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DOG BEHAVIOR

How to Introduce a Dog to a Cat

 

Is it possible for dogs and cats to get along? According to most veterinarians, the answer is they can! It all depends on if the pet owners take enough time to do it as well as follow several easy guidelines to introduce a dog to a cat. If you do, there’s not a single reason cats and dogs can’t be friends.

 

Keep Them Apart

If you plan to get a pet dog or a pet cat, it is vital that pets can have a chance to become used to their new home and not be stressed out by more than one animal at a time being there. So, if you already have a dog, for instance, you should keep the new cat separate in a different room for a few days and make sure it has lots of stimulation.

A good choice is a closed room such as the bedroom or a bathroom. You should stock it with some toys, a scratching post, water, food and of course a litter box. Be certain to pay lots of attention to the cat while he’s in the room. And if it’s a new dog you are getting, you might want to separate your cat in another area of the house and use a crate for training the new dog.

Vets suggest putting personal things from each pet, i.e. their bed, in the other pet’s area while they are separated. Then they can get used to the scents from one another. When your cat is calm around the new smells, and he is eating ok and using his litter box well, then you can introduce him to your dog carefully.

 

First Introductions Should Be Quick

When it is time for the introduction of the two pets, the first one should be only around 10 minutes long. Make sure the dog is leased and let the cat go free and if the cat wants to go up to the dog, just make sure you are totally in control so the dog can’t hurt the cat. A head collar might be a good idea if you are worried. IF the dog stays calm, reward it with a treat as well as some praise.

If things go well, you can slowly allow the two pets to stay together for longer periods. Keep the dog leased so you can get control as needed, but you can let him move more freely. You need to be patient as if it could be several weeks or a few months before they are comfortable and safe around each other.

 

Think About The Personality of Your Pet

Most vets will agree that your pet’s personality is a way to predict if they will be able to live with another animal. For instance, if your cat or dog has been living with different kinds of animals in the past, it’s likely things will go easier. But if, for instance, you have a cat that hisses or runs away when it sees other animals,  it will be harder.

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Things to ask yourself include “is my dog aggressive or playful?” If the dog is playful he may adjust to a cat, but if he lunges, growls, and is hard to handle, it may not ever be a good idea to get a cat, and the cat may not be safe. Talk to your vet.

Even if your cat is very confident and the dog is usually easygoing, the cat is the one that should call the shots. But make sure the cat is up on a higher perch than the dog can reach and the dog is leased when they first meet.

 

 

The Key is to Supervise Them

If you can’t supervise the two pets directly, do not leave them alone together. You should keep the dog crated until you are 100 percent sure he won’t harm the cat. Even simply playing too hard could hurt or kill a cat! Plus dogs can easily jump a baby gate or smash through it.

Similarly, you should make sure the cat has a safe place to go where it could get away from your dog like a tall cat tree or a room with a cat door the dog can’t fit through. When cats run, most dogs will chase them and it’s vital to keep that from occurring!!

 

Keep Up Dog Obedience Training Skills

For the cat to feel like it’s safe, the dog must be controlled. Therefore knowing basic obedience commands like “sit” “stay” and “leave it” are vital. Prior to making the first introduction, you should ensure your dog knows these and practice them. Then, when your dog sees your new cat, and you say “sit,” praise him if he does it. However, make sure to have him on a leash at the same time at first.

Make sure your dog is not bored and has things like toys and exercise to keep him entertained, so he doesn’t want to entertain himself by chasing the new cat. Keep him occupied with the toys and things while the cat is roaming loose.

Take the dog on long walk sessions and make sure he can burn off his energy. Then introductions to the new cat won’t be so nutty.

It’s not possible to predict which pet is going to be the leader, but if you take the right steps to introduce them, and are patient, it will help your new blended family go more smoothly.

 

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