There’s a valid reason that the internet’s supply of cat memes and dog videos are seemingly endless: pets are the best. The fact that some animals let us love them and (usually) love us back tenfold without judgement—how lucky are we?
Once you’ve welcomed one furry companion into your home, it’s hard to resist the desire to bring in more. And as long as you follow the right steps, you shouldn’t have to hold back! Adopting a pet gives an animal a chance at a full and happy life, plus brings more joy into your own life as well. We’re totally all for that!
Just like a toddler might have trouble initially when bringing home a new baby sibling, it’s not impossible for the cohabitation to go swimmingly. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind to help ensure a smooth transition when adding an additional pet to your household.
Regardless of what you may have heard, there are no set rules about good matches since all animals can vary so much based on their individual personality. So consider anything you’ve heard about female and male dogs, older and younger dogs, puppies, cats, and certain breeds mixing well or not together as an exception, not a rule.
Consider your current pet’s personality
When you think of your pet’s play style, energy and socialization level, and playmate preferences, you’ll be able to get a sense of how best to approach bringing a newcomer into the picture. Additionally, if bringing in a new dog or puppy, you’ll want to consider the most effective training method for their learning style.
Do it gradually
Think of your pet’s attitude towards other animals and people in general. Do they usually take a minute or two to warm up to strangers? If possible, try to bring around your new pet a few times for introductions before the official move-in. Lindsay Wood, MA, CTC, director of animal training and behavior at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, in Boulder, CO recommends walking your dog and the potential new dog together. This sort of low-key activity allows the pups to get used to each other while doing something fun in a neutral space. If the walk goes well, you can then try taking the dogs to a safe, fenced-in area to relax and interact.
Plan for double
Double the kisses, play, food, patience—you name it. Whatever it takes to love and care for your pet now, get ready to double it when you bring another on board. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of stressing out due to the additional finances and responsibility, possibly neglecting both of your furry loves.
Cesar Millan has some great tips for those specifically planning to add a new canine to a home where there’s already a dog. This Prevention article is also a good resource for those looking to bring a cat into a dog home or vice versa.
Regardless of the amount of preparation it takes, rest assured that the companionship of more loving, furry playmates at home will be worth it!