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Introducing a new pet: this is how you do it!

31/01/2024 Upbringing & behaviour Dog Cat

Een nieuw huisdier introduceren doe je zo!

Het verwelkomen van een nieuwe viervoeter in je huis is een spannende, maar ook uitdagende tijd, vooral als je al andere huisdieren hebt. Het creëren van een harmonieuze dynamiek tussen je geliefde viervoeters vergt tijd, geduld en strategie. Laten we dieper ingaan op de stappen die je kunt nemen om deze overgang zo soepel mogelijk te laten verlopen. Patricia, hondengedragstherapeute van Smiling Dogs geeft ons alvast enkele tips mee!

The power of familiar scents


Scent plays a crucial role for your pet. Introducing the scent of your new friend's nest to your other pets before they meet can reduce initial stress. This ensures that they are not completely strangers to each other when they first meet one another.

It is advisable to bring a blanket or toy from the little one's nest home before he or she actually arrives home. Let your other pets smell it, giving them the opportunity to get used to the scent before your new four-legged friend arrives.

Getting to know each other step by step


The first encounter between your new four-legged friend and your other pet(s) is a crucial moment. Consider bringing your other pet(s) along when you pick up your new family member. Only do this if you are certain that your pet can remain calm in the presence of other animals.

A neutral spot, such as the front garden or a driveway, provides a relaxed environment for first introductions. Here, the animals can approach each other in a calm manner without territorial feelings.

The art of controlled encounters


When introducing pets to each other, it is crucial to maintain control of the situation. Start with a (possibly leashed) meeting in a quiet place where your other pet is not constantly present. Allow them to sniff each other and closely observe their behaviour. If the introduction outside is successful, gradually bring the introduction inside or to another area in the house.

Ensure that both animals have enough space to move and observe their interactions. If there are signs of tension, it's better to take a step back and slow down the introduction.

Create a relaxed environment at home


If the initial introduction outside or in the first location is successful, gradually bring the introduction inside or to another area in the house. Provide enough space so that everyone feels comfortable. It's crucial to create quiet spots where both the newest resident and your other pets can retreat if they feel overwhelmed.

Gradually introducing the new animal to your existing pets is of great importance. It can reduce the stress and uncertainty that may arise when a new dynamic emerges. Remember, each introduction is unique and can take time, so be patient and respect your pets' pace.

What if things don't go smoothly?


Sometimes introductions don't go as planned, and that's nothing to worry about. Here are some steps to consider if the introduction is a bit more challenging.

Take a break


If the previous steps don't seem to be working, it's advisable to keep the pets separated and only reintroduce them under supervision. Give them time to get used to each other by engaging in activities where they all feel comfortable. This can range from quiet moments to playing with each other, but always keep an eye on them to avoid any conflicts.

Safety first


Sometimes an older pet may become stressed by the new situation and react aggressively to the new resident. In such cases, it may be wise to use a temporary solution, such as a muzzle. The purpose of this is not to punish your pet, but rather to create a safe environment where both animals can get used to each other's presence. This should always be done under supervision.

Patience and Guidance


It is of great importance to exude confidence, be patient, and individually guide all pets. Each animal has its own pace and needs during this transitional period. By adopting a supportive and understanding approach, you can reduce stress and tension and create a positive environment in which the animals can gradually get used to each other.
Introducing new pets can be a challenging process, but with the right approach and dedication, you can promote harmony between your pets. Give them time to get used to each other and stay alert to their signals and needs. In the end, patience and careful guidance will be the key to a peaceful and happy bond between your beloved pets.


With thanks to Patricia from Smiling Dogs for her valuable contribution to this article. Her expertise as a certified dog training and behaviour coach has helped provide valuable tips and tricks for working from home with pets.

In a nutshell

Introducing the scent of your new friend's nest to your other pets before they meet can reduce initial stress.
If the previous steps don't seem to be working, it's advisable to keep the pets separated and only reintroduce them under supervision.
Give them time to get used to each other and stay alert to their signals and needs.