Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a home full of animals, just like Ace Ventura? All of the animals would live harmoniously together, cuddling close together for love and warmth. Well, I’m sorry to report, but that might not be the reality when it comes to introducing new pets to each other, especially if the animals are different species. There is a lot of close monitoring, small victories, and time that leads to animals becoming pals, and if you push them too far it may result in a life full of fear and feuding.
Dog Flips Out After Meeting Snake for the First Time
I recently adopted a very sweet ball python named Pip (or Pip Squeak, as we call her). She is 2-years-old and 3 ft. long, so she’s a pretty big lady.
For as long as I’ve had Django he has never met a snake. We’ve just never run into one of our adventures, so I wasn’t sure how he would react to her. Knowing the chicken that he is, I suspected he would be afraid of her, and bark a little bit because of that fear. His flight is bigger than his fight, so I knew that I just needed to show him that Pip is harmless and he’d be fine.
I brought Pip home in a plastic, see-through container. At first, he had no idea that she was there, and then she started moving…Immediately his head turned to look at her, and his unsure barks and growls commenced. It was clear that he didn’t know what to make of her. He settled down quickly after she moved out of sight into her hot hide.
For the most part, Django doesn’t see Pip. Pip likes to hide out during the day and come out at night when he’s asleep. But now that Pip has been with me for a little while and has settled in I want to start incorporating her into household life. In order to do that I need to introduce them to each other properly so that Django can have a positive association with her, and if all goes well they can be friends (well, as friendly as a dog and snake can be).
How to Introduce Dogs to Your New Pet
Whether you’re introducing two different species to each other, or two of the same, these tactics can work for all animals. When introducing any new animals to each other it’s important to respect their feelings and their space.
What You’ll Need:
- Your dog’s favorite treats
2. A leash (optional)
3. Your animals
What to Do:
When introducing new animals, first keep them at a safe distance away from each other, especially if they are of different species. If you need to use a leash to control your dog’s movement, then do so.
Keep your dog’s attention on you using treats and asking for your dog to “work”. Work, in this case, is any tricks or behaviors that your dog knows, such as “sit”. When your dog looks at the animal but does not bark, reward him with a treat. We want to show him that being calm is the appropriate way to behave with the new pet.
If your dog is barking at the other animal, put some space between yourself and the animal, and continue distracting your dog through work.
We offer the dog treats when he is calm because we want him to understand the behavior that we DO want. We also want the dog to begin to associate the presence of the new animal with good things like food.
Only work for a few minutes per day, don’t push them too far or force them together. Always monitor the animal’s interactions in the beginning, and if the animals are beginning to get overwhelmed, it’s okay to discontinue the meeting until another day. If you follow these steps they will soon they will be on the road to friendship.
What Not to Do:
First things first, NEVER throw the animals together and expect them to get along, especially if they’re different species. New pets need to be introduced to each other slowly. One bad experience, in the beginning, can cause a lifetime of hatred and fear, so it’s best to set them up well in the beginning.
To make sure that nothing bad goes wrong don’t leave them in the same room alone together in the beginning.
What Happens If They Don’t Meet Properly
It takes a very short amount of time for an animal to form an opinion about another animal. In some cases, it can take just one meeting. Dogs live with a “trial and error” kind of mentality. They try things and if the outcome is positive they’re more likely to do it in the future, whereas if the outcome is negative there’s no chance of them repeating it. It’s because of this that one bad experience can cause a lifetime of fear for an animal, which is why we have to be careful with our introductions.
This is especially true when you are introducing animals who, in the wild, have a prey vs. predator relationship. Everything within the biology of that animal is telling them to turn tail and run.
There are two outcomes of a bad introduction, and neither of them is good:
- They could live in fear
If an animal is coming into a new environment and is met with hostility from another pet, they will begin to associate the new environment with fear, and they will never fully be able to settle in and relax. It would be the equivalent of someone scooping you up and telling you-you now have to live in the haunted house down the street. Though you’d eventually find some sort of normality, you’d never be able to fully let your guard down.
- The animals could fight
With enough provocation, animals will fight, which can obviously end very badly, and cause some serious vet bills along the way. This attack could happen when you’re in the home, or while you’re away. It’s because of this that new animals must always be monitored until they are comfortable with each other.
Our job here is to show them that nothing will happen when they meet this new animal. They will soon lose interest and will go on living happily ever after, ignoring one another. Some species may even end up being friends, but the first step is to get them to disregard each other.
These tactics are not just useful when introducing dogs and snakes. Knowing how to introduce dogs to new pets properly is the first step in creating a safe and happy home for all of your animals. The next time that your big heart chooses to bring home a new animal, make sure that they’re introduced properly to make sure that everyone is safe and happy in their home, and to help you to keep your sanity!