Petsharing – how to make the first meeting perfect

Are you about to meet the ‘Sharer’ and their pet for the first time? You probably are very excited and cannot wait to get to know your new four-legged companion. Just like in humans, first impressions count for dogs and cats: This is why it is important to make the first meeting a success!
Today we will look at some tips to make the first meeting as perfect as possible.

#1 Ask the Sharer about their pet’s habits

Not all animals do the best in every situation. If you are sharing a cat, it is likely that you will meet the cat at the sharer’s home. For a dog, there are other options for the first meeting as well. You could get to know each other during a stroll at the park or a round of fetch.
Ask the sharer about your future pet’s preferences and behaviors. For a leash-reactive dog, it would be a very bad idea to meet during an on-leash walk with other dogs around. The dog would be so worked up and stressed that the meeting won’t go as well!
Some dogs get very anxious when people come into their house. These dogs should have introductions in the driveway instead – this usually works much better, and then you can easily enter the home later.

You can also ask what time of the day the pet is the most active. Some pets, such as many cats and senior dogs, do not appreciate being woken up during their naptime. Schedule the first meeting for a time when the pet will be up and ready to go.

#2 Come prepared

Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready for the meeting. You should not squeeze it into a busy afternoon right between a work call and the gym. If you are rushed, the animal is guaranteed to pick up on that and will be less likely to bond with you right away.
If the Sharer told you that the dog or cat loves a specific treat, bring that! Your future pet will instantly love you if he associates you with his favorite food.
Many Carers also like to bring a list of questions they have for the other pet parent. If you have anything you want to ask about written down, you won’t forget it in the excitement of the moment. We have some important questions you should ask in tip #4!

#3 Let the pet take the lead

You should always let the dog or cat dictate the meeting. Some dogs may just be overjoyed to meet you and jump right into your lap. Great – you made a new friend right away!
Others however might take a little longer to warm up to you, and that is also ok. The same applies to cats.
You should of course never run after a pet that does not want to interact and pick it up against its will.
Pets that are shy and not as confident will do their best if you allow them to warm up to you at their speed.
For both dogs and cats, intense eye contact can be intimidating when they are already a bit scared. Do not stare at the pet if he or she seems uncomfortable. Instead, look away and calmly stretch out your hand for them to sniff.

#4 Learn as much as you can

You should let the Sharer tell you as much about your future pet as they can. Think of it like a first date: You want to get to know who the pet is, what they love, what they don’t love, what a typical day looks like, how they eat, how they play … so don’t be shy and ask as many questions as you can.

Here are some ideas:

  • Where did the pet grow up? What was their first year of life like?
  • Who are the pet’s favorite persons?
  • Is the pet a “thinker” or a “doer”? Do they like to go fast and wild, or are they more laid back and thoughtful?
  • What are some games and toys the pet loves?
  • (For dogs:) Does the dog like other dogs? Does he have any doggy friends that he plays with?
  • What is a typical day in the pet’s life like?
  • Does the pet have any health issues I should be aware of?

#5 Connect with the owner, too

Pet sharing only works if the Sharer and Carer have a good relationship as well. You should be able to talk easily and feel comfortable around the owner. Communication is crucial in a successful pet-sharing arrangement. Get to know them, too, and make sure you are on the same wavelength. In a pet sharing setup, you will be like the “co-parents” of the pet.
In the rare case that you feel you cannot connect with the Sharer at all, don’t be afraid to look at other possible arrangements. The relationship between your pet and Sharer should feel good right from the start.

#6 Plan the next steps

If the meeting went well, discuss the next steps. Ideally, you should spend some time alone with the pet so he or she can get used to being around you without the Sharer present. For a dog, you might want to come by and take him for a long walk. A cat could spend an afternoon at your place. Rely on the Sharer’s input – they know their pet best and will tell you what the next steps should be.
Also during the next meetings, make sure to go at the pet’s speed. Some animals will immediately recognize people they have met previously and be very excited. Others may once more need a period of warming up. Respect the pet’s choices in how quickly he or she wants to approach you. This is the fastest way to earn their affection!

The Bottom Line

The first meeting will be a success if you let the Sharer and pet take the lead. While some dogs or cats may jump all over you right away, others could be shyer. As you are connecting with the pet, make sure to do so with the Sharer as well. Ask them many questions about their dog’s or cat’s habits and routine. The better you can get to know them, the faster you will develop a great relationship.
If the meeting went well, don’t forget to plan the next steps together. And of course, enjoy the journey of sharing a pet!

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