Today is Make a Friend Day, so we thought we’d put together a fool-proof guide to helping your pet make new animal friends. Whether you’re getting a new cat, or you just want your dog to have a new play partner, here is a quick method to help you through the process.
F – Finding the right one
Even the friendliest person in the world doesn’t necessarily get along with every stranger they meet. The same can be said of our pets. You need to try and find a friend who is compatible with your pet. For instance, if your dog is extremely playful and energetic they might not see eye-to-eye with a less lively dog, or vice versa. If you are a little bit choosy about who you introduce your pet to you can avoid a lot of potential issues from the offset. Talk to the owner of your pet’s potential friend to find out what their temperament is like and how they’ve got on with other pets in the past.
R – Right timing
Timing is essential when you introduce pets to one another. Firstly, there are certain times of day when a pet will be more receptive to meeting other animals, and this will vary a little depending on the individual. Many dogs will be slightly calmer after a good walk and, as a result, will be a little less boisterous when they come across a dog they don’t know. Cats, on the other hand, are generally a little friendlier when they have been fed, as they won’t feel territorial or competitive about food. Timing is also important in the sense that most friendships build slowly over time and, though some pets become very fast friends, it may take some time to lay the foundations. Be prepared to allow your pets time to get acquainted, and factor all of this in when you arrange a play date.
I – Instinct
As your pet’s owner you probably know them better than anyone. You’ll have to rely on this when you oversee their first interactions with new pets. Observe their body language and behaviour closely in order to anticipate any trouble.
E – Expect the unexpected
Being prepared is key to a good first meeting between pets. The setting of the rendezvous will affect what you should have to hand, as will the pets you’re attempting to introduce. For instance if you’re introducing cats at home it might be worth having a spray bottle full of water to hand to help you break up any fights, or if you’re introducing dogs in public you’ll certainly want a lead on hand.
N – Noses
Animals use scents as part of their decision-making process when they assess who they believe to be a friend or enemy. Completely unfamiliar smells may put them on the defensive, or even make them overcurious. If possible, it’s best to slowly familiarise your pet with the new friend’s smell. You can do this very easily with cats by wiping a cloth or soft toy around their cheeks, where their scent glands are. You can then give the scented item to the other cat so they can learn the smell and decide that it’s not a threat. You can do a similar thing with dogs by doing a “toy swap” and giving each one of the other’s toys. It’s best to do this well in advance of the first face-to-face meeting.
D – Date
Once you’ve got everything in place it’s time to actually have your pet date! We wish you the best of luck in making new pet friends.