If you're considering getting a new puppy, then it may be worth thinking about how you will introduce them to your current pets.
A smooth, well thought out transition may be the best way to increase the chances that your new and existing pets get on well when they meet.
Here are some of our top tips for introducing your new puppy to your existing pets.
Safety When Introducing Pets
An introduction may be more successful if you try to ensure the safety of all of your pets.
When introducing a puppy to an older dog, it could be important that both of them are up to date in their vaccinations.
Some vets recommend waiting until your puppy is 16 weeks of age before introducing them to other pets.
The timing for introductions may also depend on when each of your pets had their last booster vaccinations.
You may also consider getting all of your pets insured before introducing them, in case of any mishaps. Pet insurance for 2 dogs or more could be helpful to any multi-dog household.
Everypaw offers multi-pet insurance policies that could be suitable for a multi-pet home.
Where To Introduce Pets
It may be worth finding a neutral place for the introductions to take place.
Letting your pets get to know each other in a neutral area could help your pets feel at ease and might prevent any territorial issues that may arise.
Introducing your pets outdoors may be a good way to find neutral ground for your pets, provided that your puppy is old enough and has all of their vaccinations.
The First Meeting
You might take some steps to ensure that your dogs are calm and happy when they meet for the first time.
You could help calm your pets by speaking soothingly to them, remaining calm yourself or giving them treats.
If your dogs do get overly excited, you might consider separating them for a short amount of time to allow them to time to calm down.
You may consider having both of your dogs on leads for the first meeting, and you could have a friend help by holding one of your other pet's leads.
This might help you to keep control of the situation and may help the process go smoothly.
The first meeting may only be a short one. It can help to introduce pets gradually and let them set the pace, so you might consider having a short five minute introduction at first.
A shorter first meeting may be helpful when introducing your puppy to cats in particular.
Bringing A New Puppy Into Your Home
Once your pets have had their first meeting, you might consider your next steps.
It could be a good idea to have a separate area for your puppy for the early few days or even weeks.
This might help your pets become accustomed to each others' scents, and may help make the transition easier.
Keeping your new puppy and existing pets separate could also be a good way to prevent any territorial issues between pets.
You could ensure that all of your puppy's toys are new and specifically for them, which might help avoid any rivalry.
The First Few Days
Once your puppy is in the home, you could watch over their interactions with other pets.
Keeping an eye on your pets may help you be on hand if they need separating or further intervention.
It may be best to feed your pets separately until they are familiar with one another.
Some animals can get defensive when eating so keeping your pets separate could help to prevent this.
While watching your pets' interactions, you could also use praise or treats to reward good behaviour.
Rewards may help them to associate friendly behaviour with good experiences and could improve your pets' relations.
Dealing With Aggressive Behaviour
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things may go wrong when introducing a new and existing pet.
There are some steps that you could take to mitigate the likelihood of this, and there are some things that may help you deal with any fighting or other aggressive behaviour from your pets.
It may help the situation to remain calm yourself.
Dogs can be very perceptive of our moods, so if you get upset or angry with your pets' behaviour, then this may escalate the situation.
It may be best to separate your pets if any of them display any aggressive behaviour.
Close observation of your pets' behaviour may also help prevent any negative behaviour before it could go too far.
Allowing Your Pets Time To Themselves
The first few days of your pets getting to know each other could be a stressful experience for them and for you.
It may help after an early introduction to separate your pets and allow them some calming alone time.
Giving your pets time to themselves could be helpful even after the first meeting between pets or as an ongoing practice.
Getting used to a new animal in the home could be stressful for any pet, and a move to a new home can be difficult for a puppy.
Allowing them time to relax and de-stress apart from each other could be valuable in helping your pets begin a good relationship.
It may be helpful to have a space where each pet could retreat to and be undisturbed. A dog cage or crate might be a good idea for this.
You could fill this space with warm and comfortable things that your pets might enjoy.
Spend Quality Time With All Of Your Pets
A new pet may be an upheaval to your household.
You could help all of your pets get used to the change by separately spending time with each of them.
Quality time with your pets may help to soothe any anxiety and could promote a happy environment for all of your pets.
You might wish to spend time with each pet stroking or playing with them. You could also talk to your pets as a way to soothe them.