Option : Slow And Steady Desensitization
If your dog is too fixated on the cat, you can try desensitization, the goal of which is to reduce your dogs reaction to the cat by gradually increasing her exposure to him. Put the cat in a room with a tall baby gate across the door. The room you choose should be one the dog cannot access and doesnt need to access. For example, if the dog sleeps in the bedroom with you at night, dont pick that room for the cat. The idea is to separate them and only allow them to view each other during specific times.
In his room, give the cat all needed supplies: litter box, toys, food and water. Keep in mind that cats are good at squeezing through small gaps and are also good climbers and jumpers. So, make sure your cat cant get past the gate you put up. The gate needs to be a barrier that allows the cat and dog to see one another, but does not allow them to access each other.
To begin desensitization, let the dog view the cat briefly through the gate, and then get the dog to focus on something else, such as playing with a toy or practicing cues. Sometimes it helps to keep the dog on leash so that you can move her away from the cat when you try to refocus her attention. Praise and reward the dog for being able to focus elsewhere. Continue to give the dog short viewings of the cat throughout the day.
But Don’t Leave Them Unsupervised
Introductions should always be conducted under direct supervision, which entails actively monitoring and preventing any problems through positive distractions, such as luring the pets with food or toys.
International Cat Care says: “Supervise at all times and be constantly vigilant for any outward signs of emotional arousal such as fear or excitement, changes in body language or posture.”
When in doubt that things may become intense, always err on the side of caution and end the meeting while both pets appear to be relaxed. “Don’t take a chance and allow it to go wrong,” warns the charity.
As the dog and cat appear to be more calm and comfortable around each other, owners should continue to praise and reward them for the positive interactions so that these behaviors become ingrained.
But “until you’re sure of the outcome, which could take a few weeks to a few months, don’t leave them together on their own,” the AKC says.
Even when your pets are at a stage where they can co-exist without supervision, owners still need to take precautionary measures for the safety of both pets, such as keeping the cat’s nails trimmed or covered in nail caps to prevent injury to your dog.
Cats should also have a permanent dog-free space in the house using baby gates or a cat door, the AKC says.
When You First Bring Your New Dog Or Puppy Home
On the day you bring your dog home, secure your cat in their favourite room with their bed and bedding, water, food and litter. Allow your dog to explore the house and then secure them in a room of their own with comfy bedding, water and a treat. While your dog settles down allow your cat to explore the house and become familiar with your dogs scent. Repeat this over the next few days, allowing each animal their turn to have access to the whole house without ever confronting one another. In the meantime, work on basic training with your dog or puppy so that you have some control over them when it comes to introducing the dog/puppy to your cat.
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Start Careful Exposure Through A Barrier
Now that the cat and dog are familiar with each others smells, its time to get them used to hearing each other. Youll need two people for the next few steps, so enlist a friend or family member if you live alone.
Have one person with the cat on one side of the closed door, and the other with the dog on the other side. Each person should do something fun with their pet. For example, you could do treat training with the dog, or play with a tug toy or a flirt pole like the Outward Hound Tail Teaser. For the cat, try a Frisco Bird Teaser or other toy, or if your cat likes , do treat training with your cat, too! The idea is to get both pets enjoying themselves, while also hearing the other pet beyond the door.
Good training goals to work on with your dog during this period are coming when called, eye contact , and leave itall three will come in handy when the cat and dog are in the same space together later on.
At first, one or both pets may be too distracted by the sound of the other pet to play or eat treats. Keep practicingwith the door closed and both pets having funfor as long as it takes for both pets to be completely focused on the game or the food.
Things To Consider Before Getting A New Dog Or Cat
If you already have a pet, whether its a dog or a cat, its important to think about how any potential new pets will interact with those already in your home.
Before you add a new pet to your household, take into consideration their age, breed and past experiences, Molloy told The Dodo. This can affect your choice of new pet, which in turn can make the friendship more likely to succeed. If you’re adopting from a shelter, look for a dog who has lived harmoniously with a cat before .
Puppies and kittens tend to do well with new environments and experiences, but that can also depend on their temperament and what theyve been exposed to in the past, Molloy said. For example, has your puppy been around other types of animals, or has she only been around your family ?
And while personality always matters much more than breed, its worth noting that certain types of dogs are less friendly toward cats on average.
Breed-wise, some working lines, such as herding, hunting or protection dogs, are more likely to display undesirable behavior toward a cat and see them as something to be herded or hunted, Molloy said.
This doesnt mean that, for example, a husky cant be friends with a cat, but you should pay close attention to each animals individual temperament before moving forward with a new adoption.
These are all important things to think about when deciding if your pet will do well with another animal.
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Lesson : Petting With A Glove Or Hand
In this lesson, youll progress to petting the cat with just a glove or hand, without the presence of the wand. To do this, youll need to use food as motivation.
Here are the steps:
- Put baby food or deli meat on the tip of your gloved finger or your bare finger and move it slowly toward the cat. Stop when you reach the back of the litter box and rest your finger there with the food.
- Most of the time, the cat will come to you and begin licking the baby food or gently eating the meat. If that doesnt happen, slowly move your finger toward the cats nose, talking in a soothing tone the whole time. Entice the cat to eat by letting him smell the food.
- Once hes eaten, slowly reach high into the cage and with one finger touch the top of the cats head. If he reacts favorably, continue to pet the back of the cats head. If he looks like he might raise his head to bite, you can firmly push the cats head forward and a little down. This gives the cat a chance to change his mind and gives you a chance to move your hand out of the way.
- If the cat prefers to be touched on the back, start there and work your way toward the cats head.
- If the cat reacts negatively at any point, go back to a spot where the cat reacted positively to your touch and try again. As always, go slow and be patient.
- End the session on a positive note by giving the cat a treat.
When Can I Let Them Live Together Normally
Gradually, as the cat becomes more used to your dog, you can allow more interaction. Keep your dog on the lead and let your dog approach the cat for a sniff and then call your dog away. Give your dog a tasty treat every time they look away from the cat and look towards you instead.
Try to ensure that your dog is never allowed to chase your cat. Dogs can find this very exciting and it can be difficult to stop once this behaviour has started. Reward your dog for ignoring or turning away from the cat.
After a couple of weeks youll have a good idea if its safe to let your dog off the lead when the cat is present. If the cat is a very shy or timid, it may take longer. Try to be patient and do things slowly and with care. Even the most cat-friendly dogs can sometimes take time to accept a new cats arrival.
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Matching Cats And Dogs
- If youre thinking of getting a cat for your dog or a dog for your cat, its important to consider both animals personalities. It may be helpful to look for a companion that has already been exposed to the other species in the past.
- If a dog attempts to aggressively chase, pin, pick up or otherwise manhandle any cat, it is best to not even consider getting a cat or at least to proceed with caution. Additionally, a dog who growls, lunges at or obsessively barks at a cat would probably do best in a cat-free environment. Likewise, a cat who growls, swats at, runs from or hides from dogs would probably prefer to not live with a dog.
- If a dog loves chasing things, then a fearful, shy cat who runs away probably wouldnt be the best choice, as it could trigger the dog to chase. Similarly, an energetic cat who runs and pounces would fall into this same category. A better match here would be a calm, confident cat who will not run .
- If a dog plays roughly, it is best to avoid kittens or elderly cats who can easily be hurt. Instead, stick to playful adults who are interested in play, but are also confident enough to take care of themselves. If a cat is rambunctious or playful, a dog that is playful, but gentle, could be a great option.
- If a dog or cat is elderly, laid back, quiet or anxious, then a calm counterpart would be best. Avoid rambunctious companions who may annoy, frighten or otherwise bother the other pet.
Start Slowly With Supervised Visits
Now it’s time for supervised visits with both pets in the same room. These introductions need to be done slowly, and your dog should always be on a leash. Your kitten should have places to hide or climb to that are out of your dog’s way. These visits might take a few weeks or more before your pets are comfortable with each other.
Take your time. Start on opposite sides of a room, then slowly let them be closer. Some people opt to start the introductions with their dog in a crate before moving on to a leash.
Watch for signs of tense body language. If your pets are relaxed, see if you can distract them or if they stay focused on each other. Will your dog respond to your commands? Keep the visits short at first. Gradually make them longer, and let your pets be closer to each other as long as they act calmly. Reward them with treats each time, so they make positive associations with seeing each other.
Realistically, you might not ever leave your kitten and dog alone until your kitten is older, especially if your dog has a strong prey drive. This isn’t because anything’s wrong with your dog or your cat. The simple fact is that kittens play a lot, and this can sometimes trigger a dog’s prey drive. It’s better to err on the side of caution and take as long as you need. Eventuallyespecially once your kitten is a little olderyour pets will be calm around each other. Over time, they could even become good friends.
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How To Introduce Cats
Step One Prep: Scheduled Meals and Basecamp
Before you bring your new cat home, there are some fundamental steps to accomplish that will give you a significant leg up on the process:
A.No free-feeding Make sure you have switched your existing cat over to a routine of meal feeding, rather than free feeding her. This concept is foundational to my approach, and nowhere is it more important than during the introduction process. Once these scheduled meal times are established, it will set the stage for both your existing cat and your newcomer to experience a shared, ritualistic way of being: they get fed, around the same time, x-number of times per day.
B. Separate Base Camp Base camp is a defined area of your home that is the heart of a cats territory. So first, decide where youre going to set up base camp for the new cat, so he feels like this space is essentially all his own. This could be the master or a spare bedroom, an office, or even the bathroom when there is no other option. As long as the human scent is strong, it will help the cat establish a sense of home by comingling scents.
In addition, here are a few other important elements associated with successful base camp protocol:
- No Peeking: One of the hallmarks of this integration method is that the new cat and the resident will not initially lay eyes on each other. This is non-negotiable. Ignore this part of the introduction process at your own peril!
Follow this simple process for harmonious site swapping:
Plan For Success Practical Tips To Get Things Right From The Start
The first step in introducing cats and dogs is to ensure that whichever animal is already resident in the home is as unaffected as possible.
Consider the space
Whether its a new cat coming home to a resident dog, or vice versa, the existing pet needs to have a safe place to be, which contains all of their necessary and desired resources including, food, water, toys, sleeping areas, etc. . Extra resources may need to be bought and can be distributed throughout the home so the cat and dog are not having to share.
Ideally this space should be where they normally choose to be, and where they feel safe and happy. For example, if the dog is already resident and normally spends most time downstairs, then leave it there and make that the centre of their world for a while or if an already-resident cat likes to be upstairs, that is where they can stay.
Plan who will live where initially, the home will need to be time-shared so that each pet can have their own safe space to happily occupy, without needing to encounter each other.
This space should allow for the existing pet to live life without any major curtailments of freedoms, choices or permissions, for example, can the cat access the cat flap when it likes, or its favourite perch on the top of the bookshelf? Can the dog roam in and out of the door to the garden as it always does?
Set any new items up gradually
Make the new arrival mean great extra things happen in the resident pets life
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Observing Canine And Feline Body Language
The first thing you want to do is pay attention to the body language of both animals. Ideally, the body language of both pets will be loose and relaxed. In particular, watch how they look at each other. As you watch the dog, notice whether he can look at the cat and then look away. If he cannot, this may indicate that he is too excited or aroused. Observe the dogs head and face if the dog appears excessively focused on the cat, try calling him or snapping your fingers. If you can distract him relatively easily, his behavior suggests he doesnt have an unhealthy degree of interest in the cat.
If your dog has a strong prey drive, he might become very focused on the cat. Hell stiffen, stare, glare, and may start barking or whining. If you see these signs, do not let the cat and dog get close to one another . Its OK if the dog pays attention to the cat, but you dont want to see him fixated on her.
How the cat looks at the dog is equally important, but pay attention to the other forms of feline body language, too. Once it is clear that the cat has seen the dog, observe whether the cat seems relaxed. A relaxed cat will move about calmly and confidently, will not glare at the new dog, and will not try to flee from the dog. If the cat is growling, hissing or attempting to scratch, it means she is currently uncomfortable. That doesnt necessarily mean that she wont accept the dog it might just take a little more time.