Do you want your dog and cat to be best friends? It can be easy, if done right right way.
Here is what to do -
First! You want to set up your animals to succeed! This can be done by matching your cats and dogs personality. This means that you should consider both personalities of the animals that you want to get along. Match a calm animal with another timid and quiet, animal and an active animal with another loud, energetic animal.
It is also helpful consider both animals' past experiences with the other species. Look for a cat or a dog that has already been exposed to the other species in the past.
Is age important? Yes!
It is best when both animals are young. If that isn't possible than try to have the new addition either a puppy or a kitten.
Once you have found the cat or dog that you want to bring into your home with your existing cat or dog, the introduction needs to be made.
The first introduction well set the relationship off in the right way and set the foundation of the relationship - so it is super important!
When introducing your dog to a cat, pay attention to the body language of both animals. Know when your cat is uncomfortable, scared, or aggressive. Know when your dog is scared, aggressive or too playful for the cat.
The first "Introduction" isn't really an introduction. The animals will never come face to face. You need to keep them separate for a few days. This means that they will need to stay in separate rooms. Put your cat in room alone. Have everything that your cats needs in that room. Food, water, little, scratching post, toys, bed, etc.
Do not let your cat and dog see each other!
During the process, remember to go slow. Be patient.
STEP ONE: You will let both animals become familiar with each other by scent. Do not let your cat and dog see each other! Keep the cat in single room for a few days. In the room your cat will sleep, eat, use the littler box, play, etc.
- Across a few days, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to a single room. Allow each animal plenty of time to investigate the other one’s scent.
- Rub a towel on the animal to get their scent all over the towel and then let the other animal smell the scent on the towel. It may be helpful to place your pets food bowl on top the scented towel, so that your pet eats while smelling the other animal.
- Switch their beds and blankets, so that they can smell each other's scent
- Feed your dog and cat at the same time on opposite sides of the door, so that they can hear and smell each other, but not see each other.
Do this for a few days.
After a few days, once the dog is calm and appears uninterested in the cat and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box as normally, move on to step two.
STEP TWO: Put both animals in a room that is neutral territory (or as neutral as possible). The environment needs to be calm, quiet and distraction free.
Have full control of both animals. One will be free to roam the room and one will be in a crate.
*IMPORTANT* Both animals will need to be comfortable in the create and enjoy spending time in their create. If they are not, then skip the create. If you don't use a crate, you need to have a leash on your dog and a spot for your cat to climb up high and get away/observe from a high place.
Make sure that your dog will follow your commands. If it a puppy or not yet trained, you need to be careful that he isn't too playful or excited. You may need to keep your puppy on a tight leash.
- do not let your dog chase your cat
- do not continue if your cat or dog is upset, scared, angry, aggressive, hiding, barking, hissing, or growling. If any of this occurs, separate the animals into different rooms.
- do not let your dog lunge at the cat
DO watch your cats and dogs behaviours and body language. Remove one animal as soon as there is any fear or aggression.
At first, keep it short. Only let the loose animal investigate the crated animal for a short time. If one animal becomes aggressive or scared, the time together was too long. You may need to go back to step one.
Remember to rotate animals, so it isn't always the same animal in the crate.
Repeat over a few days until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm, happy, and relaxed around the dog.
If the dog stares at the cat, distract the dog with a toy or a game. Once your dog is looking away from the cat, you can give your dog a treat or rewarding game of tug or fetch.
Remove the create and leash and let both animals interact freely. If you feel more comfortable, keep your dog on a very long loose leash. Keep the meetings short at first and slowly increase the time until you feel comfortable and both your animals can relax and eat around each other.
Remember to always reward and praise your dog for good behaivours around the cat. Ignoring the cat is great as well!
Always provide a place for your cat to get away from the dog. Somewhere up high or a room that the dog cannot have access to.
You will need the help of a professional if:
your dog continues to bark, growl, lunge or chase your cat
your cat hisses or growls at a dog that is calm and ignoring your cat
your cat stops eating or drinking
your cat stops using the litter box or is misusing the box
your cat goes to the washroom in inappropriate areas
your resistant (original) animal starts to behave differently than when it lived alone
If you'd like 1:1 assistance and guidance during introductions or if you are experiecning issues with your dog and cat living together, please contact me here:
Yes, I want help!