You may have heard lately that pet adoptions are on the rise. It’s true, thanks to social distancing. With more people remaining home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a greater interest in animal companionship. It has been an exciting time for shelters, pounds and adoptions centers of all sorts.
Of course, these happy moments come with their own set of responsibilities and hurdles to jump, but few, if any, are too high to overcome. If you already have pets and decide to add another to your family, you’ll be faced with the possibility that your current and new furry family members might not get along — well, no right away.
Never fear; introducing new pets to current pets is most often a matter of care, patience and perseverance.
Managing expectations is a must. Even if your new pet lived with others in the past, or has lived with others in the place from which you adopted, that doesn’t mean everything will go well immediately at home. Expect barking, growling and hissing in the beginning. There may even be some marking of territory. Prepare yourself and your home for these possibilities.
Prep the Home
Find a space for your new furry friend that will belong only to him or her, temporarily. Make it comfortable with all the things they need to situation themselves, and make sure there’s plenty of space to wander and soak in a good amount of the home.
Give your new pet a chance to explore the rest of the home, too. let your pets switch places—put your old pets into the room you designated for the new one, and put your new pet into their space. Not only will your new animal get accustomed to the rest of the home, but all pets can take in the new smells.
Make Changeable Barriers
Don’t put your new pet and current pet together immediately. Rather, place a barrier between them that, while preventing physical interaction, allows them to hear and smell one another. Even that may be enough for some friction to happen, but that’s okay. Over time, they’ll be come accustomed to those sounds and smells. You can also feed the animals on either side of the barrier; when animals eat, they’re vulnerable. So, once they’re comfortable enough to chow down while knowing the other is near, you know you’ve made progress.
Later, you can change the barrier; if it was a door, for example, make it something durable, but see-through, now. That way, they can get accustomed to the sight of each other.
Eventually, you’re new pet and old pets will get used to each other. Don’t assume they’ll be best friends — that’s another part of managing expectations — but have plenty of hope that you’ll have a peaceful home where everyone feels safe and loved.
Open your home to a new pet, if you can. There are still plenty of pets in need of homes during this COVID-19 crisis. PetVet Hospitals offers free exams for the newly adopted.