Dogs are sociable creatures and usually get on very well with other dogs, and with most other animals too. But it’s important to introduce them in the right way from the start to establish and promote long-lasting harmony.
Introducing a new puppy to your resident adult dog
- Before a new puppy comes home, make sure your resident dog's vaccinations are fully up to date.
- Outside is a good place for a first meeting. Take your puppy into the garden and let him have a good wander round to get used to all the new sights and scents.
- Put your puppy on a lead and then bring out your adult dog, also safely restrained on a lead and perhaps wearing a head-collar if he is large or excitable. When the puppy approaches keep the leads loose and calmly tell them both they are good dogs, ignoring any whining or barking.
- Reward calm, restrained interactions with gentle strokes, calm words and perhaps small treats. Even if either dog gets over-excited, stay calm yourself to set an example. If they refuse to calm down, separate them for a while before trying again.
- Frequent short introductions will work best, and they should soon be the best of friends. Then you can allow your resident dog to ‘invite’ the puppy indoors. Keep both dogs on a lead until the pup has had a good look around and the resident calmly accepts him without reacting. Continue to reward acceptance and tolerance with calm praise and small treats.
If you have any concerns about the process, ask for help ahead of time from your local dog trainer or discuss the matter with your vet. To find a vet or trainer near you, search our Directory for dogs.
Introducing another adult dog to your resident dog
If you're introducing an older dog to a resident dog, don't assume they'll make friends straight away. Let them get to know each other gradually on quiet neutral ground away from home and ideally in a place that is unfamiliar to either of them.
- Keep both dogs on leads and possibly head-collars if they are large, nervous or excitable and allow them to investigate each other.
- If they start to growl or bark at each other, separate them immediately and wait until they calm down before trying again.
- If, after many such attempts, they still refuse to get along, you could contact a professional behaviourist. Ask your vet for a recommendation or search www.capbt.org for a behaviourist in your area.
Introducing your new dog to your cat or kitten
If you’re introducing a new puppy or dog into a home with a resident cat, you’ll need to give the cat time to get used to her new housemate. Many cats who don’t already live with a friendly dog will react to the arrival of one by hissing or swatting at him, or may try to escape by running or hiding. A few may also begin to spray urine to mark 'their' territory, but this should stop once they have got used to the new arrival.
- Your first aim is to help both pets relax in each other’s company. Make sure your cat or kitten is safely housed in an indoor pen and that your new dog is safely restrained on a lead.
- Reward your dog when he is calm and stay calm yourself throughout, even if he barks excitedly.
- After five minutes or so, take the dog away and let your cat leave the room for a break.
- Introduce them in this protected manner in a variety of rooms several times a day so that they get used to seeing and smelling each other
- Once they are calm and relaxed, allow the cat to walk out of his pen or basket but keep your dog on the lead. Stay calm, encourage tolerance and friendly investigations, and continue repeat introductions in as many rooms as possible on a regular basis.
- Supervise them until you know they will get along and only let your dog off the lead in the cat’s company once you’re sure that he won’t react or try to chase her. Make sure your cat has access to nearby high surfaces out of the dog’s reach.
- Separate cats and dogs at mealtimes so both can eat in comfort and to prevent them from stealing each other’s food.
- Make sure your dog does not have access to your cat's litter box because as a scavenger, he may consume the contents
- Make sure your cat gets plenty of opportunity to chase, stalk and pounce on moving toys so that he leaves your dog's tail in peace!
Don’t worry if your dog and cat don’t become best friends. Cats are often naturally independent and may just ignore your dog even once they’ve accepted his presence. With time, though, most do become friendly, even if it is very much on the cat’s terms! As long as each has their own space, which for the cat includes having access to high surfaces out of reach of the dog, everything should work out fine.
The most important consideration is safety. Seek professional advice from your vet if your dog is persistently excitable or aggressive around the cat and discuss a referral to a specialist canine behaviourist. To find a vet near you, search the Dog Directory.