Tips For Introducing A New Dog To Your Cat

dog-cat-noses1. Understand differences in social order. To cats, physical place is all important. To dogs, social place is all important. As long as the dog accepts the cat’s dominance over territory, they typically work out a relationship.

2. Keep the dog on leash during introductions. Use a halter for very young dogs. Try to keep the leash loose.

3. Confining a puppy or dog is necessary at times. It gives the cat time to roam about the house, surveying his territory. If you keep the dog separated with a gate or in an exercise pen, your cat can safely investigate the newcomer.

4. When you leave the house, separate the animals in physically, securely separated areas. Give each access to water, a bed or other suitable resting place, and some toys. Be sure the cat has access to a litter box. Make sure everyone in your family and any caretakers understand the need to separate the animals.

5. For the cat’s safety, make sure the cat has escape routes to get away from the dog. For example, a cat door leading to another room in the house and ledges on which he can easily jump. Always provide places where each animal can retreat for safety and privacy, a spot that is his or hers alone. A cat can use the top of the refrigerator; a dog can use a crate.

6. Use a baby gate so they can get to know each other without coming into full contact. Or confine the new pet to a room and allow the animals to sniff each other under the door. A tip from PAW volunteer Lynne Keffer: put up a baby gate at the top of a stairway or in a doorway. (Stack gates one atop another if the dog’s a jumper.) Cut a small hole in the gate, just big enough for the cat to fit through. Things typically improve once the cat learns he has an escape hatch.

7. Teach the dog the “leave it” command, and use this command when you want the dog to leave the cat alone. Also teach the dog the “down” and “stay” commands so that you can place her in a down-stay in the presence of the cat.

8. Let animals sniff each other — that’s how they get acquainted.

9. Do not expect the pets to become buddies right away. Let the animals establish the relationship at their own pace. Realize that some dogs and cats will not become buddies.

10. During mealtimes, each animal needs to feel safe and relaxed while eating. An animal who feels the need to defend his food is under much stress (this will also affect digestion). At least initially, feed in separate areas and give the animals their own food bowls. It helps to give the cat an elevated place to eat that cannot be reached by the dog. The height gives the cat a sense of security.


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