Introducing A New Pet To Your
a new pet to a household can be easy or hard
and successful or not successful, depending
on how the introduction is done and on the
temperaments of the animals involved.
Irregardless, there are things that
you can do to make the process easier and
general, introductions should be done in a
Also, using positive reinforcement,
in order to make the introduction an
enjoyable experience for all, will help the
realistic about your expectations.
Do not expect the animals that you
are introducing to be best buddies from the
get go. Expect that you will need to move slowly.
Even with that, perhaps the animals
will never become best friends.
Perhaps, with time, they will only
learn to tolerate each other.
An older animal that has always been
alone with her family may not learn to buddy
up with a new animal.
On the other hand, a new puppy or
kitten may just love having a companion.
Introducing a new cat to resident animals is a process that should
be done as slowly as needed.
In the beginning the newcomer cat
should be confined to one room with her
litter box, food, water, toys, bed and
Let the resident cats get used to the
scent of the new cat through the closed door
You can then feed the cats on their
respective sides of the door, putting the
dishes as close to the door as they will
When this is going well, you can
start to open the door just a crack so that
they can see each other.
If one or the other animal becomes
upset or aggressive, backstep a bit and try
the process again more gradually.
in mind that new cats should be confined to
their own rooms for the first 2-3 weeks
after you bring them home anyway to allow
them to become comfortable in their new
surroundings and to watch them for any signs
of disease or illness that could be
transmitted to resident cats.
Once your new cat is using her litter
box and eating regularly, you can let her
have free time in the house while the
resident animals are confined. This will allow the resident animals to become used to the
scent of the new cat without meeting
can also get them used to each other’s
scents by moving blankets, towels or toys
that have the scent of one animal to the
room of the other animals.
You can also put these things under
or next to the food dishes.
if the introductions are slow and smooth
enough, the animals will barely notice when
the time comes for them to live together.
You should avoid any situations that
evoke intense fear or aggression. Mild forms of these responses can be expected, but they
should not be allowed to intensify.
If these intense responses become a
habit, they are difficult to break.
If intense fear or aggression are
noted, you should backtrack on the
introduction process and proceed more
Introducing a cat to a dog has its own set of unique challenges.
Dogs can kill cats, even without
intending to do so.
For that reason, you muse be very
vigilant in introducing dogs and cats.
In addition to following all of the
steps as mentioned above in the section on
introducing a new cat to resident animals,
there are other steps and precautions that
should be taken.
your dog does not already know the commands
“sit,” “down,” “come” and
“stay” you should begin working on them.
This is not only useful for new
introductions, but is important to the
overall well-being and sociability of the
the cat and dog are comfortable eating on
either side of the closed door, and have
gotten used to each other’s scents in the
manner described in the “Introducing a New
Cat to Resident Animals” section above,
you can attempt a face-to-face introduction
in a controlled manner.
Be sure that the dog is on a leash
and have him either sit or lie down and
another person sit quietly next to the cat
on the other side of the room, but do not
physically restrain the cat.
Both cat and dog should be offered
treats or, for cats, possibly catnip.
Lots of short introductory meetings
like this are better than a few longer ones.
Repeat this process until the cat and
dog are tolerating each other’s presence
without fear, aggression or other
things are going well in the same room, you
can allow the cat to explore the dog at her
own pace, with the dog still on a leash and
in a “down-stay.”
During all of this the dog should be
given treats and praised for being calm.
If you cat runs away or becomes
aggressive, go back to the previous steps
and repeat them.
that if the dog is always punished for bad
behavior when the cat is around, the dog may
begin to act aggressively toward the cat
because of that.
Be sure that good things (such a
treats) happen to the dog when the cat is
The dog should also be rewarded for
good behavior (such as coming when called or
sitting when instructed) when the cat is
may want to keep your dog on a leash and
with you whenever your cat is free in the
house during the introductory period.
Also, you should keep the dog and cat
separated when you are not home until you
are certain that both will be safe together.
If there are kitten or puppies involved with cat-and-dog introductions be
extra, extra vigilant.
Kittens may be very much in danger of
being killed by an energetic dog.
You may need to keep a kitten
separate from an energetic dog until the cat
well-socialized cat can usually keep a puppy
in its place, however a cat that is
especially shy or fearful may not be able to
In this case, you may need to keep
the cat separate from the puppy until the
puppy has matured enough and has learned
some obedience skills.
Introducing a new dog to a resident dog should also be done slowly
and in a manner that is as positive to both
dogs as possible.
Because dogs are territorial,
introductions should be done in a neutral
both dogs on a leash, you can take the dogs
separately to a park, neighbor’s yard or
other area that is unknown to both dogs.
We recommend that you take the
resident dog to the shelter to meet his new
During the introductory process use
treats and speak in a happy and friendly
tone to reinforce to both dogs that this is
a positive experience. Do not allow them to
sniff or investigate one another for a
prolonged period at first, because this may
escalate to an aggressive response.
After a short period give each dog a
treat in return for obeying a simple command
such as “sit” or “stay.”
Take the dogs for a walk and continue
with the soothing talk, treats and positive
for signs of aggressive or fearful behavior.
If you see these, interrupt the dogs
immediately in a calm fashion by getting the
dogs interested in something else.
For example, both handlers can call
their dogs to them, have them sit or lie
down and reward each with a treat.
Later try to introduce the dogs again
at a greater distance or for a shorter
period of time.
the dogs seem to be tolerating each other
well, you can take them home.
Continue monitoring them at home and
giving them each special attention and
treats until the introductory phase is over.
When introducing a puppy to a resident dog follow the steps listed
above for new introductions. Be especially
careful that you do not leave the puppy
alone with an older dog until you are sure
that the older dog will not harm the puppy.
Adult dogs who aren’t
well-socialized, or who have a history of
fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set
limits on puppy behavior by displaying
aggressive behavior such as biting, which
could harm a puppy.
Punishment does not work in introducing pets to each other and it
could make things worse.
If one animal is always punished or
reprimanded for bad behavior whenever the
other animal is around, the animal being
punished could equate punishment with the
presence of the other animal and begin
acting in an aggressive manner toward the
If you need further information or assistance we recommend that you
visit the Denver Dumb Friends League website
from which much of this information was
You can refer to http://www.ddfl.org
or more specifically to http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/catintro.htm
if the introductions are not going well,
despite the fact that you are using all of
the suggestions listed above, you should
contact a professional animal behaviorist.
The longer the problem continues, the
more difficult it is to solve.