Joining Pet Families

Joining Pet Families

In the 1970s, The Brady Bunch brought combining divorced families into the social conversation. A humorous and popular television show, it also took the topic of divorce and remarriage out of the shadows.

Today, merging families isn’t uncommon. Combining families with human children can be challenging. The kids may not get along, but with human kids, it’s possible to explain, negotiate and separate them to broker a truce – as they did on The Brady Bunch. Joining pet families can sometimes be harder. Neither side wants to give up their furry baby and by following appropriate steps, no one has to.

Go Slow

During the dating process, introduce your pet families to each other. Start with scent – trade materials with your pets’ scents on them and leave them for your partner’s pet to smell. From there, move on to short visits. A joint walk or romp at the dog park is a good way to start. Gradually lengthen the visits until you’re sure they can get along for an extended period of time.

Monitor Interactions

You know your pet and his/her signals. During initial interactions, you and your partner need to monitor the fur babies’ interactions closely. Watch for the slightest signals that either of them is getting ready to bite or charge. Such a traumatic event early on in the developing relationship between pets could be devastating to long-term cohabitation.

Play Dates

Moms and dads of young kids are familiar with the concept. Play dates give kids a chance to socialize with children in their peer group for short, monitored spans of time. When it comes to pets, a similar concept helps the four-legged children become more comfortable with each other. Schedule short amounts of time in neutral locations such as a dog park.

Keep it Comfortable

When the big day finally comes and you’re ready to move in together, give each pet time to sniff and scope out the place individually before releasing them together. If you’re moving into a place where one of the pets already lives, keep that pet out of the way for a few hours to give the new pet a chance to sniff and feel relaxed in the new setting.

Talk to Your Vet

If you have any concerns or questions, talk to your vet. They may suggest your pet and your step-pet attend training or work with a behavior specialist, or that you use calming products such as pheromone or herbal sprays.

We hope these tips make joining your pet families as successful as the Bradys were joining their human ones.

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Sarah Woodard is a freelance writer based in Southern New Hampshire. She enjoys bringing stories, issues and topics to life with words and pictures. In addition to writing, Sarah is a beekeeper, Reiki Master Teacher and black belt in Muay Thai Kickboxing. In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and playing with their four cats.

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