Wednesday Wellness: Introducing a New Member to Your Pet Family

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There is no moment more exciting than making the decision to add on to the household, whether a baby or pet. In many ways, adding a pet can be just as monumental of a decision as well. However, if the right accommodations aren’t made it can be a real nightmare.

Introducing a puppy into your world is like bringing a newborn infant into your family. It’s important to make the baby feel like he or she is a part of the family, while making sure the older siblings don’t feel neglected. In this way, helping a puppy feel at home when they’re uncertain of their surroundings is essential. At the same time, we need to remember to give assurance and adequate attention to our loyal older companions who think they should still be the baby of the house.

Adding a new pet to the family can be a smooth transition for everyone if the proper accommodations are made. Here are some helpful tips to keep order and sanity in your quest to have multiple pets living in harmony.

Choosing the right pet

If you decide that adding another four-legged family member to the household would be beneficial, it’s important to choose a proper pet. For instance, if you have a cat and decide you want a dog, there are obvious circumstances to factor. Do some experimenting by introducing your cat to a few dogs in a controlled environment and see how she responds. If she passes the test, research which dogs generally co-exist well with a feline roommate.

Some types of dogs might not be up for a new roommate, interspecies or not. Take the time to research what dog breeds generally have a relaxed demeanor and will get along with another.

Remember to consider your living space. When browsing through litters of adorable puppies, consider accommodating the beast they will eventually morph into. If you and your current pet have a smaller living space and already step all over each other’s feet, adding an 80 pound lab to the mix might not be fun for anyone.

Also, consider what type of breed personality best fits your situation. If your current pet resident is an over the hill senior, who enjoys long walks and peaceful sunsets, he might resent your decision to turn his world upside down by adding an energetic Jack Russell terrier puppy to the household.

Properly socializing the new play-mates

It is very important for current and new pets to properly get acquainted with one another and learn what behaviors are acceptable. Obviously, it’s a must to house train the new pet and show them the law of the land. Aside from daily routine, let the new pet siblings get comfortable with one another through fun activities. Getting used to the changes will be less stressful if the newly introduced pets can associate one another with dog park adventures and going for walk.

For the first few days of interaction, allow the pets to socialize in their own special way, but always be there to facilitate if needed. This is a great opportunity for pet parents to draw the boundaries for inappropriate interactions such as playing too rough, growling, or showing dominance.

Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s

By preparing for every possible circumstance and being fully equipped to accommodate the right pet for your household, you will be helping your own cause. We in the pet community know that curiosity and quality time together is a recipe for germ spreading between our animals.

Don’t wait until it is too late to wonder whether it’s safe for your new family members to be mingling. Have your current pets checked and up-to-date, prior to the big day and pick your vets brain to formulate a game plan for the newly arriving pet.

Have a general idea for a pet area. If you don’t specify a good place for them to interact, they will make the decision on their own, turning even the best pet bonding experience into a nightmare for you and your living room. You can also try setting up a special play area that won’t break your heart if things get knocked around or making it clear that horseplay is only to be done outdoors.

Choosing to invite multiple pets into the household is not a calling for everyone. If you decide that your pet has a hole in his heart that only another hairy, butt sniffing companion can fill, be wise and take careful consideration in properly acclimating a new family member to your world.

Photo courtesy of LaurenKates

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