Here are some tips I can offer on introducing your cat and your dog or visa Versa. I have had many cats and dogs living in the same home and these techniques seemed to work when all else fails. You may find that one day they get along and all of a sudden one turns on the other if introduced too quickly.
They both need to understand that they need to share the space and home. You will need to read their body language to determine the appropriate times for the introduction.
You will want to make sure you have no distractions that will interfere with the process of the introduction. They will need your complete focus, patience, and consistency. You will need to help them build trust in one another.
Practice These Steps
- Keep the pets separate for at least the first 3 days. You want to allow the pets to get used to each other’s presence without eye to eye contact. Make sure they can’t see each other first. They do hear and smell each other even in separate areas. So start behind a closed door in separate rooms.
- Have them associate the different spaces. One is for the dog, One is for the Cat and the remainder is a common area they both have to share.
- Teach them to associate the presence of the other pet with pleasant things, such as food. With each feeding, move their food bowls a little closer to the closed door or baby gate if your dog is small. Continue this process until each pet can eat calmly right next to the door then try a baby gate.
- Once your pets can eat their food calmly and non-reactive next to the barrier, start to conduct all meet and greets in a common area of the house. Don’t use either animal’s private area. Keep the first few sessions short and calm. Try not to be nervous. They will sense any anxiety and react to that.
- Keep the dog on a leash and let the cat come and go as he wishes.
- Do not restrain either pet ever. Do not force an introduction or injuries could result if either pet behaves reactively to one other. Ask the dog to sit or lay down and reward him with small tasty treats for calm behavior. Practice this to understand your dog’s body language.
- Give your cat treats as well. If either pet demonstrates suspicious behavior, calmly distract and redirect them. LIke toss a toy for the cat to lure him from the room, or call the dog’s name and reward his attention. You can distract them and their attention away from each other until they react in an appropriate manner. But YOU must reward them for all GOOD interactions.
- Return the pets to their separate areas. Praise them if it went successful.
- Repeat these face-to-face sessions daily. Save your pets’ favorite treats for when they are together. If the cat attempts to leave the room, allow him to do so, and do not let the dog chase him. Try to end each session before either pet shows stress or any signs that they are uncomfortable. Especially if one is showing aggression.
- When the animals appear to be getting along well, allow them loose in the room together, keeping the dog’s leash attached and dragging on the floor so that you can step on it and prevent him from chasing the cat if he gets excited. Make sure your cat has a safe place to jump away from the dog.
- If tension starts again, you have to repeat from step 1 until ALL experiences are good for each animal and repeat the process. This can happen many times. You will be almost to the point you can let them free in the same room and one may react in a not so good way. You will then have to start over and repeat until you can make it all the way through the steps.
- Make sure the cat has access to a dog-proof sanctuary room at all times.
- Continue to separate the pets when you are not there to supervise. This can take time. Days or weeks may be needed. But in the long run, it will be worth it. You will be able to eventually trust them alone.
Remember they rely on you to teach them confidence and social skills. You need to teach them how to make the right choices. Help build trust between them.
Keep These In Mind
Most of all DO NOT YELL at them. This only will confuse them and make it a bad experience. Keep all experiences positive at all times possible. Be patient, they really are no different than teaching a child manners. Use a soft voice and use lots of praise when they are doing great. Separate them when it does not go so good, without punishing them. They do not understand. You need to understand they were not ready yet. It takes time and a lot of commitment.
You must be consistent, loving and patient. They will pick up on that and trust that you are not exposing them to any threats or harm.
Don’t give up if it doesn’t work on the first day. It takes time. You can do it! If not and you’re finding it frustrating. You can call a professional trainer. Most of them have a lot of experience and can be a great help when you’re trying to do it alone. Remember the cost is worth it. You will only need one or two sessions with a good trainer. They range from $60.00- $120.00 for a consultation.
If you have two cats we have a great blog article on Introducing your Kitten to Another Cat.