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Welcoming a New Companion Animal to the Family.

When we ponder the idea of adding another furry member to our family, there is a planning process to follow. Taking the proper steps, and considering all factors, will help to ensure this is a positive and low stress experience for your existing companion animals.


 How much time will your new animal require? Are you interested in adopting a puppy or a kitten? They’ll require a lot of time and a lot of patience while they learn the expectations of living in your home. They’ll need a consistent schedule in order to be successfully house trained, and if adopting a kitten, have access to several litter boxes throughout the home. Kittens are born with strong instincts, and most will naturally use the litter box. Your new baby would appreciate breakfast, lunch and supper at consistent times each day. You must seek out a veterinarian to care for your juvenile animal throughout their lives. Kittens and cats are safest inside your home. If outside, always leashed and supervised. Most cities have strict bylaws that prohibit animals from roaming freely. A microchip provides permanent identification should they accidentally escape. Dog tags are available to purchase from the HSHPE and are valid for one year. Puppies are very susceptible to many hardy diseases that can live in our environment for weeks, and some, even years! Avoid dog parks, and areas heavily trafficked by other dogs, until your puppy is up to date on vaccines. Once vaccinated, arrange puppy play dates with other friendly, and sociable dogs. Always supervise these interactions. A scary experience will stay with your pup a long time. Puppies are typically very submissive to other animals in the home and fall into their role quickly. Try and make interactions fun, if you have a standoffish animal, create some awesome experiences when they’re in close proximity. High reward treats, play time, and grooming are some ideas.

Looking to adopt an adult dog, as a companion to your existing dog of similar age? Have them meet on neutral turf. This way you’ll avoid any aggression over territory. Keep dogs on leash and if possible have them meet through fencing during the initial visit. If all goes well proceed for a walk together, continue keeping the dogs apart, stopping now and then to allow them to sniff one another. If you’re giving treats, ensure dogs are separated- and have no food aggression. Leave on a high note- end all interactions in a positive way. Dogs adopted from HSHPE must first have a scheduled meet and greet with existing dogs in the home, prior to completing the adoption process. Our staff is trained in reading a dogs’ body language and can predict if there is potential for a pawsome friendship.

All went well during the first meet, now to prepare the home. Ideally, you will have a spare room/ basement area where the dogs can be separated but still smell one another under the door etc. When the dogs are together, make sure they are always supervised until you’re sure they’ve acclimated to each others company. Feed the dogs separately and watch this as well. Some dogs have food aggression/ guarding issues that can lead to unsolicited fighting. Start the dogs off in separate rooms, and day by day move the dishes into the same room. Your dogs don’t have to touch shoulders while they eat, play this by ear, you’ll want to set up separate feeding stations to avoid any squabbles over food.

If adding a new cat into your home much of the same advice applies. Supervise interactions, make sure they’re positive and the animals are comfortable. Separate new animals when they first arrive to give everyone time to adjust. If you have blankets/ bedding you can swap out with each animal, this will help them to become accustomed to their new roommates’ scent. Slow initial interactions, watch body language to gauge how comfortable everyone is.  Hissing is typical, and acts as a warning. Do not punish cats for hissing at one another. This is normal behavior, and displays discomfort experienced by the cats. Offer some treats, and give everyone some space.

When adopting small animals, make sure they’re housed somewhere out of reach of cats/ dogs in the home. Their cage/kennel should be generously sized, and placed in an area free of drafts. There are many fun enrichment toys for all of your animal needs at your local pet store! Do your research before committing to small animals, reptiles, aquatic animals or avian species. Each one has unique care requirements, and varying life spans.

Making friends takes time, be patient, remain hopeful and give us a call if you’d like further guidance! We’re always happy to help!