We know there’s a difference between “dog people” and “cat people,” but most families have at least one of each. Couples are often split down the middle, and each child is a wild-card until they decide. So it’s no surprise that many households tackle the challenge of introducing a dog to a home that already has a cat or vice versa. It’s usually better to start with a cat and introduce a dog so that the cat is the more confident pet in the situation. Here are a few tips on how to successfully manage the introduction of a new dog into a cat home so they will live peacefully together.
Start With a Puppy or Cat-Trained Dog
The best way to start is with a young dog. A puppy is malleable and can build their whole world around living peacefully with a family cat. If you’re adopting an older dog, look for dogs that already have experience living with cats.
Protect Your Cat’s Food and Litter Box
Preparing your home is the first step. Dogs will eat cat-food happily, but not healthily. Make sure that your cat’s food and water bowls are now placed off the ground where your dog can’t reach it. You should also protect the litter box, which a dog will generally invade if they can. Now might be a good time to create a special cat-door in a lower cabinet, for example.
Create a Safe Place For Your Cat to Retreat
Next, make sure your cat has a safe and comfortable place where they can run away from the dog. Cats will almost universally be wary, nervous, and even hostile when your dog first arrives. This is normal. The best thing is for your cat to have a room, a perch, or some other place where they can get fully out of reach of the dog.
Make Sure Your Dog Understands Basic Commands
It’s important that your dog knows or quickly learns the basic control commands. They need to know some combination of “Stop,” “Sit,” and “Leave it Alone” so that you can command them to leave the cat alone when necessary. Your dog may be inclined to pester or chase the cat, and they must be commandable to stop. If your dog doesn’t have the basics down, you can find great Long Island dog training services to make it right.
Start With Short Leash Protocols
When first introducing your dog to the house, make sure the cat has their retreat spot and put the dog on a short or retracting leash. Consider using a harness for this exchange. The dog may sniff around politely, or they may bolt for the cat. The leash is to ensure that you can quickly prevent a nose-scratch and bad encounter at the beginning.
Put the Cat Away
With the dog on a leash, take them on a 15-60 minute tour of the house while the cat stays out of the way. Give your dog a chance to sniff around and get past their usual adoption nervousness before directly meeting the cat. They will also catch the scent of your cat and begin adapting to the scents of your home.
Let Them Get Slowly Acquainted
When your pets start watching and sniffing at each other, let them. Some pets are naturally cool with each other, and your cat and dog may not need slow-careful training as they meet. However cautious or bold your pets are, let them get acquainted in their own time. Just keep an eye out for conflicts.
Plenty of Treats for Everyone
Finally, don’t forget to dispense treats freely. If your cat gets freaked out or is nervous around your dog, pet the cat and feed them treats in the same room as the dog. If your dog gets a swipe, comfort them with treats and scruffles. Eventually, you may be able to pet both animals at once, feeding them treats to help them get accustomed to being happy near each other.
Introducing a dog to your family cat can be challenging, but it’s something anyone can do with patience and sweet pets. But dog training is an important part of this process and future peace in the house. If are bringing a new dog into a cat home, we can help. Contact Canine Commander today to schedule training lessons that your dog needs to play nicely with your cat.