Introducing Your New Cat To Your Dog
It’s a pretty common stereotype that dogs and cats don’t get along. If you love both animals and you want to own one of each, the good news is that it is very possible for dogs and cats to be lifelong friends. The trick is introducing them in the proper way. The most important part of the introductions is supervision. You should be present at all interactions between the animals to maintain a controlled environment.
First, make sure your dog knows his commands (sit, stay, down, come). Even if you’re confident that your dog responds to these, hold a few practice sessions where you reward him for obeying. This will reaffirm that he will be obedient in a more exciting setting.
Begin by feeding both the dog and cat on opposite sides of a door for a few days. They won’t be able to see each other, but they will catch the other animal’s scent as they eat. After they have done this for a few days, set up a controlled meeting. Have the dog lying down and on a leash on one end of the room while another person brings the cat in on the other side. Allow them to both see each other, and then take them both out of the room and reward them for behaving.
As you begin to gradually increase the length of these visits and the animals seem to be responding well to each other, you may allow the cat to roam the room freely. The dog should remain on his leash and lying down, and be sure to give him praise and reward for obeying any commands you give him in the cat’s presence. This will reinforce good behavior around the cat. Be sure that you don’t punish him for bad behavior around the cat, or else he will begin to associate the cat with negative experiences.
As the animals get more comfortable with each other, you may allow the dog to stand up and walk around, although still on the leash. Eventually, based on the actions of the two animals, you will be able to allow the dog off the leash. At this point, they should get along fine. It’s a good idea to supervise them when possible, but they should be well enough adjusted to each other that they can live in peace. Remember to keep the cat’s litter box and food in a place where the dog can’t reach it, and you’re on your way to a happy mixed animal home!