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How to Introduce Your Puppy to Other Family Pets

Though you and your family want your new puppy to be friends with your other family pets, you have to realize that your resident pets will not be wearing party hats when you walk through the door with a new companion in your arms.

Young puppies in particular are annoying to other animals — and the oodles of attention he’ll get will be off-putting to the resident pets. Some time must pass (up to six months in some cases) for everyone to get used to each other.

Here are some tips to help ease the tension:

  • Keep your new puppy in a confined area. If you choose an area that has been the feeding area for your other pet, change the feeding area to a quieter environment a week before your puppy comes home. Do the same for litter boxes and caged pets. Move them well ahead of time to ensure the pets don’t make a negative association with the puppy.

  • If the resident pet is caged, bring your puppy into its room after a meal and playtime. This restful state calms the scenario. Bring in your puppy’s favorite mat and chew toy and sit near the cage, petting your puppy calmly. Repeat this exercise often.

Giving resident pets the royal treatment

All preference goes to your resident pets — especially in the initial stages. Your puppy’s feelings will not be hurt. He’ll earn respect for your other pet and act accordingly. Here’s some advice regarding your resident pets:

  • Feed them first (dividing their meals into three parts if you’re feeding your puppy three times a day).

  • Treat, greet, and play with them first and foremost.

  • If the resident is a dog, let him pass first (on stairs and through doorways).

  • If your resident pet approaches you while you or anyone is interacting with the puppy, turn away from the puppy and address him immediately. Don’t allow your puppy to push the other pets aside for your attention.

Introducing your puppy to other dogs

Your older dog isn’t likely to be keen on the idea of sharing his space with a new puppy. Introduce the two dogs in a neutral area such as an open field or empty parking lot. Otherwise, bring your resident dog outside to meet the new addition. Whatever his reaction, stay calm as you focus your affections on your resident pet. Follow these tips:

  • Organize the introduction, preferably at a time your resident pet is most calm.

  • If you’re introducing a young puppy, have a friend handle your puppy on leash as you approach with your dog on a loose leash.

  • Feed treats to your dog as you focus your attention on him.

  • When your dog seems accepting, invite your friend to carry the puppy into your home.

  • If you’re concerned about your dog’s reaction inside your home, buy a playpen or crate ahead of time and place the puppy in it as you continue to react with your dog as though the puppy were not there.

  • Stay calm as the dogs interact and keep your attention focused on your resident dog. If any altercations happen, side with your resident. It’s normal for him to “put the puppy in his place,” using seemingly dramatic postures. Stay calm and let them work it out.

  • If you’re introducing an older puppy, bring the two to a neutral area, either on long lines or free if the area is fenced in. Let them greet each other and then let your resident dog lead the new puppy into the home.

If you’re earnestly concerned that your resident dog may harm the puppy, muzzle him or keep hold of his leash to enable easy interference. You can also call in a professional to walk you through it.

Introducing your puppy to cats

Most cats would prefer to live without a puppy in the house. If you have a confident cat, he’ll probably wait stoically for the puppy to approach close enough for him to give the pup a solid bat on the nose. Keep your responses low key. Overreacting can put all species on edge.

Following are some suggestions to help the introductions go smoothly:

  • Place the puppy in an enclosed room or crate (with a special chewy for diversion) and let your cat wander around the room at his own will. Don’t try to influence or interfere in your cat’s reaction. If your puppy starts acting wildly, however, step in to calm the puppy.

  • When your cat behaves nonchalantly around the puppy, place your puppy on a light drag lead and bring the two together in a small room. Hold your puppy’s lead if he acts up and divert him with a toy.

    Don’t be too surprised if your cat growls or bats at the puppy. Correcting the cat will only make matters worse. Your cat is defining his space, which is a necessary boundary for coexistence.

If your cat can’t come to grips with the idea of sharing his home with a puppy, keep the two pets separated until your puppy is acclimated to a leash and collar and can understand the concept of “No.”

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