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Introducing your puppy to your other pets

Approx. 4 minutes read

There are plenty of puppies that need forever homes, so it seems inevitable that your furry family will grow! Aside from the social responsibility, it’s so exciting to collect your new adoptee and bring them home – wondering how they will grow up into a valued member of your bustling household. However, you need to also consider your other pets. They are totally unaware of your plans and quite happy with things as they are… not expecting a new and energised puppy to enter their territory. It can be very stressful for them as well.

Try and plan your new puppy’s arrival. If any routine is going to change, start with the new schedule a week or two before, so your other pets don’t associate the change due to the puppy’s arrival. Your puppy will need his own sleeping and training space, so any rearrangement that needs to take place should do so before he arrives. Your home should also be puppy-proofed: put any wires, shoes, poisonous plants, detergents, open garbage bins, etc. out of reach. If you need to close off any part of the house, install a puppy/safety gate so he doesn’t get into any trouble.

Introducing your puppy to dogs

When introducing your puppy to your dogs, it is best to do it outside in a neutral area like the park, as your existing dogs will not be happy to share their space just yet. The most important thing to do is to stay calm, no matter what the reaction, and give your existing dog the royal treatment, and all the extra love and affection they might need. This will associate her experience of the new puppy as a positive one because she is getting so much love and praise from you.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Organise the new introduction when your dog is calm.
  • Have your puppy on a leash held by your friend. Bring your dog out (leash free, if you do not have an aggressive dog).
  • Give your existing dog treats and give her all of your attention.
  • When it seems like your dog is accepting your puppy, ask your friend to carry your puppy into your house, but allow your dog to go in first.
  • If you feel that your dog will not be happy with the new pup in the house, buy a crate or a playpen beforehand and place the pup inside it. Give your dog all your attention as if your puppy is not there.
  • Stay calm at all times and let your pets work it out. As your dog starts to interact with your new pup, she will start to put your puppy in his place. If there are any altercations, take your dog’s side.
  • If you’re earnestly concerned that your dog may harm the new puppy, muzzle her and keep hold of her leash to enable easy interference.

Easing your dog’s day-to-day living with her energised new sibling:

  • Make sure you feed your existing pet first – this will teach your pup respect and he will learn to wait.
  • If you need to feed your pup three times a day, divide your existing dog’s food into three portions, so she doesn’t feel left out.
  • Always greet, play with and treat your existing dog first.
  • When you or anyone else is giving the puppy affection and your existing pets approach you, turn away from the puppy and address them immediately. Do not allow your puppy to push them away so it can get attention because this will be seen as a challenge for dominance. Once the residential pet settles in with the new puppy, make sure you give equal attention to all your pets.
  • Try not to let your pup take any of your dog’s favourite toys or blankets. Let them ease into sharing, or buy him his own toys and blankets.

Introducing your puppy to cats

If you have a cat, you probably already know that bringing a puppy into your home is not going to make your cat happy at all. Cats don’t even like sharing their space in general, nevermind with a canine! Your cat would probably wait patiently for the puppy to move closer, just to whack it on the nose. Do not overreact and make a big scene – a simple “No” will do. Your cat knows that bullying the puppy is not nice, but it does want your pup to know to keep his distance and that it is not happy at all.

Easing your cat into accepting your new pup:

  • Place your puppy in a playpen or crate and allow your cat to wander around your pup.
  • Give your pup a chewy or toy to distract him. Cats can be very intimidating and very scary to puppies. Try not to interfere, but keep an eye just in case your cat decides to attack.
  • Don’t get too worried if your cat growls or bats at your puppy. Correcting or disciplining your cat will only make matters worse. Your cat is defining his space, which is a necessary boundary, especially for an energetic puppy.
  • Remember to give it time and to reassure your cat. Help your puppy to respect your cat’s boundaries by teaching him “no” and lightly pulling him away from your cat.
  • If it’s done properly, they could become best friends.
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