Socializing your pet to accept new animals into the household is not always an easy task. We all read the biblical account of Noah and his Ark and wondered just how he got the animals to survive in the ark together for five minutes let alone 40 days and nights of rain. The dog usually has its own ideas of its territory and home and is generally not a generous creature when it come to sharing but would much rather chase the intruders away. We have to reprogram the dogs thinking to make it understand that chasing the cat or iguana or whatever other pet you may have, is not acceptable. So how about some instruction on just how it is done? For the first tip, ensure the safety of both animals and yourself. To start, make certain that the new animal will be safe.
Place the new pet in a pet carrier or some other sturdy structure that prohibits the dog from actually physically contacting the animal but still allows for both animals to see, smell and hear each other. This provides a way for both animals to acclimate to each other in a safe, though possibly a bit stressful, situation. In later steps, gloves might be advisable to avoid scratches from a nervous pet. Secondly, rewards work wonders. After the animals have both calmed a bit give them each a small reward, such as a morsel of some favorite food.
Be sure to give the dog lots of verbal praise and affection when it is not barking or trying to get to the new animal as this will show the dog that you are accepting of the new pet's presence and you expect him to be also. Repeat this process several times over the course of a week or so, until both animals seem fairly accustomed to the presence of the other and their aggressions seem to have subsided. At this point, you are ready to move on to the next step and tip number three. The third tip to socializing your animal is get help. This step will require an assistant to help with one of the animals. Have the assistant leash the dog and hold him firmly on a very short leash.
After instructing the assistant to maintain control of the dog, open the pet carrier and bring the new pet out carefully. Your dog will likely move towards the animal so be sure the assistant has the dog held tightly and be careful not to let the new pet panic and escape your grasp. Gradually bring them closer together and let them calmly adapt to each others presence.
Repeat this step several times over the next few days and by the end of the week, these two animals should be like old chums. Another tip to remember in socializing your pets is that, while the animals most likely will not make an instant attachment to each other, there are those special picture perfect moments that you will want to cherish a lifetime. So keep the camera handy and loaded with film. The candid shots of training at its best provide memories that will last forever.
Few things are more fun than looking at a picture of your dog with an iguana riding around the room perched on his back and telling a little white lie that you taught the two of them to do that. Our fifth and final point is remember that just like humans, not everyone is going to get along. There will be days where the dog and the cat are going to feud or the iguana will get cantankerous and slap the dog with his tail for the fun of it. Some animals were just never meant to live in harmony but with a lot of patience and a little direction you can make your household fairly peaceable most of the time. When things go sour, just take it in stride and put the animals in their separate areas for a bit and, given a cooling period, they will be friends again in no time. With these simple tips you can be certain that life around your home will be much more harmonious and you might just have a bit more respect for Noah and his Ark.
Paul Duxbury writes extensively on Pet Care. You can read more of his articles at Dog Care and Training and Pet Care Centre Download Your Free Dog Training Report