Adding a second pet to the family? We’re here to help! We’ve put together some tips for ensuring a smooth transition from a one pet household to a two pet household.
When adding a second dog to your family, it’s important that your pup is involved in the process. There’s no guarantee that they’ll get along with every dog they meet, so you want to make sure that they have a “say” in who their new family member will be. Of course, you can narrow down the options by taking into consideration things like size, age, and energy level, and finding new potential pups that you think would be a good match.
Once you find a pup that you think will be a good fit for your family, you can start to think about introductions. You want the first introduction to be low key, in a place that is neutral for both of them. For example, you could bring them to a park and go for a walk, providing lots of Freshpet treats and praise for good behavior. If all goes well, you can all head home together.
Even if the initial introductions are a bit rocky, there’s no reason to worry. Some dogs take a bit more time to warm up to than others, and this completely normal. Slowly continue with the introductions while integrating your pup into more and more of your normal daily routines – patience and lots of positive reinforcement are key. It can also help to reach out to a professional trainer who can provide customized guidance after observing your dogs together.
When your new pup is home, it’s important to keep things equal between the new dogs. It can be easy to give extra focus to an exciting new family member, but this could cause jealousy in your other dog. In fact, you might want to consider giving them a little bit more attention while they settle into the new normal of their home.
This space should be quiet and have everything they need – litter box, food, water, toys, and a comfortable place for them to sleep. Spend time getting to know your new cat here and go at their own pace. Some cats may feel at home right away, others may take weeks or months to settle in.
Once your new addition has begun to settle in – this means they’re eating well, using the litter box, being social when you’re around – you can let them explore a larger portion of the house. When you do this, it’s best to keep your resident cat secured in another room. While your new cat explores the new area, they will come into contact with the other cat’s scent without direct contact. Additionally, you could exchange their toys and bedding each night.
After a few scent introductions, you can slowly start with the face-to-face ones. You want your cats to have positive associations with these introductions, so a great time to do them is during mealtime. Place the cat’s bowl on either side of a door and continue with this for a few feedings. If everything is going well, try opening the door a crack so they can see each other while they eat.
If these initial introductions go well, you can start to have regular supervised hangouts where the cats can move around the home freely. Start with small amounts of together time and slowly work your way up until both cats are comfortable and you feel ready to leave them together unsupervised.
Every cat is different, so keep a close eye not only on the new addition but your resident cat as well. There is a chance that one cat will start feeling comfortable sooner than the other and that’s okay. If this happens, stick to the schedule of the cat who is least secure, and move slowly until they’re both happy.
Introducing a second dog or cat to the family might take a little bit of work, but we have a feeling that you'll get far more than double the amount of enjoyment in the end.