How To Introduce a Dog And Cat

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Having pets in your home truly enriches one’s life. There is nothing quite like the love that you can share with a beloved furry companion. Having both a dog and a cat in a home would mean even more love to go around. However, just because you love your dog and your cat, it does not necessarily mean that your dog and cat will love one another. It can be tricky to combine different species under one roof. Knowing this, as a pet owner, you should make sure to take the proper precautions to ensure that your dog and cat get along and can live happily under one roof. Whether your dog came first and the cat is new, or vice versa, or even if you have a dog who has lived with cats previously or vice versa, each introduction is unique to the personalities of the individual animals as well as the home environment.

What to Expect From The First Few Days

You may be asking yourself, how long does it take to introduce a dog and a cat? The answer: it varies! However, the process should not be rushed if you want your animals to all live together happily. Be realistic as to how quickly your cat and dog will get acclimated to one another. Put yourself in their paws and think about how they might be feeling in this situation where a new animal of a different species with a different language moves into their home.

Cats as a species are particularly territorial so you need to be sensitive to that and respect that it may take them time to adjust to sharing their space with other animals, especially a dog. Some dogs can also be territorial or possessive of their resources and will guard them from a new animal in their home. Some dogs also have prey drives that will cause them to want to chase and pounce on the cat.

Aside from differences between species, there are other factors to consider. For instance, it is typically easier to introduce puppies and kittens than adult animals as babies tend to need social interactions and are more open to new things. The health of your pets can be another factor. A sickly animal may be more inclined to behave aggressively or fearfully than a healthy animal. Take your pets for a checkup with your vet to make sure everyone is feeling their best. You also don’t want to potentially make any animals sick by bringing them home without making sure they are healthy!

For the first few days, you should keep the cat and dog separate. You should confine them to different spaces which you can do by designating specific rooms for the pets. Keep doors closed or put up barriers that your pets can’t pass. Over the course of the days, you should gradually allow the cat and dog to explore the other areas where the other animal has been (without the other animal) to allow them to smell their scents. Having them swap rooms/spaces can accomplish this.

Try crating the dog or putting up a barrier so that the cat can roam free and explore in peace. After a few days, when the dog is calm and the cat is comfortably eating and using the litterbox, you can proceed to the next steps.

How to introduce a dog and cat for the first time

So now you want to know how to properly introduce a cat and dog. The very first introduction is crucial to the success of this new union of animals.  The best way to introduce a dog and a cat is to have the introduction in your home as opposed to bringing the dog or cat to meet the new dog or cat at a shelter or foster home. The reaction can vary depending on the location and you would not want to cause additional stress.

You should anticipate that the first reactions might not go over as well as you’d hope. Do not be dismayed, though! Not all first meetings are love at first sight and that does not mean the animals won’t become friends in the end. Your dog might be too enthusiastic for your cat’s liking, which will cause your cat to hiss, growl, attack or hide (depending on the cat). Your dog might have the same reaction where the pup will be aggressive or afraid.

Focusing on obedience training with your dog ahead of time can be very helpful with ensuring these introductions go smoothly. It will also help you to control the situations more easily if your pooch listens to commands. Basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, “drop it”, “lay down”, “come” are all useful tools in these situations. Have plenty of treats ready to reward your dog for being on their best behavior. High reward treats will also help your dog to have positive associations with the cat. Never punish your dog around the new cat or the dog might develop negative emotions around them.

Slowly Introducing Your Cat and Your Dog

As the old adage goes, slow and steady wins the race! So how to slowly introduce a cat and dog?

You can now try leashed interactions, that way you can control the situation in case things go awry. You can also try a cat harness and leash, if the cat is comfortable with this contraption. Keep up the interactions until both the dog and cat are calm in one another’s presence. After a month of these interactions and if the animals seem comfortable and calm, you can allow unsupervised interactions.

Keep these interactions brief for the first few meetings. With time, you can lengthen the interactions but only if the animals are noticeably calmer in one another’s presence without signs of agitation, over excitement and so forth. We want calm and peaceful energies. Make sure the animals are never left unsupervised!

Make sure the environment is conducive to these meetings. The area should be serene without excess noise or traffic. Keep any prized resources, like food and water bowls, beds, litter boxes, in another room to reduce the chance of there being a territorial dispute. Your cat should have access to safe spaces, like a high perch or a cat house, so they can get away if they are stressed or scared. Otherwise your cat might react! Be careful holding your cat in these situations since they may unwittingly injure you in the process of trying to run away or attack the dog. Never force the animals to inter.

A tired cat or dog might make these interactions go more smoothly. Take your dog for a long walk and have a vigorous play session with your cat ahead of time to get out their excess energy.

Body language of dogs and cats

When you are ready to start the introductions, you need to pay very close attention to the body language of the dog and cat. Animals express themselves with their body to convey how they are feeling and will let it be known if they are happy or sad, comfortable or threatened, playful or aggressive, etc. Keep in mind the personality of your dog. For example, a dog with a prey drive might

What to Keep in Mind When Introducing Kittens to Dogs

While it might be easier to introduce a puppy and a kitten, there are still risks involved. For one thing, kittens are much smaller and more fragile than adult cats which means they are more prone to injury. Even a friendly puppy can accidentally hurt a kitten simply by trying to play.

One factor to consider in these introductions is the age of the animals. There are different approaches to how to introduce a kitten to an older cat and dog, how to introduce a new kitten to a cat and dog, how to introduce a new puppy to your dog and cat, how to introduce a cat into a family with an older cat and dog and so forth.

Now you are all set and know how to best introduce a cat and a dog. For more you can check our dog training services.

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