Cats and dogs aren’t meant to get on..at least that is what we are often told. The truth is that cats and dogs can be great friends if steps to carefully introduce them are taken.
Dogs by nature will often want to run after a cat to play with it. Cats rarely take kindly to this sort of behavior so introducing your dog and cat in the correct way is the key to setting them up for a positive long-term friendship.
When welcoming a new dog into a home where you already have a cat, it is important to give your cat space and time to adjust to the new arrival before allowing your dog to freely roam the house.
To prepare for the animals to meet, it is ideal to follow these three tips:
1. Confine your dog to one or two rooms for the first few weeks after they arrive, for example the living room and kitchen.
2. When you bring your dog home, make sure your cat is not out and about as this could lead to a bad meeting with your cat being excitedly chased.
3. Do your best to keep the cat and dog away from each other for the first two or three days after the dog has arrived so that they can have time to adjust to each other’s presence in the house.
2. Swap Their Scents
One of the most effective ways to help them adjust is by scent swapping.
Scent is very important for cats and dogs, you can use this to help them adjust to the idea of each other before they meet.
Follow these three tips to get your pets familiar with each other's scent:
1. Before they meet each other, you should swap items of bedding and toys that they both enjoy so that they can have a good sniff and become familiar with each other’s scent.
2. Hang out with your dog before you go and see your cat so that their scent is all over you, do the same when you go back to see your dog. This will allow their scent to mix and will help them to get used to the idea of each other before they meet.
3. When you take your dog out for a walk allow your cat to visit your dog’s room to further familiarize themselves with the dog before they meet.
Once your cat has had a few days (three should be sufficient) of scent swapping then it is time for them to meet each other.
Follow these tips to ensure a smooth introduction:
1. Introduce them after your dog has been out on a long walk so that they will be more tired out and therefore far calmer.
2, Keep the dog on a short lead and hold them tight so that they can’t make any sudden movements which might scare your cat.
3. Take your dog to the far side of the room and allow your cat to decide if they wish to come closer and say hello.
4. Do your best to prevent your dog from looking at the cat directly for too long or from barking at them, this can be hard to achieve but some of their favorite tasty treats might help.
5. Repeat the process every day, keeping the interactions short.
Typically, it will take a couple of weeks (depending on the nature of your dog) before they are used to each other and your dog works out how to behave around a cat.When you reach this stage it is then okay to allow your dog a bit more freedom in the vicinity of the cat.
The golden rule is: Don’t let your dog chase the cat.
If your dog does chase the cat this will mean that it takes a whole lot longer for your cat to learn to trust the dog and your dog will continue to think that the cat is playing chase with him every time it runs off.
We hope you find this guide useful, there is no reason why cats and dogs can’t get along it just takes patience (from you as much as the cat!), so don’t despair if your dog still wants to chase the cat after a month or two. Just keep reinforcing good behavior and do your best to discourage barking and chasing of the cat...eventually your dog will get it and your house will be at ease!