Pets give us affection when we’re lonely and comfort when we’re not feeling our best and getting a new one can be a fun and exciting life change. But what do you do if you’re bringing a new pet home to an apartment that already has a pet-resident? There are a number of tips and tricks to help the transition go smoothly and encourage a pet friendship to develop, especially if you’re introducing two cats, a cat and a dog or two dogs that may not be well socialized.
1. Set aside an area exclusively for the new pet.
In an apartment, space can be limited, so you may have to get creative when you’re looking for an isolated area. A bedroom, walk-in closet or even bathroom may have to make due until the two pets become familiar with one another. Remember: this isn’t your new dog or cat’s permanent home, but it is necessary to set this temporary territory aside until the two animals have been introduced. Inside the room, you’ll want to keep all the essentials, including food and water, toys, a bed and a litter box if you have a new cat.
2. Keep the new pet away from the old pet as you bring it home.
If you have a large dog in your apartment that can’t be confined, have a friend take him for a walk when you bring the new pet in. If you have a small dog or cat at home, shut her in a bedroom or bathroom for a moment while you settle the new pet in.
3. Let your new pet out in his or her space.
Close the door to the new pet’s space and allow the pet to explore. Your apartment will be filled with the scent of the old pet, so it may take some time for the new pet to feel comfortable in this space. Don’t rush it. Let the pet build up confidence and security in his own time.
4. Keep them separated.
Keep the two pets separated from one another for at least a week. It’s best if they don’t see each other for this time. This lets your new pet turn his room into his territory and your old pet get used to the idea that the whole house isn’t in his domain anymore.
5. Introduce them by smell.
Give each pet a blanket or toy that the other pet has been using. Let them get to know the smell of each other. This is a critical step for pets that are unsure around other animals.
7. Open the door.
Open the door and allow the pets to explore each other on their own terms. Don’t force pets into the other territory because this can make the transition difficult. It may take a while for them to feel comfortable around each other, but if you take it slow, they have a much better chance at getting along.
8. Shut the door.
End the first introduction after ten minutes or so and close each pet back into their own territories. Don’t wait for things to get bad; end the session while the pets are still on good terms. Gradually, lengthen the amount of time you leave the door open until the pets are totally comfortable around each other.
Have a pet integration story? Want to share your sage advice? We’d love to hear from you – here or on our Facebook page! And as always, please consider adopting a pet from your local ASPCA or Rescue Organization (we got our dog from Copper’s Dream Rescue – check them out if you are in the Bay Area!).