In a perfect world, introducing a new pet to your current ones would be easy. Your new addition would enter your home and be greeted immediately with love and affection by your other pets. Soon, all would be living together in sweet harmony.
Unfortunately, reality is not always so sweet or harmonious. At Figo, we're dedicated to exploring all the parts of pet parenthood - even the moments that aren't so glamorous. To put it bluntly, dogs and cats are still animals with instincts, and they can be very territorial. That's why introductions should always be made with a lot of patience and great care.
How to introduce new pets to each other
Experts believe you should do the following when introducing a new pet into your home.
Dog with dog(s)
Have your dogs meet in a neutral area outside your home.
Keep the canines on leash at first, so you can pull them apart, if necessary.
Give your dogs adequate time to get to know each other before taking them indoors.
Dogs should ideally never greet nose to nose. A side approach (and butt sniff) are less threatening gestures.
Each pup should have his or her own water and food bowls and a separate area in your home that can be considered that dog's safe space.
Put away items that may cause conflict, such as toys and treats.
In the beginning, always supervise dogs when they are together.
If you're adopting a dog, try your best to follow the 3-3-3 rule.
If you're worried about a smooth introduction or have a dog with a history of reactivity, enlisting in expert help may be your best option. A knowledgeable trainer can help you through the process and ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Cat with cat(s)
Designate a room where your new cat can stay until they're adjusted to your home.
Put your new cat in its designated room. To help your felines get used to each other's scents, place their food bowls on opposite sides of a door. You can also give each cat an item, such as a blanket, that contains the other feline's scent.
Once your cats appear comfortable with this situation (which can take several days or weeks), you can allow them visual contact. For example, you can have them meet through a slightly opened door.
If your cats seem agreeable with one another, you can try letting them interact freely. If they start to tiff, separate them and start the process over again.
Dog with cat(s)
Designate separate safe rooms for your dog and cat.
Give each pet an item that has the scent of the other animal on it, such as a blanket or a towel.
Feed and play with each pet close to their side of the door, so that they can get used to the sounds and smells of the other creature.
Allow visual contact before physical contact.
Permit your dog and cat to interact without barriers once it feels safe. You should, however, keep your dog on a leash until they both become accustomed to one another.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.istock