Spread the Love: Strategies for Safely Introducing Your New Pet to Family Members

Kids playing with a puppy on the ground

Bringing home a new pet is one of life’s greatest moments, but it’s not always free of stress, confusion, and chaos. While your new pet is new to you, everything in their new environment is foreign to them and it takes time to make sense of it all. In addition to slowly revealing parts of their new home that they can freely access, you should develop a plan to slowly present the people in your life. Introducing your new pet to family members can easily go sideways, but not with our safe strategies for a positive outcome. 

Controlling Exposure

A newly adopted pet has a lot to learn. Without a careful system in place, they can quickly become overwhelmed. There is a learning curve for everyone involved, but it can take several months for a newly adopted pet to fit into their new routine. When given the opportunity to learn trust, pets develop confidence and security.

Getting to Know You

A new pet should be contained in a smaller section of the house until they demonstrate mastery in their latest environment. In the same way, introducing your new pet to the various people you’re close to should not be done all at once.

Sizing Them Up

Recognizing animal body language goes a long way toward understanding how your new pet may be feeling. Of course, they are unique and have their own individual preferences. However, some responses to stimuli are universal among their species. 

Again, when you allow for a significant “getting to know you” phase, you can slowly begin to understand how your new reacts to various things. They will begin to take cues from you. If you are tense and worried about how they’re transitioning they will likely not be able to relax enough in order to successfully settle in. Stay calm, patient, and encouraging to move ahead together.

A Word About Kids

Introducing your new pet to children is a huge deal. Kids are usually excitable and may have a hard time lowering their voices, restricting unpredictable movement, and reducing the reach of grasping hands. Inevitably, pets feel nervous in this situation (especially if they’ve never been around kids before, or had previous negative encounters). 

Children must understand that the new pet is a bit scared. 

  • Encourage everyone to sit on the floor together
  • Have some healthy treats to help build positive associations
  • Keep the first few meetings short, and build up the opportunities over time
  • Supervise at all times
  • Keep your pet leashed the first few times, and be consistent with commands like “no”, “down”, “heel” and more.

Introducing Your New Pet Around Town

Socializing pets isn’t easy to do in the era of social distancing, but it should remain a high priority. Introducing your new pet to your family members is important (provided you can guarantee that it will be a positive experience), but it is equally encouraged to have them meet all sorts of people.

Other Fur Balls

Introducing your new pet to other animals is necessary, especially if they’re all going to live in the same house! 

  • Try to find the most neutral place possible
  • Keep them separated by gates or cracked doorways
  • Keep the tasty treats flowing
  • Don’t push them to be best friends
  • Be sure that everyone has a safe space to retreat to

We wish you luck when introducing your new pet to their new world. If we can assist you with any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital

posted in:  You & Your Pet