Integrating New Pets: 5 Tips for a Smooth Transition

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Integrating new pets can be stressful and hard. Bringing home a new pet is an exciting but nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have other pets at home. So, it’s natural to feel some anxiety on the big day when they arrive,

I’m a vet tech and pet parent who has adopted 19 cats and dogs in my lifetime, so I deeply understand animal behavior in response to a new pet. I’ve also made horrendous beginner decisions that took months to correct and intelligent ones that integrated my pets without a single growl.

Courtesy of my pet journal, here are five tips pet adoption tips for seamlessly transitioning your pet addition into your home. Let’s get started.

Five Tips to Help Integrating New Pets

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  1. Pet-proof Your Home

Preparing for your new pet’s arrival is the first step to perfect integration. This tip is essential if you’re bringing home a cat or a dog that isn’t housebroken. Those things are escape artists!

When pet-proofing your home, focus on what your new pet might consider eating. So, you should clear away toxic houseplants and store food away from your pet’s reach. 

You should also check for fences and windows that can become an escape route. In the first days of arrival, your new pet will get into everything, and everywhere, so you should ensure that they can’t go outside.

  1. Introduce Everyone Separately

When you bring home a new puppy or kitten, gathering family members and gawking over the pet’s cuteness can be tempting. However, you can easily overwhelm a new pet with a crowd.

Instead, create a schedule for each family member to meet and play with the new pet separately. This way, your family gets one-on-one quality time with your pet without stressing him. 

You can also use this opportunity to establish yourself as the pet’s primary caregiver. Since you’ll be in charge of essential tasks like bathing your pet and cutting him nails, you should familiarize yourself early.

  1. Be Patient 

Pet introductions aren’t linear, even though we wish they were. So, don’t be surprised to find your old cat swatting at the kitten and vice versa. A hissing cat or growling dog doesn’t necessarily mean you should abort your mission.

When my latest cat, Titi, joined the crew, she hissed at everyone for two weeks. Seven years ago, I’d have been panicking, but I already knew the protocol and separated them when they began to growl. Today, Titi and her brothers are best buds. 

Always ensure your older pets have a safe space to go when they feel overwhelmed, and remember to give it time.

  1. Use Plenty of Positive Reinforcement 

Positive reinforcement is a force-free way to teach our pets to differentiate between bad and good. So, it is an invaluable tool for integrating new pets.

When your pets lay or play together, give them treats and praises, and you’ll help them associate each other with good things. If you’re acclimating dogs, I’d recommend taking them on a walk to a neutral area such as a park. At the park, you can give them treats for sitting, playing, and remaining calm around each other.

Continue bringing them together slowly and rewarding them until they can calmly sit together. It would help if you remembered never to use force when integrating a new pet. Yelling and hitting can foster anxiety in your old and new pets.

  1. Create a Routine and Follow It 

Pets like dogs and cats thrive on routine, which can be an opportunity to integrate your new pet into the schedule. Ideally, your routine should be the same as before your new pet because it allows your older animals to remain calm and collected.

Walk, feed, and play with your pets as you would before, and spend one-on-one time with each animal.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How Do You Introduce a New Puppy to Other Animals 

Start by letting them sniff each other’s scents from their belongings and feed them at the other side of a door to lower their food-guarding instincts. If everything looks OK, you can allow them to meet for short periods (No longer than a few minutes) and lengthen their meetings as they progress.

How Do You Introduce an Animal to a New Environment?

Start by giving your dog a guided tour of the new area while watching his body language. If you continuously force a dog into a space, they’ll grow to dread it and react negatively when brought into the space. So, your best bet is to ease the dog into the environment with loads of treats. 

How Do I Transition My Dog to a New Home?

When transitioning into a new home, always confine your dog to a comfortable space for at least two weeks. During this time, your dog will familiarize himself with your home and know it as his territory. You should also set up daily routines and schedules to add structure to your pet’s life.

How Do You Introduce a Scared Dog Into a New Home?

Put the scared dog in a low-traffic room with all his toys and belongings. After a few days, you can leash and walk around the house to desensitize him. If you live in a shared household, ensure everyone takes turns walking the dog around the home. Soon, he won’t fear your family; you can begin taking him outside.

From Strangers to Snuggles

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With adequate planning and patience, it is much easier to integrating new pets successfully. Start by preparing your home for their arrival and creating confinements for each cat. Afterward, you can bring your pet to meet each family member separately and reward them for sitting calmly during the interactions.

Remember, however, that pets not getting along could result from a mismatch. Many pet owners get pets without checking in with the home’s existing animals, causing fights. So, it would help if you always got new pets that complement your current pets’ lifestyle. Congratulations on your new pet, and cheers to a loving household!