You want a new pet, but worry about how your existing pet(s) will react. It’s important to introduce your pets correctly for a well-socialized, multi-pet home.

Dogs: Ensure they associate ‘good things’ with being around each other. Before bringing your dogs inside for the first time, let them sniff each other and talk in a happy tone. Take them for a walk together, stopping periodically to practice basic commands like ‘sit’ and giving them treats for positive, calm behavior. Trying to impose your own pecking order on dogs instead of allowing them to naturally establish their order can be confusing and lead to behavioral problems.

Cats: Gradual introduction is the key. Confine the new cat to a room and practice feeding both the new cat and other household pets on either side of the door. Next, switch out bedding between your pets, allowing them to get used to each other’s scents. Over a period of days, allow your new cat out of the room when you are around to supervise until there are no signs of anxiety or aggression in any of the pets. With patience and time, many animals can learn to co-exist, and may even become pals.

Never hesitate to contact a professional animal behaviorist if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pets’ behavior.