How to help your pets get along
Things to consider before hand
Personality or Breed
All over the web there is some debate regarding what to consider when introducing a new pet to your single-pet home. Whilst some claim that the breed of animal is the most important factor, others swear by personality! So, what should you consider? The reality is that a mixture of both will ensure you a peaceful home, besides, can you really consider one of these factors without the other?
All pets have a unique personality but typically there are general traits associated to specific breeds, Jack Russells are known to be territorial, Labradors; friendly and Bengal cats are talkative. If you are looking to introduce a new pet to your home, take the personality of your current pet into consideration and then look into which breed would be most similar.
A nice introduction
Parents of multiple children will tell you that the moment two siblings are introduced is one of much anticipation and careful planning. This same rule should apply to the introduction of your pets.
However, unlike human siblings your pets may find it difficult to grow to love their animal sibling. Naturally, animals are territorial and don't want to feel as if their space is being compromised, so always aim to make the introductory process as smooth as possible.
Firstly, try introducing them in a neutral space. This will help reduce any territorial feelings and if tension begins to arise, make sure to intervene before it escalates as a bad first interaction may be hard to rectify.
During the introductory stage a toddler safety gate is useful for keeping your pets separate. If you should leave your pets home alone ensure they are left in separate rooms. If you are introducing your pets and at an infant stage take extra precaution by using a crate.
Scent swapping is key when introducing a new pet into your home. For many pets, particularly dogs and cats their sense of smell is essential for navigating their environment.
Before pets meet, try introducing both pets to each other's smell by swapping bedding and toys between the pets.
4 Tips for improving your pet's relationships
1. Creating a pleasant environment
As a pet owner it is your responsibility to set the tone for your house and how your pets should behave. Your pets should have their own space, especially if there is a mixture of animals under one roof. Try creating separate areas for each pet in different rooms.
2. Prevent quarrels
Try to prevent conflict between your animals by having separate places for their food, water and toys. One of the main conflicts that arise between animals is over food. Try to enforce scheduled eating times and place their food in separate areas of the house. When tensions arise, always intervene immediately, diffuse the altercation and try make each pet feel relaxed. If you see no improvement in their communication speak to your local vet, as continuous negative interactions are not healthy for both the pets or owner.
3. Reward good behaviour
Positive reinforcement involves giving incentives for good behaviour, encouraging similar behaviour in the future. Positive reinforcement can be used for pets that are responsive to training e.g. dogs, cats and rabbits. This method is great when introducing pets or changing undesirable behaviour. For example, rewarding your pets for friendly interactions or even for no interaction at all.
4. Let it come naturally
Ultimately, do not force it, let it build naturally. Forcing your pets to spend time together may not have the result you hoped for and it's also not the safest option. Gradually they will form a bond that will continue to grow over time, remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!