Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Introducing a New Pet to the Family

Written by CP's Blog Intern

We all love animals. Many of us have more than one pet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one whose ever brought home a new addition to the family and realized that the newcomer was unwelcome!

Animals are a lot like people: You can’t always predict who will like who. What makes a dog hate a cat? What makes a cat love a dog when the rules of nature seem to forbid such a friendship?

There is, in all likelihood, no easy answer to these questions. Perhaps it’s sight, smell, genetics, or a combination of these and more aspects of animal psychology we’ll never understand. Who would have thought that my burly male tabby cat would love my new kitten, but his affectionate and much smaller sister would loathe him? When I introduced him, barely the size of my palm, to my dog I was more concerned with whether she would try to swallow him whole than with whether they got along or not.

Turns out she had some latent maternal instinct and not only did she like him, she took to shepherding him around the house as if to make sure he didn't get into any trouble. Now that he’s a little bigger they’ve even taken to rough housing!

To me, the most important thing is demonstrating that the new addition has your approval. You are, after all, the dominant figure in the household (or you should be, at least with your animals). If they see you accept the newcomer, they will feel more at ease to as well.

Second, be sure to foster curiosity, but not jealousy. This is a tricky balance, because a new addition will be scared, nervous or inquisitive and will naturally need more attention. You need to be sure you don’t ignore the companions who were there before. In fact, don’t change your treatment of them at all to assure them that things haven’t, and won’t, change between you.

Finally, we come to the actual introduction. Don’t just throw your new arrival to the proverbial wolves on day one. Give them a day or two to acclimate to a single room, a safe haven they can call their own, then gradually let them smell your other animals through a door. This lets them get familiar with one another.

Play the rest by ear. Do they seem excited to see each other? Nervous? Dependent on their reaction, the actual introduction may take a day, or up to two weeks. Be sure to foster a positive environment for them to meet in, ie during a session of mutual play where they learn to associate one another with good feelings.

Most importantly: love your current pets, your new arrival and your old friends.

Please click here to see all of the cairns presently available for adoption.

No comments: