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A yellow Lab puppy laying on a dog bed, back-to-back with a cat, also laying on the dog bed.

Introducing Puppies to Family Pets

By Andrea Critch, Puppy Raising Supervisor, CNIB Guide Dogs

Bringing a puppy home is always exciting and can be even more so if you already have pets at home. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure the move-in goes smoothly while reducing any stress experienced by your animals while meeting one another. 

Puppies love other dogs but can be intimidated by them initially. Remember, this puppy has only been exposed to its littermates and mother. Because they are just babies, it’s best to take things slow. Any negative interactions could affect the puppy long term.

When you introduce the puppy to family dogs, do this on neutral territory outside – like your driveway. With both dogs on a loose leash, let them sniff each other and ensure the leashes don't get tangled. Keep each dog calm, since we want this to be a positive experience for both of them. 

If the initial interaction goes well, proceed to a fenced yard and allow the dogs to run off-leash together to get out any of the nervous/excited energy they may have. Separate the dogs if the puppy becomes too rambunctious. This usually tells us the puppy is tired.

Introducing puppies to cats is different. Cats are unpredictable. If your cat hasn't been exposed to dogs before, they may have a negative response to a new pet in the house. 

Make sure your cat's nails are trimmed to avoid any scratched eyes. Set up a baby gate, so your cat and the puppy can sniff each other through the gate safely. Give your cat time to adjust to the new visitor and ensure the puppy respects the cat – no chasing or biting its tail. 

Try to keep routines consistent for all your family pets. Change in routine may cause stress, which could lead to them not eating or react negatively to the puppy. Separate the animals while they are feeding, so there isn't a sense of having to fight for a food resource. 

Finally – enjoy your time with your animals and be sure to give them lots of love!