This week, I’m answering another question submitted by a reader, this time about adding new companions to the family.
Hi Dr. Llera,
My husband and I have two children, and they have been asking for a dog for quite some time. We wanted to make sure it was the right time for all of us, and we’ve decided we can definitely handle bringing a dog into the family, especially now that the kids are a bit older and more mature.
We looked into breeds, decided we wanted a King Charles Spaniel, and finally found a breeder we like and trust who is having a litter in the fall. We’ll be bringing our puppy home then!
My husband has experience raising dogs, and we already have a vet lined up, as we have a cat… which is where my question comes in: Are there any steps we can take or tips you have for bringing a dog (a puppy, no less) into our home that is already home to our cat?
We’re really excited to bring this puppy into our lives, and any advice you can share would be great!
Thanks in advance,
Hi Holly and congrats on the decision to add a furry member to the family! It’s never a decision to be made lightly, and I’m happy to see you doing some research beforehand. Every situation is different, so what I may suggest may not work for every pet loving family.
- Slow introduction – It may be tempting to give the puppy free roam of the house, but kitty was there first and may not appreciate the invasion. Especially when getting new cats, I suggest keeping the one in the bathroom (with all the necessities) for them to smell each other under the door and rotate them out so the new member can explore the house without focusing on the other pet. Dogs may be a little easier, in my opinion, as they may be more people oriented and may choose to not fixate on the cat. In this case, I do advocate for crate training as a means of giving the puppy some time away from the cat and it can also help with house training. Allow them to have smelled each other and become familiar before letting them have free reign together. When the time comes, keep your puppy on a leash (this prevents lunging at the cat and a fear reaction from your cat) and reward them when they are calm.
- Escape plan – Cats may like to be up high and they love to be able to escape from danger, whether that be predator or hyperactive, friendly puppy. Make sure your cat has a safe place they can get to such as a book shelf, cat tree, or other place that the puppy will not be able to get into or corner your cat. This allows your cat to observe things while still feeling safe and he or she can hopefully become a ‘non-event’ in the home until your puppy learns that the kitty belongs and needs its own space.
- Aromatherapy – I’m not talking about scented smelly things that make you feel great, but pheromones that your veterinarian can recommend can help in providing a calmer or relaxing environment to reduce stress.
- Alone time – Make sure to keep spending time with your cat to try and keep things as normal as they can be!
I hope these tips help, but be sure to talk with your veterinarian as the puppy arrives and the situation changes so that things don’t get out of hand. Enjoy your new addition!
– Dr. Ryan Llera
If there’s something you’ve often wondered or questions you have about regarding pets, let us know by email at [email protected].
*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.
Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at www.DRRYANLLERA.com, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.