. Ideally, they would be able to be introduced off lead through a fence. If you are not yet able to control your first dog seek help with a skilled dog trainer.  

Cats generally do not like being in large groups. Kittens even if raised together, normally only tolerate each other once mature at 2-3 years of age. Of course there are exceptions but you cannot rely on this and it is best to only have one or small numbers if you can.

This is just a brief guide. Please phone your clinic if you have questions or would like to know more.


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