I received a call a few days ago from a woman who has just adopted a male German Shepherd Cross and was due to pick him up later that week. She was concerned as she already has an older female dog and a cat living in her home so needed advice on how to introduce them all with the least amount of stress. Here is what I advised her:
First of all it is important to have everything organized before bringing him home to help make his transition easier. Make sure you have all your necessary supplies such as a lead, collar and food etc and have a plan of action in place with your family as to who is going to feed, walk and take care of him.
It is always advisable to allow your older dog to meet the new addition away from your property so find a place that is neutral territory for both dogs and have both dogs on lead. Try to have someone else hold your older dog and it is important for everyone to stay calm and relaxed during the introduction. Idle chit chat and quiet laughter among the humans helps to make things easier for the dogs! There may be some growling and spinning around on the lead which can all be very normal but be careful if either dog shows signs of aggression such as lunging, showing teeth, barking and biting. If everything goes ok take them for a walk together to allow them to get better acquainted. Make sure your older dog doesn’t feel left out and become jealous so spend some one-on-one time with her also.
When introducing your new dog to your feline friend, firstly ensure that all doors and windows are closed to prevent either animal escaping. Make sure your cat has a safe place to run and hide if he chooses too. Keep your dog on lead during this time as if your cat runs away, instinct will mean the dog will make it a game of chase. Ensure you have good control of your new dog and if he tries to lunge towards the cat give a firm lead correction and tell him ‘no’. Do not allow your dog off lead in the house until you feel confident that he will not chase your cat, be patient as this can take several weeks. When he settles around the cat be sure to praise and reward him. It’s a good idea to offer your cat food and water in a place where he doesn’t feel threatened and your dog can’t eat it and put the litter box where your cat can use it in peace!
Once you bring your new dog home remember to give him plenty of exercise and maintain those house-rules and boundries!