Some people may fear keeping both pet dogs and pet cats in their household. However, you can take the lead role when introducing a dog and cat so that they can live peacefully. If you ever wonder “how do I introduce a dog to my cats?”, the following steps will guide you to make the cat and dog introduction a success.
1. Observe the Body Language of Both Pets
From the body language of the cat, you can tell if it is excited, pleased, or scared by the dog’s presence. If your cat pins back the ear or starts whipping or swishing the tail, it is a sign of fear and aggression. However, it is the body language of your dog that should concern you more. If the dog becomes fixated on the cat and eyeballs move with every movement of the cat, it may trigger a strong prey drive. This refers to the tendency of a dog to chase smaller animals it perceives as prey. When your dog is new to cats, there will be tension and aggression.
2. Create a Dog-Free Sanctuary for Your Cat
The second answer to “how do I introduce a dog to my cats?” is having a safe space for your cat that the dog cannot access. Moreover, you can choose to keep your dog on a leash at all times. Whatever means you use, you need to control the cat-dog interaction, or the dog may start chasing your cat. The point is to keep your cat and dog within a safe distance, to help prevent any possible face-to-face confrontations. At the same time, the two animals are slowly getting used to each other’s presence because they can smell and hear each other. This will be necessary to reduce and manage the aggression levels when you finally decide to have them interact face-to-face.
3. Dog Behavior Training
When the cat and dog are used to each other’s presence, you may then consider face-to-face interactions. Nonetheless, this process should be gradual and not forced. You may step up the interactions by feeding them close to each other and at the same time. When you are in the room, you can let go of the dog’s leash and see how it behaves when the cat is nearby. In case of aggressive behavior, you can pull it back by the leash. This will allow you to stop aggressive behavior by invoking the basic commands — sit, come, stop, down, and so forth. You should also reward the dog’s positive behavior towards the cat. This way, you will be conditioning your dog to respect the cat’s presence. Soon enough, your dog and cat will start to get along well.
4. Repeat the Face-to-Face Sessions Daily
The last answer to “how do I introduce a dog to my cats?” is increasing the frequency of your dog and cat face-to-face interaction each day under your supervision. This will give the two animals quality time to interact, and you will also have more time to train them. At this point, you may consider letting your dog off its leash for longer times when you’re in the room to monitor and control the interaction. As time goes by, your cat and dog will be more comfortable sharing a room, and their interaction will be friendly and civil.
The steps above will answer your question, “how do I introduce a dog to my cats?”. Dogs and cats can peacefully live together if the introductions and interactions are handled well. Given that 38.9 million American households own cats, knowing how to introduce a dog to a cat is a key skill that pet owners should possess. It takes varying amounts of time for dogs and cats to get along. In some cases, the dog may be new to cats, or the cat may not have lived with a dog before. This will call for your patience all through the introduction process, until the point where you can safely leave your dog and cat in the house without supervision.
At Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center we are happy to provide a wide range of veterinary specialty and emergency services. It is important to have a “primary care” veterinarian to keep your new family member healthy and happy with routine vaccinations and health checks. But if you find yourself in the midst of a veterinary emergency, our team of experienced veterinarians is here to help. When it comes to visiting animal hospitals, we understand that the experience can be full of stress and worry, so we aim to make things as simple as possible. For more information, get in touch with one of our experts today.