A black dog snuggles with a tabby kitten.

There’s nothing like bringing a new pet into the fold to add love and excitement to your household. But the sudden adjustment of meeting new people and other pets can be stressful on a new pet, and that happy and sweet dog or cat you met in the shelter can turn into a different animal when confronted with a new situation.

Here are some of our top tips for introducing a new pet to your family.

Introducing A New Pet 

Introducing a new pet to your family takes time, patience, and more than a little planning.

Pet proofing the home – Don’t assume that your new pet will know where to go and what to do in their new home. Limit your pet’s access to the home at first, keeping them in one room or area for several days and slowly allowing them to explore more areas over time. Provide plenty of toys, scratching surfaces, litter boxes, and potty breaks during this adjustment period to set them up for success!

Pets meeting kids – Caring for a pet is the perfect opportunity to teach kids responsibility and compassion. Make sure your kids know how to approach your new pet and how to treat them with gentle kindness. Never leave pets and kids together unsupervised.

Dogs meeting dogs – Dogs should begin their new lives together by meeting on “neutral territory.” Opt for a parallel walk through the neighborhood (with one adult holding the leash of each dog). Monitor the dogs’ body language for relaxation before gradually walking them closer together. Keep dogs in separate areas of the home until they are comfortable with each other.

Cats meeting cats – Cats are notoriously territorial and will need ample time to get used to each other’s presence. Keep your new cat in a separate room and make introductions slowly over time. Make sure each cat has their own litter box, plus one extra elsewhere in the home.

Dogs meeting cats – Preventing problems from ever developing in the first place is the key to peaceful living between dogs and cats. Keep pets separated by a gate or barrier that still allows them to see and sniff each other. Cats should have a cat tree or other high place to retreat to as you introduce them with the dog on a short leash.

For more information on peacefully and successfully introducing a new pet to your family, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your team at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital.