Patapsco Valley View
Volume 19 July 2014
Introducing the New Kitt (or Pup) in Town
Okay, so you probably have dreams of bringing home your new puppy or kitten (or older rescue pet) and having the rest of the family just ’fall in love at first sight’.
However, if your family includes four legged family members you have to plan for some disagreements.
First step… ’baby’ proof your house. Kittens and puppies (and even some older pets) chew on things including clothing, furniture and even electric cords, so prepare a place where your new pet will be safe from himself.
Second step… Protect the rest of your furry family by determining that the new baby is healthy and free from any diseases that he could share with the other inhabitants, including the human ones. Have your new pet’s stool tested before they share a litter box or back yard with the rest of the family. Many kittens and puppies come infected with intestinal parasites that they get from their mothers, and you don’t want them sharing these with the rest of the family.
Have your kitten or cat checked for Feline Leukemia and FIV, two very dangerous diseases that can lead to illness and even an early death. Let your veterinarian do a complete physical on your new furry baby so that you know that they are free of respiratory viruses that can run rampant through your household, infecting your other pets.
You will also want to make sure that your new dog is free of Lyme Disease and Heartworm Disease, and this can be done with a quick blood test right in your veterinarian’s office.
So, once you have a healthy start, make sure that you have the proper supplies. You will likely want to have a crate set up for your new dog and a separate room set aside for your new cat to get acclimated to the new surroundings. Have a place for your new pet to stay that does not encroach upon the other furry residents’ sleeping or dining arrangements. Don’t just enter the house and expect everyone to be super happy with this hyperactive pup or growling kitty.
Most pets like having company, but they also like to have their OWN space, so make sure that the new pup or kitty doesn’t wander into your family pet’s ‘den’ by accident and cause an upheaval. In time, your lonely ten year old may think that the new guy is the answer to their prayers, but take it easy and slow. Give your older pet time to get used to the new one, and make sure that you start teaching the new pet the rules of the house. Be patient, firm, and consistent.
Many dogs sleep in their owner’s bedroom, and many others sleep in their own crate in the family room. In fact some dogs prefer to have their own getaway space. So don’t make the mistake of teaching your dog that the crate/cage/run is a bad place. Your pet needs to feel comfortable here. To get him used to the cage, toss some treats inside and close the door behind him for a few moments while you watch TV in the nearby. If your dog whimpers, try to ignore the emotional heart tug. Then, when he is quiet, let him back out. Do this multiple times a day until you can leave the dog inside for a few hours at a time. Remember to leave your pet something to chew on or play with while he’s inside so he doesn’t feel like he’s being punished.
Make sure that your new pet gets plenty of exercise so that he’s not so ‘revved’ up that he frightens the older or smaller pets.
Take time introducing the new pet to the rest of the family. Let the ‘family’ get to examine the new pet’s surroundings while he’s out on a walk, and then alternate and let the new pet sniff around the premises.
Enlist a friend to escort the new arrival home so that your pets aren’t confused by your lack of loyalty.
Expect some barking, some cat cussing, and don’t be surprised if there’s a swipe across the nose of a nosy pup. As long as your pet is not aggressively attacking or in danger of injury let him meet the ‘newbie’ on his own terms. Make sure that all parties have their own space and give them time. New roommates can take some getting used to.