It’s two hours post adoption, and you just finished shopping for all your dog’s new furnishings. It’s time to take Sparky home, but you’re not sure how he’ll do in his new environment. You have another dog, and that’s also a concern, how will they get along? SPCA’s policy is that you must bring in your current family dog(s) to guarantee there is a connection between them before the adoption is complete. After the adoption and to ensure a smooth transition for Sparky, it’s best to introduce him to his new home separately from introducing both dogs together in the home at the same time. In most cases, it is ideal to introduce him to the dog first, in neutral territory. Take them on a walk together, side by side, and let them get familiar with each other in a non-threatening way. Dogs, unlike people, don’t like to greet each other face to face and we should never force this type of introduction if we want to be successful. Once both dogs are comfortable with one another, take them inside the house together, letting your family dog go in first. Now you are ready to introduce Sparky to the rest of the house and family!
For Sparky’s entertainment, put your other dog in another room or outside temporarily so Sparky can explore without distractions. Be sure to keep Sparky on a leash as you lead him around, because allowing too much freedom in the beginning can give Sparky the wrong idea about the rules of the house. If Sparky does anything you deem inappropriate, take notes on these behaviors and present them to your behaviorist when you begin the training process. Once Sparky has gotten to see all the areas of the house that he is allowed, take him outside and let him get to know the yard. If your yard is secure, you may take Sparky off of the leash to let him explore. Now all Sparky needs are daily walks around the neighborhood so he learns where home is and stays mentally and physically fit.
If you decided to adopt a cat versus a dog, you may already know your new furry friend is a bit more sensitive than her canine counterpart. Cats get stressed which can make them susceptible to diseases. It is very important for the health of your cat to introduce her to her new environment appropriately to avoid any negative reactions.
Make Fluffy’s new bedroom a sectioned off area of the house or even just one bedroom, bathroom or laundry room. Be sure to provide Fluffy with a litter box, food, water, bed, and toys. By limiting Fluffy’s access to the house, you are helping her learn where her litter box is and where her belongings will be kept. You are also allowing her to claim and get comfortable in one area and preventing her from getting lost in the rest of the house. After a few days, start letting Fluffy explore outside her room a little bit at a time until you can see her becoming more comfortable. If you have other cats or even dogs, provide lots of surface area for Fluffy to climb. Such as cat towers, shelving designated for the cats, bookshelves, or any other high-up spot. Fluffy will get to know the other pets in the house from up there and will learn to communicate with them through body language as time goes on. Most cats are not completely accepting of other pets, but by providing lots of lounge areas, most can learn to cope.
Both cats and dogs can learn to adjust to new environments on their own, but there are steps we can take to help make the transition easier on them mentally and physically. Show Sparky the ropes by leading him around on leash, and let Fluffy get comfortable in short exploratory sessions.
Dusty Robinson, Canine Manager, SPCA of Northern Nevada