As I’ve said several times before I have 3 dogs, 4 cats and a chinchilla. Technically we’ve got a mix for disaster, chinchilla’s are prey to cats and other predatory animals, cats and dogs tend to fight together. Yet we’ve got a balance in our house that is strangely calm. My cats don’t fight with the dogs, or attack my chinchilla.
Don’t get me wrong, the dogs will chase the cats if they get in the mood, and the cats will attack the chinchilla if I let them. This balance can be only achieved with consistency all around. For one, I never allow my rodent out without him being in an isolated room, or in his chinchilla ball. Now anyone who’s done research on chinchilla’s will be upset, I know. The risks have been taken into account, and currently we don’t have the resources to make a room just for Gusgus away from anyone else.
The cats have learned to move always on things, or very carefully. When Seraphim was introduced into the family she was larger than them all, and she was taught quickly that bothering the cats can be painful. The cats have attacked her if she interfered with their playing too much. If she gets too much for them, trying to interfere to play we remove the dogs.
The cats generally are taught not to touch the chinchilla, we’ve gone the spray bottle route as well as the loud scary sounds. Gusgus is actually a pretty good fighter, he’ll defend himself long enough for me to shoo the offenders away. It wasn’t always this peaceful though.
When our, at the time, three animals first joined together there was fur flying. Chrono was not used to Mouse (who truly loves playing with cats as he’s about the size of a kitten, but can’t handle being scratched at all) would give him a verbal warning before smacking him. We had to train our cat not to hit the little dog, and even still if Mouse pushes the cat’s buttons too much he will get smacked. Mouse didn’t bother Gusgus too much, seeing as they’re the same size. Chrono had been previously in a house with ferrets and knew what rodents were truly about, and one day when Gusgus had gotten out he had mounted Chrono. Funny enough they actually sleep together, Chrono will lay against the cage, and Gusgus will lay on the other side.
When the other cats got introduced, as well as the dogs it took time. Anytime you get a new animal here are some things to consider:
- Give the new guy some time- Don’t immediately introduce your new addition to the family, allow the animal to calm down from the car ride home, before you start allowing everyone to smell and greet.
- Monitor behavior- If you see a fight about to happen separate the animals. I will admit, usually the same day that I get the animal I introduce it to my family, this gets it use to the calm chaos. There are plenty of people who say to just wait a few days and let them sniff it out, but honestly I don’t think I have enough will power to stop them from meeting. Just remember, any new pet should be monitored and vet checked.
- Love your family- Its hard, I know, you want to bond with your new pet and you want to prove to them that you love them. However you must remember to love your existing family to reassure them that the new addition is not to replace them, but to become their friend. I usually walk around and give everyone their individual attention, and then a group attention (for the cats its nip, for the dogs I’ll break out a new toy).
- Take it in stride- When we first got Lokie, we had to stop Chrono from beating him up, eventually they got over it. Chrono would hiss and be angry with Lokie, but they would lay together and snuggle. Finally they got over their differences and now are best of buds.
As with anything, make sure you understand the nature of the animal. Are you bringing in another dog? Make sure it doesn’t show signs of being dominant when it enters. If its tail is up, if its urinating on trees, etc (if its an unneutered male) you may want to wait until they calm down and show submissive signs before you bring them into your pack to prevent a fight. As for introducing new species, realize that there will be curiosity and as long as you know the safety risks take it in stride and make sure you monitor your dog with your new pet.
What if I’m taking my dog over to someone else’s house? I' know I’ve done it, my dog goes with me everywhere so eventually she will enter someone else’s home. Generally I always make sure its fine that she enters, usually I keep her on the leash (unless she’s been there before) so I can instill that I still am the consistent leader of her pack. If there are other dogs I let them sniff each other and get to know each other. If there are no dogs, I usually bring my own toys for her and make her sit, stay, lay down and enjoy a new toy at my feet.
If you have a young puppy ensure you still take them out on a routine schedule, especially since you don’t want to have to clean up a mess on your friend’s carpet. Remember not everyone likes dogs, if you’re going to a friend’s house that doesn’t like dogs or animals you should reconsider bringing your pet with you. Sometimes it is better to leave them at home.
Use your best judgment always when you’re introducing your dog to a new friend. You are in control, always keep your leash with you when in doubt, make them sit stay on spot and remember who truly is alpha.