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Introducing a New Pet to Your Home

Written by Shireen Abbasey Haynes.

As summer approaches, many people are inclined to introduce a new pet to their home.  The increased daylight hours and warm sunshine put everyone in a nice frame of mind.  The beautiful weather allows people to be more active outside too.  Springtime usually brings with it a kitten season and although not as dramatic in numbers, more puppies. At Rochester Animal Services, we feel that anytime is a great time to adopt a pet.  Many people are hesitant to adopt a new furry friend for fear of upsetting the home environment.

A rushed interaction between two pets can be disastrous. It can lead to fearful or aggressive behaviors.   The key to making this a smooth transition is time.  Here are a few key tips to ensuring that both the resident pet and the new addition feel safe and secure in the home setting.

  1. Set up separate quarters – A shelter is an overwhelming place for a lot of animals.  We recommend a shut-down period with minimal interaction to allow the animal time to decompress.  Separate quarters allow each animal to get to know each other by sight and smells without a lot of stressful interaction.
  2. Give it the ol’ sniff test – In the animal world, smells are more important than sight. Scents and smells can communicate a whole lot more to an animal than just a visual sighting.  Switch out blankets and bedding so that each animal can get to know the scent of the other.  After a period of switching out bedding, switch out the animals.  Let the resident animal explore the newcomer’s area and vice versa.  In a few days, you can move on to visual sightings.
  3. Now that they are used to each other’s smell, open the door so that they can see each other. Always do this under supervision.  There may be hissing and growling initially and this particular step may need to be repeated several times.
  4. When introducing a new dog to a resident dog or cat, follow the same procedure. However, keep the dog on a leash so that you can easily separate or provide correction for the dog safely.  (If you have adopted a new dog from Rochester Animal Services and have a resident dog at home, those two should have already met at a meet-and-greet prior to adoption.)
  5. Never leave animals unattended and unsupervised until you are completely sure that they will interact appropriately and not hurt each other. Supervised visits should occur regularly for an extended period of time until each animal is comfortable in the presence of the other.
  6. Repeat these steps as necessary. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back.  The most important thing to remember is that this is a process.

Following these tips will help lead to a safe transition for all family members.  By setting the proper tone and with time and patience, you will ensure success for everyone.  Thank you for choosing to adopt from Rochester Animal Services!