The Importance of Introducing Your Dog to Other Dogs or Cats Safely

Female petting her pets

There may come a time when you are ready to introduce another pet into your home, such as another dog or cat, but you’re not sure whether your dog will enjoy the experience. Or you may simply want your dog’s social interactions when out for a walk or at the dog park to go a little smoother without worrying if your dog will react negatively.
Regardless of the situation, first impressions matter when introducing animals to one another, and it’s important for the safety of all animals involved that your dog feels comfortable approaching and greeting – or being greeted by – other pets to avoid any unpleasant reactions or injuries.
Patience and consistency are the keys to introducing animals for the first time, but there are a few simple steps you can implement right away to help put you and your pup at ease in no time.

Tips for Introducing Two Dogs

Introducing two dogs to one another may seem like the simplest greeting of all, but often times even a subtle difference in personality or temperament can throw the whole connection off. Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Introduce dogs slowly and carefully to prevent conflict or injury.
• Keep the meeting territory neutral.
• Leash both dogs and take them for a walk, keeping at least 10 feet between them to get them used to each other’s presence without causing too much of an interference.
• Wait a couple of minutes while they sniff each other and then call them away. If they start to play, let them interact a little longer. End the session on a good note.
• At the next session together, let the dogs meet at home. Start in the yard before moving indoors and make sure the resident dog is out in the yard before bringing your new dog inside, to prevent a negative reaction.

Dogs playing together

Additional tips for all one-on-one dog interactions:
• Keep all visits short and pleasant with enough space and a toy or two handy to make sure both dogs feel comfortable and are able to be distracted if needed.
• If tension arises, separate the dogs immediately and try again a little later.
• Keep dogs separated while you are away to prevent fighting or injury.
• Reward good behaviour and continue to manage the environment to prevent conflict from arising.

Tips for Introducing Dogs to Cats

Introducing a dog to a cat, or multiple cats, can be a very different experience than with other dogs. It’s helpful to consider these tips whether you have a cat, are planning to bring one into your home, or you’re visiting someone else’s house with your dog who may have a cat:
• If possible, have your dog meet a dog-savvy cat that belongs to a friend/relative/shelter to see how he/she reacts. If you aren’t able to do this, bring your new cat home and introduce them slowly to the environment, allowing them to explore first before bringing the dog around.
• Over the course of a few days, rotate which animal has freedom to roam and which one is confined to let them get used to each other’s scent.
• Once both animals are calm, you can move onto leashed introductions.
• Keep your dog leashed and allow both animals in the same room for a short period of time. Keep doing this until no aggression is displayed on either side and both animals are relaxed around each other.
• At the beginning when you’re out of the house, make sure both the cat and dog are confined to separate places.
• When both animals seem comfortable, allow unsupervised time together.

Tips for Introducing Dogs at the Dog Park

When taking your pooch to the dog park, keep these guidelines in mind:
• Make sure your dog is up to date with all shots and vaccinations.
• Teach and continue obedience training at home to prevent your dog from misbehaving.
• Expose your dog to a leash-free area without letting them in. Allow them to simply observe the other dogs.
• Visit the park in ‘off-peak’ hours so there will be less dogs and give your dog the opportunity to explore the space and smells.
• Read your dog’s behaviour. If they are scared or aggressive, remove them from the situation.
• Be prepared with water and poop bags for scooping waste.
• Reward good behaviour if your dog has a positive reaction to the above.
Have any questions about introducing your dog to other pets or need some extra advice? Contact The Dog Market for all things dog related, including supplies, grooming and obedience training!