How to Introduce Dogs and Cats
Bringing home a new pet is an extremely exciting time. However, you will need to introduce your new pet to any existing pets in the home, and it is important that you do this carefully to prevent them from having a bad interaction.
This is especially important when introducing dogs and cats, since things can go very wrong here in some cases if you are not careful. Luckily, properly introducing dogs and cats to each other is easy, even if it does take some time to do properly.
In this article, we will be explaining everything that pet owners need to know about properly introducing dogs and cats to one another. This will include a step-by-step process on how to do it and how to tell when things are starting to go awry in the introduction.
Can Dogs and Cats Get Along?
Luckily, many dogs get along with cats, and many cats get along with dogs. There is no rule saying that dogs and cats can’t be friends, especially when both are well-socialized with the other species from a young age.
However, there will sometimes be a dog with a high prey drive or rough nature, and these dogs should not be around cats. Similarly, some cats simply will not like dogs, and it may be best to keep these cats away from dogs as well.
How to Introduce Dogs and Cats
However, you will be able to introduce a dog and cat when they do well with the other species. The good news is that introducing these two species is pretty easy, especially when both animals are friendly and well-tempered. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to introduce dogs and cats.
Step 1: Get the New Pet Used to their New Environment
When bringing a new pet home, it is a good idea to get them used to their surroundings before introducing them to your other pet. Put your new pet in a safe room that your other pet cannot get into. This will allow your new pet to explore their surroundings and get used to their new home.
Step 2: Get Your Pets Used to the Others’ Scent
Once your new pet seems comfortable and confident in their new space, you can then start getting your pets used to each other’s scents. This will allow your pets to be introduced to each other without direct contact.
To do this, get a toy or blanket with your new pet’s scent and another with your existing pet’s scent. Place these items in a place that is easy for your pets to reach. (Place the item with your new pet’s scent in a room with your other pet, and vice versa.)
If you have more than one existing pet. Get multiple items with each pet’s scent. Place these items in your new pet’s area separately to not overwhelm them.
Step 3: Introduce Your Pets Through a Screen Door
Once all of your pets are now used to each other’s scents, you can then slowly begin introducing them more directly. The best thing to do at this stage is to introduce the dog and cat through a barrier such as a screen door, a glass door, or a gate that your pets cannot get through.
Doing this allows your pets to see, hear, and smell each other. However, they will still not be in direct contact just yet.
Step 4: Introduce Them Face to Face with Your Dog On a Leash
Once your pets have had several positive interactions with a barrier between them, you can then introduce your pets face to face. At this point, it is best to do this introduction with your dog on a leash. There are several benefits to doing this.
For one thing, your dog being leashed prevents your dog from rushing up on your cat and scaring them. Doing this will also give you more control over the situation, which will make you, and consequently, your pets, feel more comfortable and relaxed during this first direct interaction. It will also make it easier to stop the interaction if you need to.
When doing this first interaction, it is ok to allow your pets to be curious and sniff at each other. However, it is a good idea to prevent both pets from becoming too pushy or overbearing, as this could easily frighten the other pet and make them standoffish.
Step 5: Monitor Your Pets When They Interact and Get Used to Each Other
Once you have had a few positive leashed interactions, it should be ok to allow your dog to be off leash with your cat in the room. However, you should continue to monitor your pets, as they are still getting used to each other.
How to Tell if a Dog Does Well Around Cats
A dog that does well around cats will not try to chase or tackle them. While a bit of chasing is not necessarily a huge problem, signs of a high prey drive accompanied by chasing definitely is. Some signs of a high prey drive in dogs include staring, snapping or trying to bite, and lunging. Some dogs with a high prey drive may also growl or bark excessively at cats.
Ideally, you will want to see your dog be curious about the cat, but not be aggressive or overly pushy toward them. They can be playful with the cat as long as this doesn’t involve rough play. If your dog is indifferent towards cats, this is ok as well.
How to Tell if a Cat Does Well Around Dogs
Cats that do well around dogs will not be overly frightened of them or aggressive toward them. Ideally, you will want a cat to be curious or indifferent about a dog’s presence.
Signs That You Should Separate Your Dog and Cat Immediately
You should separate cat and dog interactions immediately if one of the pets seems frightened, even if there is no aggressive behavior present. Of course, you should end interactions immediately if there are aggressive behaviors present as well.
If you are looking to introduce dogs and cats near Port Townsend, Washington region, contact Pet Townsend Veterinary Clinic. Our vets can give expert advice to healthily introduce new pets into the home. Give us a call today at (360) 379-1133, or Request an Appointment Online.