Perhaps it has been just you and your pet for as long as your buddy can remember. So what happens when a new partner comes on the scene? You may be lucky and find that there’s an immediate bond between them… But this new relationship will often need a helping hand, mainly if you have a shy and fearful four legged friend. Don’t worry: we’ve put together some tips on introducing your pet to strangers!
Each animal has their own personality, and the way they react and interact with people can differ greatly. You may also have to deal with even more challenging matters depending on where the introduction is taking place. Your home and a public place are very different settings. No matter where you are, you want your pet to be relaxed, calm and gentle when meeting a stranger!
First things first: take the lead
In order for the meeting to go as smoothly as possible, it is of high importance that you take the lead and guide both your pet and their new fellow. Above all else, you must keep calm and be patient.
Knowing how to recognize your dog or cat’s signs of anxiety can be quite useful, and will enable you to step in before things become stressful. Dogs that cower, tuck their tail or show excessive lip licking or yawning are clearly uncomfortable. Cats, on the other hand, simply disappear from sight right away when feeling uneasy. In stressful events you’ll easily notice the dilation of your pet’s eye pupils, which will appear almost completely black.
If the introduction is taking place at home, prepare a neutral and relaxed environment in advance. Once the doorbell has been rung, it’s important to correct your dog’s unwanted behavior (barking, charging the door) in a calm but firm manner. It may be useful to confine your dog to a separate room until everyone has settled in.
The first impression matters
First impressions count, and I don’t mean your new partner’s first impression of your buddy. Naturally, every pet is just perfect in their owner’s eyes! This is why letting the animal make the first move is of the utmost importance. You should never allow the new person to approach, speak to or touch your dog or cat until they make the first move and signal that this type of contact is acceptable.
Cats see direct eye contact and waving arms as direct challenges, so your partner should gradually let your cat get closer, not the other way round. If your partner is happy to get down on the floor for initial introductions, then all the better! Being at the same level as your cat will feel a lot less threatening for them.
Leave room for the animal to wander around the space, sniff your guest and get comfortable around the novelty at their own pace.
Treats, treats and more treats
Reinforcing a positive behaviour (being calm, sitting or lying down) greatly helps your dog to understand what kind of attitude is accepted. And don’t be naive – this works perfectly for cats as well!
You can ask the new person to offer your pet some tasty treats. It is common knowledge that one of the quickest ways to a dog or cat’s heart is through their stomach… So your pet is quite likely to fall in love with the new person right away.
But look out!! Never ever reward any exhibition of fear, anxiety, shyness, aggressiveness or bad temper. This will only delay your buddy’s progress and increase the likelihood of them continuing to engage in this unwanted behaviour.
A well-kept secret…
If you feel like being quirky, you can even ask your loved one to lend you an unwashed piece of clothing for you to leave around the house in advance. That way, your pet will be introduced to the new person’s scent even before the physical contact happens! Try it out, it works beautifully!
So, things to remember: your furry friend, especially if you have a dog, will look to you for cues on how to behave in new situations. Staying serene and giving useful tips to the new person makes all the difference!
If you need any help, the Findster Care team is here to lend you a hand! However, extreme and overly aggressive attitudes from your pet may require a veterinarian behaviourist to step in!
Along the process, never forget: have fun and enjoy the moment!