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Introducing New Pets

25 February 2014

Bringing a new pet into your home is a joyous occasion for the whole family. You may have been searching for just the right pet for weeks and then one day on the KHS website you come across the perfect match. You go down to meet your potential new family member, put a hold on her and then go prep the house.  You probably bought new food and water dishes, food, treats, bedding and a crate or litter box. You have puppy or kitty proofed, set up pet sitters and researched the KHS Pet Resorts as a place for doggy daycare or boarding if you even have to go out of town. You have set up an appointment with your vet for a new pet check up and now its time to go pick up your new baby. You have been looking forward to this event for days or even weeks and now that you’ve found your New Pet, the whole family is excited as a kid on the first day of summer! You bring New Pet home ready to start the next chapter of your lives and as soon as you walk in the door, Fluffy, your current pet runs and hides at the first sight of New Pet. Heartbroken, you wonder if you made the right choice or if you will have to take New Pet back to the shelter.

It may take some time for Fluffy and New Pet to get used to each other, but it is very possible to have them co-exist and even be best of friends. In order to provide both Fluffy and New Pet with as stress free of an adjustment period as possible, use the following guidelines:

 Prior to bringing New Pet home, set up a quiet safe room for New Pet where she can spend some time getting used to the house and your family. This will be a space where Fluffy is not going to be allowed right away. Set up her food and water dishes, litter box or puppy pads, crate, scratching post and bed.

 If possible, take Fluffy with you to meet New Pet prior to bringing her home. If bringing Fluffy to the shelter isn’t possible, make sure to arrange a neutral location meet and greet spot prior to bringing New Pet home. Parks, pet stores, or even the other side of the street in front of your house makes good neutral meeting spots. Make sure there is enough room for both dogs to have space or walk away if they get stressed.

  •  When you get home take New Pet to her safe room and allow her some time to relax. Closing the door will keep Fluffy out of the safe room but allow her to smell New Pet through the bottom of the door.
  •  Feed New Pet and Fluffy on opposite sides of a closed door. This will allow them to associate the new smell with something good (food), therefore new smell must be good.
  •  After a day or two, allow Fluffy and New Pet to time share. Put Fluffy in New Pet’s room and allow New Pet to explore the house.
  •  If there are no signs of stress, fear or aggression from New Pet and Fluffy while they are separated, allow them to start to see each other and spend supervised time together. If either pet gets stressed, it’s okay to separate them again and give more time.
  •  If you think this process isn’t progressing properly or the new family members aren’t getting along, call a professional trainer or behaviorist for help.

This process can take 2 weeks or more to fully integrate a new pet into a household. Take things on the pets’ schedule and don’t force it. Some pets will become best buddies right away and some need more time. Any time the pets get into a fight, it can cause the progress to stall or even move backwards so slow and stress free is the best pace.

For additional tips call the free KHS Pet Help Line at (502) 509-4738 (4PET).

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