You met the person of your dreams. You both have dogs. Or maybe they have a cat and you have a dog. You love their pets, and they love yours. The relationship is getting serious.
So how do you get the pets to get along?
Here are a few tips on how to help new animal friends share a home and family.
In Serious Situations, Call An Expert
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For dogs, there are a few things you can try, but first and foremost, if there’s been a fight and blood has been drawn, get a professional involved.
Bites that break the skin mean someone was very upset. Similarly, if you are really afraid of a serious fight, talk to a local trainer or behaviorist.
For Dogs, Meet On Neutral Territory
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Meet somewhere where neither dog will feel more vulnerable or more in charge, like a park or trail. Do a lot of parallel walking on leash with lots of treats, but don’t let them greet on leash right away.
This is just a matter of getting accustomed to the other pet being around without being a threat or an annoyance.
Try An Off Leash Meeting
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After a few walks where both dogs seem to be relaxed, try an off leash meeting.
Look for comfortable tails and loose body posture where they are not constantly eyeing the other dog.
Dogs like to sniff and circle each other. If they cannot comfortably do that, a greeting can become very tense. Also some dogs are more aggressive on leash because they feel restrained.
Before You Remove The Leash
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Make sure your meeting place is securely fenced in and free of other dogs, dog toys, and food. Dogs can start fights over toys and food.
Walk the dogs on leash around the area to give them a chance to feel comfortable. Then let them off leash.
It’s okay if they don’t immediately run up to each other. The goal here is to get them comfortable in each other’s presence, not immediately to be best buds.
Call Your Dog To Come To You
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Call your dog to you periodically, and give them a yummy treat. Definitely call if things start to look tense.
The idea here is for the dogs to spend more time together with nothing bad happening. They can make positive associations, like treats, with the presence of the other dog.
Keep These First Meetings Short
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An hour is sufficient time for the first few meetings. Quit these sessions while things are still fun and happy. Don’t wait too long and risk a squabble.
After a few successful sessions, you can try meeting in someone’s house or apartment. Before entering the home, do some parallel walking together; bring the dogs in separately, and introduce them off leash in the house.
Bringing Cats & Dogs Together
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This is a more complicated relationship because dogs and cats communicate differently, and frequently there are predatory issues.
If the dog is intent on chasing the cat, keep them in separate rooms, and always make sure the cat has a way to get to higher ground.
DogTime has a full guide to making dog and cat meetings go smoothly here!
Teach Your Dog To Pay Attention To You
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If you can get the pets together without an immediate fight, then teach your dog not to obsess over the other animal. When your dog pays attention to you, they are not constantly thinking about the cat or other dog in the room.
A good way to begin teaching your dog to pay attention to you is to reward them when they look to you for cues or check in with you. When they make eye contact, reinforce the behavior with a treat, favorite toy, or praise.
Remember They Don’t Have To Be Best Friends
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The thing to keep in mind is that the pets don’t need to be best friends. Some dogs and cats just don’t play with each other and don’t want to share a sofa or chair.
There are a lot of factors that go into their development that are out of our control, and it’s possible that they just don’t want to be best friends.
Give Peace A Chance
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Your primary goal should be peace. It’s possible that over time your pets will become more interested in each other and even start to play with each other, but this can take weeks or months.
It’s also very normal for dogs to have loud and vicious sounding squabbles and then very quickly go back to peace and quiet.
Have you ever moved your pets in with a person who already had pets of their own? How did you keep the peace? Let us know in the comments below!