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How to Avert a Roommate War, or Introducing Your Dog to His New Feline Best Friend

Posted by Evan Weber on

There is a common phrase out the world that has been bandied about for ages: “fighting like cats and dogs”. Where it comes from exactly is a mystery, because in a majority of homes, dogs and cats share living quarters quite amiably. In fact, it is often more difficult to introduce a second female cat or a second male dog to a household than it is a member of the other species.

To make a successful inter-species introduction in the average household, the only real prerequisite is a dog who understands a few simple commands and a sturdy baby gate to separate them when necessary. The dog who has learned to respond to basics such as “leave it,” “down” and “come” can most likely be controlled around a new cat while indoors. Outside the home however is another matter entirely. Many otherwise cat-friendly dogs view the cat who is outside as prey to be chased down and dispatched. 

Whether you are getting a new cat or a new dog, the first introduction between your current pet and new pet is an important part of the process. If you are adopting a dog, do not take your cat to meet him at a shelter, or any other place that houses a number of animals for health and safety reasons. Instead, the introduction should take place at home. If you are adopting a cat, the same goes for your dog. Do not take him into a shelter and expose him to the cats, as this can be highly stressful or traumatic for the other cats. It is not necessarily a good indicator of how the dog will react at home. Instead, ask the shelter’s adoption counselors whether they have any confident cats they will allow to meet your dog under controlled conditions. As a last resort, you can bring your new kitty home and do the introduction at home.

Over the first few days of having the new roommate, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each one plenty of time to investigate the other one’s scent. Sometimes your dog should be confined to a crate or in another room (or taken to another location if he can’t be left alone) to allow the cat time to roam free and investigate the smell of the dog. If the dog obsessively digs at the separation barrier or barks at the cat for more than a day or two, the interaction likely won’t work without proper training. You may need the help of a professional.

Once the dog is no longer obsessed with hunting down and investigating the cat and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box it is probably safe to allow both animals to be in the same room at the same time, but do keep the dog securely leashed. This type of introduction should continue until the dog is calm and ignores the cat, and the cat is calm, eating and using the litter box normally. Take care to notice during this introductory time if the dog stares at the cat or the door separating the cat for long periods of time. try to distract him and get him to look away with a happy voice or gently guide him away on a leash. You can even tempt him away with treats such as, Antlerz-M by VIANDPET, a 100% naturally shed deer antler. This all-natural dog treat is rich in calcium and phosphorus, will not splinter and is great for heavy chewing puppies or adult dogs. This premium dog treat is a wonderful alternative to raw bones!

Never assume that the cat of your dreams will automatically love the dog in your life.  If your pet of either species already runs your household, don’t expect him or her to roll out the welcome mat to a new addition whether it is a young puppy, adolescent, kitten or full grown cat. 

Remember, if you want to share your home with a dog and cat, it can be done, and most often in a kind, even in a holistic and natural way.  Will they become fast friends? There are no guarantees, but cats and dogs can be taught to form bonds and become friendly.  It takes patience and time on your part. 

Many households have dogs and cats living together, peacefully and happily.  Will your home be one of them?


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