Are you thinking of getting a dog but you already have a cat? Are you afraid they won’t get along? There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing dogs and cats in harmony. Is this an impossible dream? Not really. You just need to be patient, have realistic expectations and keep a few things in mind.
1. PREPARE YOUR HOME BEFORE THE NEW PET ARRIVES.
In the beginning, the dog and the cat will need to be separate from each other, so make sure you have a space ready. Whatever arrangement you need to do, make sure you do it at least one week before the new pet arrives, so the old one has time to accept the changes.
It is very important to make sure the cat feels safe— it doesn’t matter if he’s the new one or the old one in your home. He should have a dog-free zone where he can rest and move freely. Cats attack when they are cornered, so they should be given the possibility to run and hide. They should have their own toys, food and litter box out of the dog’s reach so they can play, eat and go to toilet without stress.
READ MORE: 7 DOGS WHO FANCY THEIR FELINES
2. TAKE THINGS SLOWLY.
Before meeting face to face, it is important that they get to know each other’s scents. For a few days, they should be in separate rooms, but alternate rooms from time to time so they can sniff each other and investigate each other’s areas. Make sure you give them rewards, so that they have a positive association with the new smell. Also, let them sniff each other under the door, and whenever you can, feed them on separate sides of the same door. Eventually, let them see each other but make sure there is a barrier between them so there is no contact.
3. MAKE THE FIRST FACE TO FACE INTRODUCTION.
Once the cat doesn’t run away when he senses the dog on the other side, they may be ready to meet. When you introduce them, make sure the dog is on a leash in case he wants to chase the cat, but don’t pull him too much. Don’t let them make physical contact with each other, just let them get used to their presence. The first meeting should be short and pleasant— show them equal amounts of love to avoid jealousy.
Little by little increase the length of these sessions— always have the dog on a leash and never restrain the cat or he will get more nervous. The cat should be able to wander and explore freely. After some time, when they seem comfortable with each other, the dog will be trained not to chase the cat so you can let him off the leash. But still, be there to supervise. Do not leave them together alone until you are sure they’ll be fine. Make sure you reward the dog every time he doesn’t try to chase the cat or even if he ignores him.
Keep in mind this can take weeks so be patient.
- Don’t force physical proximity. Don’t throw the cat close to the dog or vice versa. Don’t hold the cat near the dog’s face or he will scratch him. Let the cat decide when to approach.
- Never restrain the cat.
- Don’t leave them alone together until they can socialize relatively well. Leave them in separate rooms while you are gone.
- Don’t punish them if they don’t react the way you expect. It is very important that they have only positive associations with each other. On the other hand, any good behavior around each other should be rewarded.