How To Introduce Your Dog And Cat
Maybe you already share your home with a dog, but you’d really like a cat too, or maybe it’s just the opposite…you already have a cat that allows you to live in your home, but you would also love to have a dog. Is it even possible to introduce one or the other and maintain the peace? Of course it is…many houses are home to both canine and feline. I’ve seen homes where…
- The cat totally ignores the dog, even though the dog chases the cat everytime he sees her.
- They both ignore each other
- They play together, sleep together and love each other.
There aren’t any guarantees that you will be fortunate enough to have your cat and dog be like #3, but you’ll have a much better chance that they won’t “fight like cats and dogs” if you’ll follow these tips to introduce them to each other.
Things to keep in mind…
You need to remember that cats and dogs, like humans have their own personalities, and likes and dislikes. You will not be able to force them to be buddies, and you shouldn’t even try. Whatever degree of success you may achieve, it will more than likely take time…a few weeks to a couple of months, be patient.
Cats can be territorial and many dogs are hunters. Keep in mind that your cat may see Fido as a threat, and Fido may see Fluffy as his prey. They won’t be able to work things out between themselves on their own, you will need to play a part in building their relationship – a very important part.
Carefully watch the body language of both animals: If she feels threatened, a cat will lay her ears back, her tail will be vigorously swishing back and forth and she may be making a low growling or hissing sound. Your dog could become totally focused on the cat, so much so that you cannot change his focus, he may not only stare intensely, but his body might stiffen and be ready to pounce and he might make a whining noise or begin barking. These are indications that the two need to be separated for a time and the introduction should continue later, following these tips.
Introducing your cat and dog:
- Take it one step at a time – Keep the first meeting brief. Begin introductions slowly, do not let both animals free in the same area of the house. You may consider keeping one in a crate while the other is free to roam and then trading off so they both have the opportunity of freedom. One of them doesn’t need to be crated at all times, so when they aren’t “in training” to get acquainted, give each one some space where they are free to roam without worrying about the other one.
- Another idea that many people use is a child’s gate to keep them separated while still giving them a little face time, or as an escape route when thengs get crazy.
- It’s also a good idea to give the kitty a high place she can jump up on to get away from the chaos.
- When it’s time to make face-to-face introductions – Keeping Fido securely on a leash, the animals can be in the same room together. You may have to repeat this a few times over 3-4 days until they are both calm when in the presence of the other. This step should continue until both remain calm. They shouldn’t be allowed to be together unsupervised until you are positive they won’t hurt each other – until then, when you leave they should be separated by closed door. If Fido has been the previous resident, this is a good time to practice using the markers he has been trained with -sit, stay, lay down. Be sure to reward him for good behavior.
- Eating can be an important part of the introduction – Food is typically associated with good and pleasant feelings, and our goal is for them to experience each other as they experience something good like food. To begin with, when it’s time to feed them, keep their bowls separated, possibly on opposite sides of a closed door. As the animals becocme more and more comfortable with each other the door can be opened, and eventually the bowls can be moved closer to one another. Some families place Fluffy’s food on a raised surface where Fido can’t reach it.
- A cat and her privacy – Keep Flufy’s litter box in an area of its own, where Fido will not disurb her when she is otherwise occupied. If she has no privacy there, she may find it elsewhere that is totally not aceptable. Not to mention, Fido might be one of those dogs that likes to snack from the litter box.
- When is it time to take Fido off the leash when Fluffy is around? – When Fluffy is comfortable coming out from under the bed and stroll around, and when Fido isn’t interested in chasing her.
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