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First Impressions Count

How to encourage love, rather than hate at first sight between your new and old pet.

So you want a new pet - this is a lovely idea for so many reasons. But hold your horses! Before you run out and snaffle the first cute fur (or feather) baby that you see - think about a few things first.

1. Is your pet a social animal?

and by this mean would the species you are interested in live in groups naturally. With dogs we can be confident that this is a yes. Dogs are very well adapted to live in groups and have a strong repertoire of communicative signals to diffuse potential conflicts (although this doesn't always mean that every dog is sociable). But what about cats? Cats will often tolerate living in groups and some may form bonds (share beds and groom one another). However, they are not thought to be as sociable as dogs and many do not do well in groups. A lot of problems seen in multi-cat households can be attributed to social stress. Some bird, fish or reptile species may live in groups, whereas others prefer to be solitary. Whatever species you are considering, research how they would normally interact with individuals of the same species. It may save you some heartache.

2. What is your pet's temperament like?

Do you have a confident animal that will eagerly explore and interact with new individuals? Are they perhaps a little overconfident? Or, are they shy? Think about this when looking for a new companion. Certainly introducing a shy animal to a very bold one is setting yourself up for a difficult start. If you can, try to find a pet that you think will be a good match for your existing pet's personality.

3. Where do you plan to introduce them?

When introducing two new animals, care should be taken to introduce them on neutral ground (so far as you can). If you are unable to do this, you need to give both animals space and escape routes if they feel they need to move away. In addition, you need to plan how you can separate them if need by in a safe way.

It is a good idea in the home to ensure that each animal has access to all the resources that they need (food, water, bedding, toileting area) without needing to share with, or pass the other pet. This will help to avoid conflict, even with animals who are happy to share.

In addition, when they are meeting for the first time it may be best to ensure that no high value resources (toys or food) are involved.

Equally important in when they meet. If you have had a very long journey or your pets are tired then it may be best to postpone the meeting until both are feeling less stressed.

4. Time out is good

Don't rely on your pets to tell you when they need a rest. Meeting a new pal is very exciting and they may get over-excited and tired. With animals (as with children) this is when they can get irritable. If you think your pets may be getting over-excited then separate them, give them some rest and try again later.

5. Last but not least

Have fun! So long as you don't have an animal that is very protective of toys then play is a wonderful way to bond. Also, make sure you have lots of space on your phone or camera - because you are going to need it! Here is one of Inca and her new buddy to leave you with ;) all tired out from their games together.

Sleepy dogs!

As always, please feel free to leave comments and share. If you would like to get in touch and discuss your own pet (or pets) then please feel free to use the contact page or send a message via social media @PetMindUK

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