A New Friend for My Anxious Pet
When you love animals, it's hard to have just one. In the beginning, you might have planned on having only one pet. But then you met that lovable stray, or your friend suckered you into visiting an animal shelter, and it was too late. You just had to have another pet. Whatever the reason, now you own a new pet and you have to introduce it to your current pet, who probably won't be too happy. So what do you now that you have a new friend for your anxious pet?
Considerations for Both Pets
First, you must understand that this introduction can only go so well. Your pets will not experience love at first sight and be best friends forever. Getting along will take time. Also, it is important to remember that all animals have individual personalities, so some may fit into your household better than others. Take this into account when you are picking out a new pet to help smooth their transition into your household.
When you bring your new pet home, give the new pet and your current pet their own separate spaces in the house. You should keep them apart at first, when possible. Try to spend an hour a day with each pet separately. Watch them for signs of anxiety and stress, such as:
- Loss of hunger
Make sure your pets have time to adjust to the new situation while providing them comfort and love.
When your pets seem comfortable, put your new pet in a different room and allow your current pet into the new pet's room to learn his scent. You could also give the current pet something with the new pet's scent on it. The next step is to allow the animals to smell each other on opposite sides of a door. If they are comfortable, you could allow them to see each other while still remaining physically separated. Each pet is different, so the pace with which you move through these steps will vary. It is important to have patience because anxious animals can be more aggressive.
The First Meeting
When your pets are comfortable smelling and seeing each other, you can move on to the next step: bringing them together in a neutral room. It is helpful to have two people for this step. This way each of you can play with a pet and give them treats to reassure them and help create a positive association with the other animal. If you have dogs, you may need two people to stop aggressive behavior. If the situation deteriorates, you may need to separate the animals and bring them together at a later time.
At first, only allow your pets to be together under supervised visits until they are comfortable with each other. This may take hours, days or weeks depending on your animals. The important thing is to remain patient and proceed with caution so your pets can be as comfortable and happy as possible throughout the experience. A note for dog owners: Dogs create their own social order between themselves, so make sure that both dogs remember that you are the top dog. In the end, your animals may become best friends or they might just get along. It's ultimately up to them, but by trying your best to facilitate a healthy relationship, everything should work out just fine.
Photo Credit: SeeMidTN.com