Many people pin dogs and cats as mortal enemies. However, dogs and cats can be the best of friends under the right circumstances.
If you’re bringing home a cat to introduce to your dog, or a dog to introduce your cat, you’re probably wondering how to go about the introduction so that things go smoothly.
Check out this guide to learn how to introduce your dog to your cat (and vice versa).
Set Up Separate Spaces
First things first, you’ll want to set up separate spaces for both of the animals. Both your cat and your dog will need time to adjust, so you don’t want to force the interaction right away.
You should separate your pets for about a day or two. Also, make sure it’s the new pet you keep in the confined space, and that you let your old pet roam the house as usual, save for the new pet’s space.
Also, make sure you stock the new pet’s space with plenty of water, food, and toys.
Alternate Which Animal Is Confined
Another good thing to do is to alternate which pet is in a confined space.
This will give each pet a chance to explore their new home and check out each other’s smells. Try rotating the pets every few hours.
However, if you’re dealing with a new puppy that still needs to be potty trained, make sure you don’t give them free-range to the whole house just yet. Expand the area in which the puppy can roam room by room. This way, you can keep a better eye on them for signs of toileting.
Also, you can still allow your animals to interact through the door when one is confined. This will give them a chance to see each other, paw at each other, and get closer to one another’s scents.
Speaking of scents, it’s very important that you introduce your pets to one another’s scents before they interact for the first time.
The best way to do this is bit by bit. Start by placing towels, blankets, or toys with each pet’s scent in the other’s room. Once the pets become familiar with one another’s scents, you can start switching rooms.
By introducing scents slowly, they’ll be able to slowly get accustomed to one another and not feel so overwhelmed when the actual meeting takes place.
Keep Animals Confined When No One Is Home
If you have yet to make a successful face-to-face introduction, you should keep your pets confined to separate areas when you’re not at home.
If you have a new puppy, it may be a good idea to crate them until you get back.
If you keep a cat secured to one room, make sure they have access to a litter box.
The Initial Meeting
Here’s everything you need to do to make sure the initial meeting between your cat and dog goes smoothly:
Choose a Good Location
First things first, you want to choose a good location to introduce your dog and cat to one another.
Try to choose a location that they’re both familiar with so neither feels stressed or overstimulated. In other words, don’t take them to a new park or bring them to a friend’s house to introduce them.
In fact, seeing as your cat is likely an indoor cat, it’s best to avoid the outdoors altogether.
Also, make sure the space is large enough so that you can keep the animals on opposite sides of the room when you’re initially introducing them.
Keep Your Dog on a Leash
If you’re introducing a new pup to a senior cat, then you’re definitely going to want to keep the puppy on a leash during the introduction. However, if you’re introducing a senior dog to a new kitten, it’s still a good idea to put your dog on a leash.
Even if your dog isn’t aggressive, there’s no telling what they’ll do when they meet your cat for the first time.
Also, try to introduce your dog to your cat after the dog has had some play and exercise. This way, they’ll be all tuckered out and much less likely to jump on the cat.
Keep your dog on a leash the entire time, even if they seem to be doing well. It’s also a good idea to have a toy or a treat to distract the dog if they become overly interested in the cat.
Also, make sure to keep the initial meetings short and sweet between your dog and cat.
Continue With Leash Interactions
Until your dog or puppy is able to remain calm around the cat, you should continue with leash interactions.
Your cat should also be calm with the puppy in the room. This means your cat should eat, drink, and use the litter box without any hesitation.
You want to get to a point where your pets are mostly uninterested in one another before removing the leash.
Reward Good Behavior
If your dog chases or bothers your cat, you may be inclined to scold or punish them. However, this is counterproductive, and will usually result in both animals feeling overly stressed.
So, instead of focusing on scolding bad behaviors, focus on reinforcing good behaviors.
When your dog is calm and obedient around your cat, be sure to reward them with treats.
If your dog becomes overly fixated on your cat, direct them away with a toy or a happy voice.
When your cat and dog are in the same room, make sure to keep an eye out for aggressive behaviors. We also suggest waiting about a month before you allow them to spend time in the same room unsupervised.
Dogs and Cats: Are You Ready for the Grand Introduction?
By following these steps, the introduction between your dog and your cat should go very smoothly.
If you have any questions about introducing dogs and cats, comment below.
And, be sure to check out this guide to learn about strange behaviors you should expect from your puppy during their first night home.