When a puppy meets your other pets
Particularly after this weekend, Spring feels a long time away. However, it is only a month away and at this time of year, many people feel ready to take on a new puppy.
If you already have a pet, carefully introducing your new puppy into the home will allow them to form strong friendships from the start.
An existing dog will probably have had the house to themselves, so a new puppy will come as a bit of a shock. Make sure your own dog’s vaccinations are up to date and ideally your puppy should already have started their course of vaccinations.
Have your puppy on a lead and initially put him in the garden to have an explore. Bring out your adult dog on a lead or even a head collar to prevent lunging and let them have a sniff and get to know one another. Ignore any whining or barking but reassure them both that they are good dogs and let them satisfy their curiosity with loose leads.
If the dogs get overexcited, gently stroke them to calm them but if too boisterous, separate them for a while and only reward good, calm behaviour. Allow your older dog to lead the puppy into the new home and give your older dog some freedom from the pup. Keep them both on a lead until they are relaxed inside the house. When your puppy gets too excited, separate them and reward your older dog with a walk or separate play time.
When introducing a puppy to an existing cat, the important consideration is the safety of both. Your cat should be able to escape unwanted attention and your puppy should also be on a lead to prevent overexcitability. Cats may often respond to a new puppy by hissing it and swatting it. Most dogs learn to be wary of a stressed cat, but cat scratches can be dangerous around the eyes, so make sure you give your cat plenty of space from an exuberant puppy.
Always keep the puppy on a lead to introduce it to your cat and do it in short, five-minute meetings. If your puppy is too excited, take it away and allow your cat to leave the room quietly. Your puppy should be on the lead until your cat feels confident to walk around it and only let the puppy off the lead when you are sure it won’t chase your cat. Ensure your cat has a high spot or outdoor escape route if necessary.
Your cat’s food bowl should be away from a puppy (or any dog) and always keep the litter tray out of reach. Disgusting though it is, puppies love to eat cat poo.
Your dog and cat may never become true friends, but many cats will tolerate a dog in the household - though very much on its own terms.
Remember, never rush introductions, allow animals to investigate each other and cute though they are, puppies can be very annoying to older animals, so remember to give them some down time too.