Animal expert, Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA, is the Senior Director of Animal Behavior and Training at Great Plains SPCA. Ashley has more than 16 years of experience in animal training and behavior. Email email@example.com for a chance to have your pet question answered in KC Parent magazine.
I recently adopted a three-year-old dog named Rosie. We went through a transition period where I would leave something of hers in my apartment for my cat to smell, and vice versa for Rosie. Then Rosie began visiting during the day while the cat was sleeping in a closed room and I’d return Rosie in the evening. Then when Rosie came here full time. I let my cat, Yuna, and Rosie acknowledge each other from a distance. I have gone through the steps and motions of a slow introduction. Yuna sometimes charges, stalks, and even hisses at Rosie at times and it has caused Rosie to be fearful of Yuna. Am I doing all the right things? Would love your insight! – Shayne Storey
You are doing everything correct and it will take more time. On average it takes at least two months for animals to get acclimated to one another but can take up to six months and even more depending on the animal. Taking everything slow, giving them breaks from one another, and reinforcing desirable behaviors is key. Sounds like Yuna is not quite comfortable with Rosie just yet, but should do better in time. If they start fighting, I recommend reaching out for a behavior consultation. There are some products you can try for Yuna to help her feel more comfortable around Rosie, such as pheromone spray. Also make sure she has lots of areas to jump high and stay away from Rosie when she needs to and provide Rosie with a safe place to get away from Yuna while they are working it out. – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA
How do you pursue early dog-to-dog socialization for young puppies given the need to separate them from other dogs or spaces with other dogs until they complete their initial vaccinations? – Nate Jarvis
This is a great question since it is crucial that puppies get tons of socialization and at the same time, we often hear that it is not recommended to take your puppy anywhere until they are fully vaccinated. A safe option for socializing your puppy is visiting friends and family for human interaction. It is important that they meet babies, toddlers, children, and adults. This is the time when their brains are soaking up everything through all their senses, so having them meet all kinds of people and animals is crucial for their development. I recommend visiting other animals that you are certain are fully vaccinated and have not been exposed to sick animals. Start with your friends, family, and neighbors who you can ask about this. The more different types of animals you introduce your puppy to, the better. You can take your puppy to the park, but you must carry them and not let them touch the ground until they are fully vaccinated. They can at least see, smell, and hear new things, which is fun for them. Take your pup with you in the car on daily errands to get them used to seeing new places. Visit the vet to get treats or products. A vet visit where they aren’t getting restrained or vaccinated may encourage a positive association with going to the vet in the future. – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA