How to Introduce New Pets

Even the most gentle pets have trouble accepting a new pet. Introduce new pets slowly and under supervision.


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    Research the realistic compatibility of your new pet being housed with your old pets, preferably before you select your new pet. In addition to predator/prey relationships, some animals can be very territorial and aggressive towards members of their own species. Learn what you can beforehand and you'll have a better idea of how much peaceful interaction you can expect your animals to have.
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    Consider the personality of your current pet or pets. Think about how your pet acts around you and around other animals.
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    Give your new pet as much time as possible to adjust before meeting your current pet. Moving into a new home is enough of a challenge without the added stress of meeting your other pets. If you can, set aside a room for your new pet to stay in for the first few days.
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    Keep your current pet's schedule as normal as possible. If you are going to house your new pet in a separate room to start with, restrict the current pet's access to that room well in advance so the change can feel more gradual. Make sure your current pet still gets all the time care and attention he or she is accustomed to.
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    Look for "pre-introduction" opportunities. Give each animal items with the scent of the other animal on them. Allowing the animals to smell each others' scent before they actually meet can help make the face to face meeting easier.
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    Introduce animals slowly and for small periods of time until they are well adjusted to the sight and smell of each other. Use a crate, child gate, or a leash to control the animals during the interactions. Try to keep the animal who has the most potential to hurt the other one under direct control, either through a leash or a crate. Give the animal that is more likely to be frightened a safe haven where the other pet cannot reach him or her.
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    Reward good behavior. Remember that not all animals are going to be friends, so even disinterest is positive. Offer praise, treats, toys, and affection to promote good interactions
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    Supervise closely. Don't just throw your animals together and go watch television. Pay attention to the way they interact during different times of the introduction.
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    Be patient. Animals need time to adjust to each other, especially if your old pet is older and the new pet is a baby. It might take months before your animals really begin to accept each other.


  • Frequent interaction is not necessarily going to work for all pets, but they can still share a house if precautions are taken. Your cat may always want to chase your hamster. You can still have both as long as the hamster is safe in his or her cage and can come out for exercise without the cat being in the room.
  • Make sure you have adequate space and housing for both animals to live separately. Though you may intend for the animals to share a room or cage eventually, this may not be possible right away, or ever. Even animals who get along quite well may not be willing to share their "dens".
  • Keep it positive. If you're constantly correcting one animal during an introduction, that animal will come to associate the other one with negative things. Remove an animal who isn't behaving from the situation and go back to scent-only introductions or put the animal somewhere secure so the bad behavior can be ignored.
  • These same steps can be used to introduce a new animal to small children. Keep children and the new animal separate until the new pet adjusts to your child's voice and movements. Research age appropriate pets for the age range your children are.
  • Make sure training you intend to use when introducing the animals, such as a crate, leash, or muzzle, is introduced ahead of time. You don't want to be putting a muzzle on a dog who's never worn one before and add to this new and possibly uncomfortable experience by having her meet the new cat for the first time.


  • Never leave two animals together unsecured and unsupervised unless you are certain they are ready for it. One animal could seriously injure or even kill the other.
  • Some animals will simply not get along no matter how much you try. For these situations, you'll have to make a choice. Can you keep everyone safe and without stress or does your new pet need to find a new home?

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Categories: New Pets