Introducing New Pets

Hello, everyone!  I am your guest blogger for the month – my name is Luna!  I am a lionhead bunny and a good friend of Mason, who has been vacationing for the entire summer (lucky cat!).  He only just told me about his blog and I was all too happy to volunteer for an entry.

Bunny laying down

Finding the right pets to complete your household can be a daunting task.  How you introduce the new housemates to each other can make or break the relationship, with those all-important first impressions. The introduction process may need to continue for weeks, or even months, until everyone is comfortable with each other.

Day-to-day management of a cat and a dog (or bunny, or hamster, or fish, or bird) represents several challenges.  You’ll want to consider in advance whether you want to live with the household changes that may be required, like all the chasing and squawking and squeaking!  No one can guarantee that particular pets will be safe together unsupervised – I know that some of us pocket pets would get eaten up in an instant if Mom and Dad weren’t watching over us!

So, how do you introduce your new pet to your current companion?  Start by letting the pets smell and hear each other through a door or crate that blocks the view.  It may take at least one to several days, but definitely keep this up as long as it takes for pet to be relaxed, then try reversing their locations so your new pet can be out and about the house and your current pet is in a different area.

It’s useful to switch them back and forth several times so neither one gets jealous of each other.  If both animals remain calm, the next step would be to put two barriers between the pets, with a distance of several feet or more so both animals will feel comfortable that actual contact can’t happen.  Of course, in the cases of pocket pets, this may never actually happen, as those cats and dogs are sooooo big!!!!  It may be too scary to let them meet face to face, but crated contact is a good idea.  One of the barriers might be a see-through door, window, or crate.  If it’s a baby gate it must be one the cat can’t get over, under or through.

Dogs need to be confined away from the barrier the other pet is behind.  You could use another crate or enclosure, or perhaps have the dog on leash.  Even if both animals are completely calm at this point, that’s enough for the first day, maybe the first several days.  Don’t rush to the next stage.  If either animal is nervous when viewing the other, go back to the setup of hearing and scent without sight.  Be careful to maintain their trust by not allowing accidental contact.

Cats can take a long time to get used to things, commonly months – like I said before, my kitty brothers took forever to get used to me!  Taking things too quickly can set the process back so badly that it’s far better to go slowly.  Dogs are usually much better at meeting new pets, but they can also be quick to think that new pet is a chew toy!

You can read more about the Introduction Process here, thanks to our awesome authors and trainers over at Veterinary Partner! Veterinary Partner – Introducing New Pets

And for more information specifically regarding Dog Behavior and Introductions to new pets, please see this article on Dog Introductions.

Thank you all so much for letting me talk to you this week!  I will let Mason know you all miss him, but he is very busy getting back massages and being combed (it’s his favorite thing ever).  Next time, we will have another guest blogger for you!  Luna, out!

Luna the Bunny