Bringing a new pet into a home with other pets can be an adventure. It can be a good adventure with a little preparation. When you decide to rescue a pet you there are a few things to consider: the personality and behavior and physical concerns of your new pet, the age and personality of all of your family members (both 2 and 4 legged), the space in your home, the extra time the new member of your family will require.
Oftentimes pets in adoption agencies have not had the best beginnings and have suffered abuse that ranges from simple neglect, physical and/or emotional, to extreme abuse. These abuses can result in unusual behaviors that require special consideration. As a new owner it is always best to be informed about prior history that could be the cause of abnormal behavior or health conditions that require medications. The first step once you have decided to adopt is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. They can review all of the history that comes with your new family member, examine your new friend and develop a treatment plan to insure that any health and behavior concerns are addressed. A professional trainer may be recommended for rescue animals that come with a “behavior history”.
Age and personality of people and animals alike determine how easily they accept newcomers. Older animals and people need time and patience to become comfortable with change. Introduction of new pets should be done in small increments allowing the residents to adjust to increasingly longer periods of time with the new family member. Similarly children always need close supervision when bringing a new pet into the house. Proper pet etiquette is essential for all ages especially children. Your current pet’s personality is a very important factor during the introduction phase. Certain traits such as territorial, dominance or fear aggression can make it difficult to add a new member to your household. Likewise very timid animals can lose their place in the home or never take a place if the other pets have very exuberant or dominant personalities. If any one of these traits are part of the personalities of the pets involved it might be best to reconsider your plans or enlist the help of a professional trainer.
Your home’s indoor and outdoor space also play a large role in determining the size and activity level of the pet you plan to adopt. Pets that are larger, large and giant breed dogs, and that are very active usually require a larger living space and exercise area. Additionally there must be enough space so that every member of the family has a comfortable, stress free area in which to eat, rest and eliminate. This is especially important in multi-cat households where overcrowding can lead to inappropriate elimination behavior.
The extra time necessary to care for another animal is often overlooked. Ideally all of our pets will eat, sleep and play side by side so that time spent with one is time spent with all. Unfortunately this is not usually the case. Meal time is a prime example especially when they each eat a different food and some eat slowly while others “inhale” their food. The dining areas must be separate and monitored which may require a big change in your normal routine. Younger and more energetic animals may need extra play time or longer walks. Animals that are older or have disabilities could require slower walks or extra therapy of some kind.
Adoption is a wonderful way to enrich your life and provide a loving forever home for a rescue pet. Preparation and patience are the keys to a smooth introduction and lasting relationships between all family members.