35% of Canadian households have a dog and 38% have a cat. According to statistics from the 2007-2008 American Pet Product Manufacturers Association, nearly one-half of all dog owners own cats, and nearly one-half of all cat owners own dogs. It is 14 millions pets who have to learn to live with us and among themselves in harmony. Most often, things go well when the animals are adopted when they are babies, but as more people open their homes to pets, tensions arise when a new animal is subsequently introduced in the family. So how do you restore harmony in your household? Everything is in the introduction.
The best way to introduce pets to each other is a phased approach: help them gradually adjust to the presence of each other and then, after a few days, when it’s the time for presentations, distract their attention. Of course, you need to make a big show of equal affection to both animals during the process to avoid jealousy.
The first thing to do is to get them used to the proximity of the other pet, without letting them see each other yet. You can keep them in different parts of the house for a few days, while giving them toys and objects with the smell of the other pet so that they gradually become accustomed to its presence.
The second step is to put them in direct contact while distracting their attention so that they begin to cohabit without even noticing it. Depending on the personality of your pets, you can use toys or even their favorite treats, while being careful to be fair and not create any jealousy.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll see that a little patience goes a long way to create a peaceful home where your pets live together happily and enjoy having a companion who will soon become their second best friend…after you!
Note that this phased approach can also be used to introduce a new pet sitter to the household’s animals. Ask her to give you something personal before her first visit so that your pets get used to her smell. Then, when she shows up for the first time, put them away while you give her a tour of the house so that your pets can see that this new person is a “friend”.