An old black lab and a Jack Russell puppy.

When you think about bringing home a new pet, you may worry about how your resident pet might react. It is totally possible they’ll welcome a newcomer, but what if they don’t? You could be creating a stressful situation for at least one animal, if not both. The good news is that there are tactics that take everyone’s feelings into account in order to safely introduce a new pet to your existing one. 

An Adjustment Period

Even if you’ve been thinking about adopting another pet, the process of introduction must be handled slowly and with care. Keep in mind that your resident pet’s home is about to feel smaller and a little foreign to them. 

A newly adopted pet has many new challenges ahead. It can be tough to meet all their needs with the ways your current pet might be interpreting this surprising turn of events. 

Your New Pet

Set up your new pet in a safely contained room. Over time, you can open the door a little bit so they can meet. Separated by a baby gate, give both pets lots of encouragement, rewards, and praise for meeting their new roommate. 

This situation allows your resident pet to have free reign of the house (like before), and more importantly, a perceived upper hand. Be sure to keep your resident pet’s routine the same as always, and give them opportunities to burn off steam. 

Remember, this is a gradual process that can take several weeks. Rushing through these crucial moments can inhibit the trust you must build. 

Beyond the Sniff 

Once your new pet shows they are relaxed inside their room, allow them to slowly explore the rest of the house. Keep this experience light and rewarding for both pets, and return the new pet to their room if tensions climb. Your new pet might feel more secure if they’re attached to a leash and led by you. 

Switch up a couple of items. For example, take the blanket your new pet has been sleeping on and place it where your resident pet can smell it. Likewise, take an item with your resident pet’s scent on it and place it with the new pet. Give each animal rewards and praise when they smell the item to build a positive association.

Your Existing Pet

If your resident pet shows distrust of the new pet, or displays any stress around the introduction, you can help them in these ways:

  • Separate their toys and treats from the new pet’s stuff
  • Do not allow the new pet to take over your resident pet’s space
  • Keep interactions on neutral territory (if possible)
  • Limit interactions to just a few minutes at a time, only increasing their time together when they demonstrate acceptance

Managing Pet Behavior

Training your new pet will have numerous benefits, one of which is definitely how they negotiate the new relationship with your existing pet. They need to understand their place on the social ladder, and positive reinforcement training is a great way to learn new skills. 

If you need additional support when introducing a new pet to your existing one, please give us a call at  (732) 531‑1212.