Getting to know you and your pets
Watch for cues about how your pet is feeling, and take that into account when you interact. If your pet seems timid, try to move slowly, or just sit in the same room reading a book and let your pet come to you. If your pet is full of energy and ready to play, get out the toys right away. But be cautious. Pets can be both scared and full of energy. Modify your actions to make your pet feel welcome. The care you take with your own behavior in the early days will pay off in the future as your pet learns that you are someone to trust.
The run of the house – don’t rush it!
Many animals coming from the shelter have been in a cage or kennel for several days before arriving at your home. To have the run of an entire house can be overwhelming, especially if it happens too fast. Resist the temptation to let your dog run loose in the house during this first week, especially if you have other pets. Give your new dog a week or more to settle in and feel comfortable with her new environment.
If your new puppy or dog seems comfortable and relaxed, meaning not hiding and is willing to come to you for affection and food, you can provide access to other areas of your home. If you have other pets, skip to the section on introductions. However, if your new dog is your only pet, you can give him the chance to explore. Before you begin, be sure any off-limits areas (basement, attic, garage) are not accessible, so the first big tour doesn’t end up in a frantic search.
Try introducing your dog to other parts of your house while on leash, so you can provide understanding of where and where not to go. On your first tour, walk around each room and let your pet sniff everything. If your pet tries to jump on something off-limits, calmly redirect him to an appropriate area. Pet or play in these accessible areas to associate these locations with positive things. Depending on your dog’s nature, you may need to give several “guided tours” on a leash before your pet understands how to behave in the house and which areas are accessible. Puppies should stay in a limited area in your home where you can supervise them until they are house-trained.
Some animals respond very well to an expanded living area. Others become frightened and retreat. If your pet seems more nervous now that you have given more access to the house, slow down the introduction process to match comfort level. Some dogs feel safest in a relatively small area, only willing to explore other parts of the home if you accompany them. Every animal is different. Get to know what your pet prefers and try to support those preferences.
Introducing your new dog to resident pets
If you already have pets at home, you are no doubt looking forward to a happy, harmonious relationship between all your animals. Follow the guidelines listed here to give everyone the best chance for a lasting friendship.
A word before starting: when introducing dogs to one another, first impressions matter. How the dogs interact in their first few encounters can set the tone for their entire relationship, so care must be taken to set everyone up for success. Throwing them together in the back yard and letting them “work it out” can lead to heartbreak (if the integration fails) and occasionally serious injury. Follow these steps to help both dogs get to know each other slowly and carefully.
Despite the stereotype of “fighting like cats and dogs,” many adopted dogs learn to live peacefully with resident cats, whether puppies or adults. The most important thing for adopters to know is that this adjustment is a process, not a one-time introduction. Care must be taken to introduce dogs and cats slowly, making the process as stress-free and pleasant as possible. Adopters must then be prepared to manage their pets’ interactions for the next several weeks, if not longer. Follow these steps to ensure the best chances of success.