Bringing a new cat into a home which already has a dog can be a stress-filled event. We’ve all seen and heard cats and dogs fighting, or at least we’ve seen cartoons which make it seem like that’s the norm when introducing cats and dogs to each other. With the right planning and techniques, you can keep the stress to a minimum.

Before we get started with the techniques of introducing cats and dogs, keep this in mind. Dogs are pack animals by nature. Cats are not. Sure, cats can be social animals and may love having other felines nearby. But typically they do fine without another companion. That’s just how it works.

First, when introducing a new cat into your home, you must keep them separated. That doesn’t mean have one person hold the dog and another person hold the cat. It means you should have some type of physical barrier between the two. A large pen is the preferred, but a crate will do.

Since the dog is the current king or queen of the house, don’t pen up your dog. Pen the cat. Let the cat get comfortable in the pen before bringing the dog into the room. Pet her… let her relax. Occasionally, go to the dog (who’s in a separate room) and let him smell the cat’s scent on your hand. Pet the dog and let the cat smell that scent. Don’t rush into it. Let both animals relax.

Then, when everyone is calm, bring the dog into the room on a leash. He might want to run full-speed at the pen, but the leash will control that. Speak calmly to both animals and pet them to ensure that everything is fine..

Slowly bring the dog to the pen and let them begin to sniff each other. The dog will probably be barking and the cat will probably be hissing, but that’s alright. Continue to keep them separated, let them continue to sniff and check each other out, and eventually things will begin to settle down. It will take time, so be patient.

If the dog is overly excited, take him outside for a walk to let him release some energy. The point here is to let the dog and cat get to a point where they realize the other animal is not a threat. Again, give it time.

Eventually, you’ll realize the cat and dog are losing interest and that the other is not as threatening as they thought. When you feel comfortable, calmly let the cat out of the cage or pen. Make sure the cat is in a safe, comfortable position. Praise the dog for remaining calm. Have some dog treats handy because dogs almost always have more interest in the treats than cats. Keep the leash on the dog. Most likely the cat will want to check out the house. If the cat wants to check out the dog, that’s great! Just keep the leash in control. Continue to praise the dog for calm interactions with the cat.

The cat will probably want to wander around to investigate her new home. Let the dog follow along on the leash at a comfortable distance. If things seem alright, let them get closer. They’ll continue to sniff each other. The cat will probably hiss here and there, but that’ s alright. If the cat runs off and hides, give her time to relax and eventually she’ll come back out.

Do this until both the cat and dog are comfortable with each other. You may need to keep them separated (either in pens or separate rooms) until the tension is gone, but usually not.

You should be able to put the cat in the pen and let the dog roam freely while you go about your daily routine. Experiment with letting the cat out throughout the day. When you do, keep the dog on the leash until you are comfortable that the safety of both animals is not in question.

At night time, keep the cat separated for a few evenings until she is totally comfortable with her surroundings. Continue to reward the dog for calm behavior around the cat.

When it comes time to let the dog and cat roam free, make sure it’s in an area where the cat can escape if necessary. On a high ledge, under furniture, or wherever. Just make sure the escape route is available. Most likely, if you follow these steps, things will work out just fine.

One more point, most dogs love cat food. And a large number of dogs enjoy finding “treats” in the cat’s litter pan (yes, it’s gross). You need to have those items in a controlled environment and teach the dog what is acceptable and what is not.

Best wishes to you and your pets!

2 Comments on How to introduce a cat and dog.

  1. Catherine74 says:

    Thanks for this post. I was getting ready to go pick up a cat from my mom’s house to bring home and introduce to my dog. This really helps alot. I was a little nervous about how it would go, so this is very helpful. Thank you again.

  2. manny says:

    Good ideas! I brought home an older kitten from the shelter this week and followed these tips. Worked like a charm. Thanks!

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