Introducing A New Pet
Bringing a new pet home is an exciting prospect, but it can still require some adjustment for you and for him. A little planning, however, can help to make this a smooth transition for both of you! Here are a few things to consider:
Before He Arrives
Timing: If possible, plan the homecoming for a time like a weekend when someone will be home all day with the new pet.
Pet-proofing: Be sure to lock away toxic products like chemicals and medications, as well as other things like human food, breakable objects, plants and small objects like jewelry.
Vaccination: Arrange a vet visit for him to have any necessary vaccinations before bringing him home – especially if you already have pets.
After He Arrives
Pet-to-pet introductions: If you already have a pet, confine the newcomer to a separate room with his own supplies. This allows you to watch for any developing illness that could potentially transmit to other pets, and also lets the newcomer acclimate to his new home. Additionally it prevents fighting while all pets become accustomed to each other.
Hopefully after a couple of weeks, any initial signs of aggression or fear between the newcomer and resident pets should be gone, and you can begin introductory meetings. These must be carefully managed, however:
With smaller pets, it is useful to gradually introduce the newcomer in a crate, allowing resident pets to sniff around him. Once these meetings are tolerated well, open the crate door so that the new pet can come out when he feels comfortable. Keep dogs on a leash at this time.
With larger dogs, initial face-to-face introductions are best accomplished on neutral territory, maybe at a park, with each dog restrained on a leash.
Gradually increase the duration and frequency of introductory meetings until pets can tolerate each other full time.
Pet-to-people introductions: Everyone will be excited to visit your new pet! For the first few days, however, while he acclimates to his new home, it’s wise to restrict his introductions so he doesn’t become overwhelmed or fearful (or even aggressive). This will allow him some time to bond first with you and any immediate family members in the household.
The great outdoors: As soon as you are happy that he is disease-free and acclimating well to his new home and family, you can continue his socialization by gradually introducing him to public places, parks, or unfamiliar pets.
Overall though, with all aspects of the acclimation process for your new pet, be as patient as possible. Slow and steady definitely wins the race!Written by Dr. Parry ©July 19, 2011
Dr. Parry is a veterinarian working at MIT.