How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat Household
Introducing a new dog into a cat-only household may seem like a daunting task. Our instincts and pop culture tell us that the two go together about as well as oil and water. In reality, people own both dogs and cats all the time. Getting everyone to co-exist peacefully isn’t always the most natural process, but if you follow the steps below, your pups and kittens can learn to be the best of friends.
Keep them separated
Like the 90s rock band, The Offspring said, “you got to keep them separated.” But only for a little while. When you first bring your new dog home, keep your cat in a separate area while your pup gets used to the new environment. Make sure your cat’s new temporary spot in the house has all the things that’ll make them feel like everything is normal.
Equip their setup with toys, cat food, a litter box, and whatever else makes them feel at home. Within a few days, place a few of each pets’ belongings in the others’ space, so they start to get familiar with their scent. Feeding is always a happy time in a pet’s mind, so place their food bowls near the door or wall that separates them.
This shared time helps each pet associate the other’s scent with a positive experience. Once your cat seems at ease, it’s time to make an introduction.
Keep it quick
After a few days of eating near each other, go ahead and orchestrate a bit of playtime for the two. It’s best to do this in a neutral area of the house – one that isn’t a common territory for either animal. Keep the first few meetings brief and as calm as possible. Keep your dog on a leash while you let your cat roam freely. Don’t hold your dog during these initial meetings since their first reactions may be aggressive.
As your pets adjust to the situation, give them some treats to reinforce any good behavior. If they panic or quarrel, use treats, toys, and soothing sounds to get them back to normal. If the fighting gets a little too heated, toss their favorite toys into their designated rooms to split them up for a quick cool-down period. No matter the outcomes, repeat these quick sessions daily until they get comfortable with each other.
Supervise and train
As your dog and cat interact more and more, always be sure to keep a watchful eye on them. A dog with perfectly innocent intentions to play with a cat can still end up hurting the kitty on accident. This is why you must maintain a separate safe space for your cat.
At the same time, know your dog. Be familiar with the type of dog you’re bringing home and what skills they have. Train your new dog so he responds to commands when he acts up. For example, when your cat enters the room, tell your dog to sit, and then reward him with a treat. It’s important to keep your dog busy and active so he’s less inclined to chase the cat around the house all day. We all know cats, and they will not approve of this!
If you do decide to expand your pet family, always keep your current pets’ personalities in mind before you bring a new dog into the mix. If you make well-informed decisions and follow these steps, you’ll have a perfectly blended, multi-pet household in no time!