Are you looking to add a new member to your family? If you already have a dog and are looking to add a cat to your home and your family, there are some things that you need to keep in mind.
Some dogs and cats can live together, but it can all depend on the individual pet’s behavior and personality. Here are some tips to help you introduce your dog to a cat.
Consider Past History
One of the most important things to consider is the history of the dog or cat. If your dog has lived with or has been around cats in the past, they may live with another cat. Also, if the cat you are looking to bring into your home has been around other dogs in the past, the new living arrangements may likely work out. If you are unsure of either animal's history, you will need to introduce the animals slowly to each other to make sure that both pets are comfortable.
Watch for Body Language
Every pet owner knows that the body language of a pet is critical. If you notice that your dog or cat displays certain body language, you will need to stop the introduction or slow it down significantly.
Some of the body language signs that you need to watch for in a dog include whining, staring intensely, and barking. Warning signs for a cat may include a moving tail and pinned back ears. These signs are a red flag for pet owners. If you notice that your dog or cat displays any of these body features, you should immediately stop the introduction and wait until both animals display a relaxed behavior.
Tips to Help with the Introduction
If you are ready to introduce your dog to a cat, you can use these tips to make the encounter more enjoyable and successful.
#1) Introduce Scents
When preparing to introduce two animals, it is often a good idea to introduce one another's scents before actually doing a face to face meeting. You should take a blanket or toy that your dog or cat has and give it to the other animal. This allows both the dog and cat to get used to the new scent before the meeting.
By introducing scents to each animal, you are helping them get used to one another. All animals have a heightened sense of smell, so using scents can help make the meeting more successful.
#2) Using Treats
One of the best ways to help ease a dog into meeting a cat is to use treats for the first time. You can use the treats to help your dog stay calm. Many trainers find that using treats helps a dog stay relaxed and calm dog training sessions.
To help cats feel more relaxed during the first face to face interaction, you should use treats and have your dog sit down when the cat first sees them. This helps the cat feel like an equal to the dog and allows both animals to meet in similar terms.
#3) Introduce in Common Space
When looking to introduce cats and dogs, it is highly recommended that you do not do this in the home. If you have a dog and are looking to add a cat, you should ensure that the first face to face meeting is outside. A dog may become territorial of their home and may not want another animal inside. If possible, you should try to make the first face to face meeting in a common area where neither animal will feel dominant or in control. It’s great to choose a wide and empty area, like a beach.
After the first face to face interaction, you can slowly introduce the new animal to your home. Take it slow and use the previously mentioned tips. These tips can make both animals feel more secure and relaxed. If either animal gets spooked or aggressive, you will need to stop the introduction and try again later. When looking to introduce a new family member, you may want to keep one animal in a home section and another animal in a different section. Allow the animals to come together a few times a day when both are relaxed.
#4) Bring a Friend to Help
One of the best ways to make sure that a face to face introduction is successful is to bring a friend or family member to help. It will be incredibly difficult for one person to watch both animals on their own. If you can bring a person to help, you should.
One person should watch the dog, and the other person should keep their eye on the cat. Both people should look for warning signs and negative body language. If at any point, either animal turns aggressive, there should be a plan for what should happen. You can separate the animals to different home areas or take one animal outside until the other animal is secure and relaxed. If you have a friend who has experience with animals and new introductions, you should try to get them to help.
#5) Take Attention Away from Each Other
While you will want your dog and cat to get along and be friends, this may prove not easy at first. If you notice that your dog and cat are unhappy with one another, you may need to help divert their attention. Try using toys and treats to take the attention away from the dog or cat. This will help each one stay calm and less likely to attack the other, which will make for a better face to face interaction.
Introducing a dog and a cat to one another can be difficult and stressful, but using these tips can help make any introduction more successful. The most important thing is to make sure both animals are comfortable and relaxed. Adding a new member to your family will be worth the stress of new introductions.