When you bring home your dog from the shelter, there are lots of new things to learn about. The dog may feel overwhelmed at first because they have to get used to a new home, new people, and occasionally other pets. It’s important to take your time in introducing your dog to other pets in your home. If you go about it the right way, there’s a good chance you’ll have a big, happy, furry family as a result.
Introducing Your Dog to Your Cat(s)
In most cases, cats and dogs can live together peacefully. It’s important to understand that some dogs are very aggressive towards cats and may never be able to live with a cat. However, most of the time the shelter staff already knows when that’s the case and won’t let you adopt a dog like that if you have cats.
Certain rules must be followed when putting cats and dogs together. Your cat needs to have a safe space where the dog can’t get to it. The litter box, cat food, and water dish must also be out of reach for your dog. Dogs don’t have any qualms about eating your cat’s food, and they may even ambush a cat in the litter box. Keeping these things away from the dog in a private place ensures that your cat won’t relieve itself elsewhere or doesn’t get enough to eat.
When you first introduce your new dog to your cat, the dog should be on a leash. At first, you just want the dog and cat to be in the same room with each other. Pet them, talk to them, praise them, and give them treats. If your cat is skittish, you may want to keep her in a carrier. You want your dog to stay calm around the cat without bolting towards them. Use commands like “sit” and “leave it” to make sure the dog leaves the cat alone.
If your dog stays calm for several days, you’re ready for the next phase. This is where you can let go of the leash, but you still must be prepared to grab it. At this point, your dog may approach the cat. You can expect the cat to swat the dog on the nose, and that’s often all it takes for the dog to leave the cat alone. If your cat is still a kitten, has been declawed, or is otherwise unable to defend itself, you may need to exercise more caution when you make the introductions.
Meeting Other Dogs in the House
Introducing your dog to other dogs in the house is an important step you need to take. Some dogs are really easy-going and like almost every other dog, but you probably don’t know that ahead of time. There are different ways to introduce dogs to each other, but one of the methods is the exchange of smells.
For example, you can use old shirts you no longer use and let you established dog sleep with it. Then you’ll take it to the shelter and let the new dog sleep with that same shirt. You can do the same thing in reverse for the established dog to help both get used to the other dog’s scent. Before they meet, you can exchange the shirts and have the dogs wear them. The same thing can be accomplished by using a pheromone spray. The goal is to help them familiarize themselves with the smell and make them like each other before they even meet.
When you introduce the dogs, it’s a good idea to do this on neutral territory. The best way for two dogs to meet is to go on a walk with each other. In the beginning, you want to go single-file and have one dog follow the other with adequate distance. Eventually, if they show signs of wanting to play together, you can take a walk next to each other.
It’s a good idea to keep your dogs separate while you’re away until their relationship has become established. Incidentally, putting your dogs in separate rooms or crates will also reduce the likelihood of them making a mess of the house while you’re gone. It may be necessary to keep the dogs apart for the first day and only have them meet for 20 minutes at a time. During that time, the new dog may need to stay confined to one room of the house.