How To: Introduce a Dog to a Cat

Usually, dogs and cats can live together very peacefully. However this will take planning, patience and guidance on your part. Here we are this week to give to the stages you need to make sure your pets can live together and even enjoy each others company.

It’s really important to remember that some dogs have a high prey drive and shouldn’t be left alone with your cat. Even when dogs are playing, they can actually harm a cat very easily.
Before bringing a dog into a home with an existing cat, be sure to do the following:
Make sure that you have created a safe place for your cat in each room of the house. It could be on top of a bookcase, or you could just make sure that your cat is separated from the dog using a baby gate or a cat door.
Put your cat’s litter box in a safe area. Many dogs eat cat feces, and if the dog ambushes the cat in the litter box, the cat may become afraid and relieve himself elsewhere in the house.
Keep the cat’s food and water dishes in a safe area as well. Cat food is too rich for dogs, and dog food lacks vital nutrients for cats’ eyesight and heart function.
Figure out if your new dog understands basic commands, such as “sit”, “stay” and “leave it”. This will be helpful with the introductions.
Try to exchange the bedding of your dog and cat so they can become accustomed to each other scent.
If you are introducing a dog into a household with a kitten, use extra caution. A kitten is more likely to be injured by a young, energetic dog or a predatory dog.
To introduce your new dog to the house, it is important to make sure that the dog is well exercised and is fed a full meal to make sure that he is relaxed. Make sure your cat is in a safe place and let your new dog roam the house for about 45 minutes to allow your dog to meet your cat by smell only. Then take your dog out for a walk and let your cat out of the safe place, so that she can smell where the dog has been.
Put your dog on a short leash, or you can attach the dog’s leash to your belt (for the first few days, if necessary) — this will allow you to make a quick correction if he starts to chase the cat.
Get your cat in her carrier if she’s typically skittish; otherwise, let her walk around. Be ready with lots of treats for good behaviour.
The cat’s first reaction will likely be to hiss and/or run… this is perfectly normal so don’t worry!
Let dog and cat check each other out at a distance. Pet and talk to your dog soothingly. It’s not time for dog to approach cat just yet. Give your dog and cat some treats and praise as rewards.
Should your dog bolt toward your cat, correct him with the leash, and use the “sit” or “leave it” commands. If he shows any signs of excessive excitability, calm him. If this doesn’t do the trick, cut the visit short and try again later. Praise the dog (or give a treat) the moment that he complies and stops trying to get the cat.
Repeat these short visits several times a day, gradually giving your dog more leash as appropriate.
Once you have had at least a few consecutive days of this without any incidents, you can move onto the next stage. Let go of the leash, but be prepared to grab it or step on it if he attempts to go after the cat. If the cat swats the dog on the nose, distract the dog with a toy, but don’t punish the cat. Many times, all it takes is one swat from the cat for a dog to learn his lesson.
If you see problems, and they don’t resolve with a few simple voice commands, go back to the previous phase for a few days. Gradually make the no-leash sessions longer. Do not leave the cat and dog alone until you’re sure they’re both fully comfortable with each other and there will be no trouble.
Hopefully within a week or two your pets will be best friends, and they will provide company for each other and enjoy it!
If your cats and dogs are living peacefully together now, let us know over on our social media! Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!