How to Turn Your Pets into Best Friends

Get tips for introducing two furry family members and helping them bondBy Natalie van der Meer

There are many pros to having two pets: They can become playmates and cuddle buddies, and even learn good behavior from each other. But without a smooth introduction, things can get hairy-fast. The good news: It just takes a little know-how to get things off on the right paw. Read for strategies to make initial meetings between two dogs, two cats and a dog and a cat go swimmingly. Photo by Getty Images

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Dog Meets Dog

With dogs, a low-key first impression goes a long way. Arrange their get-together on leashes outdoors and ask a friend to hold one dog while you take the other. A head-on encounter can be off-putting, so walk one up alongside the other, and have treats on hand to reward good social behavior.

Cat Meets Cat

Felines need a long time to acclimate to any other animal, so make sure your cats can keep their distance at first. Close off a room where your new cat can live for a few days. The cats will be able to smell each other, which helps them get used to the idea of another cat in the house. Then swap their spaces.

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Dog Meets Cat

Tire out the dog first-the calmer he is, the better the meeting will go. Then, encourage the cat to jump to higher ground (like a counter the dog can't reach) so the cat can watch safely from above. Until they're used to each other, separate them with a gate or closed door and supervise their time in shared areas.

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Consider their personalities, though: As with humans, some pets just don't click, and a big age gap or divergent temperaments will make it tough for them to get along. If you have a 13-year-old dog or cat, for example, an energetic 8-week-old puppy or kitten can be an upsetting roommate. Ideally, the pair should have similar social habits and energy levels.

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