A home with a dog and a cat may be many things – crowded, furry, with chewed toys and scratched chair legs everywhere – but it’s never uninteresting. The biggest mistake that most pet owners make is to just introduce a puppy or dog into a house with a cat and expect them to get along. This almost never works.
Introducing your Dog to Kitty
The best way to introduce your cat to the new member of the family is through limited exposure. Place the cat in a different room when you get your new dog in. Remember to bring him on a leash. This tells him that he is entering a home where there are rules to follow and will prevent him from bounding about the place. Use a crate to restrain him while you introduce the cat in to the room. Allow the cat to explore the new member of the family through the safety of the caret. If the dog barks at the cat, scold him. If he won’t stop barking try more sever punishment like covering the crate with a towel. This may seem harsh but it lays down the rules for sharing the home with another animal. You don’t have to keep the dog in the crate through out the acclimatization period. But remember to keep the cat in a separate room when the dog comes out.
Once the dog has reached the point where it doesn’t bark when the cat comes into the room, it’s ready to be let out of the crate. Remember to use a muzzle however and keep him on a leash. If the dog displays aggression towards the cat, correct him firmly. This is the time to make him aware that the cat is a member of the family pack. The trick is to correct him en he is just beginning to display aggressive behaviour towards the cat. If you catch him looking at the cat with an ‘I could take her on‘ expression, you know it’s time for a correction. Don’t wait till they are both growling and hissing at each other. Then he’s likely to associate the correction to a threat from the cat.
While introducing puppies into a home with cats always make sure to protect the puppy, not the cat. Your cat’s claws are sharp enough to gouge out the pup’s eyes. In this case it’s the cat who will need to be in a crate till she learns that the pup is a new member of the family.
Also remember that when dogs chase cats they don’t do it out of aggression. They aren’t threatened by the feline competition. It’s prey drive that makes them go after a kitten, the same instinct that makes them chase after birds or anything that moves. There have been instances where dogs and cats have lived together under the same roof for years without any incidents. Then one day the dog sees the cat run across the yard and the prey drive kicks in. It doesn’t take a large dog a great deal of energy to kill a cat.
A dog cat relationship is one of the most difficult to monitor. Proceed cautiously. When you’re; with both of them, pet the dog first so he knows that he is a higher member of the family. Don’t try to feed them off the same bowls or the other things that that look like a Kodak moment. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster.