Often this time of year a new dog or puppy finds a new home, and often that new home has a cat or a few cats already in residence. We asked our friends at Rover for some advice for introducing a new dog to cats so that the transition is as peaceful and harmonious as possible!
How to Expand Your Cat or Dog Family
By Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest, Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.
When you’re ready to bring a new fur baby into the house, you’ll want to think carefully about how and when you introduce them to your other cats and dogs. It can be stressful to get acquainted, so take the time to prepare. Here are some helpful tips from Rover.com.
First, gather as much information as you can about your animal family before the introductions.
- Has the dog you’re inviting into the family had experience with cats? You’ll want to know how he will interact with the cats before you bring him home. The same goes for new cat friends joining a dog family.
- Do you have a dog at home who hasn’t met a cat before? Invite a friend’s cat over to play to see how they interact. If you discover your pup is aggressive or rough with cats, work with a trainer before you bring a cat home. If you’re a cat family, do the same work to ensure they’re ready to welcome home a dog.
- What is the personality of the new cat or dog? Are they playful or mellow? Do they have a quick temper or are they easily frightened? Consider what kind of cat or dog would work best with your current family.
- Think about the age and activity level of your animal family. If you’ve got kittens who like to play, they may respond fine to a younger dog who has lots of energy. However, if you’ve got a chilled out cat, adding an active puppy to the mix may be more difficult than a senior dog who is more relaxed.
When you’re ready for introductions, take your time moving through each phase of the process.
- Before the official introductions, find a separate space for the cat and dog to reside in your home. After a few days, have them switch places. Repeat this process for up to 3 days. This will allow them to learn the scent of the other animal before physical contact. They may be curious, excited, or anxious about the new smells in the house. This is normal!
- Next allow them in the same room but make sure the dog is on a leash. Allow them up to an hour together in the same room to sniff each other out. Then, separate them for a few hours. Repeat this cycle several times adding a little more time together during each session.
- Once the dog is calm and the cat is comfortable moving around freely, let your dog off leash but continue to oversee their interactions. It may take time, but you’ll know they’re comfortable with each other when your cat eats and uses the litter box freely and your dog is relaxed with the cat. If your dog barks obsessively or becomes aggressive with the cat, you’ll need to work with a trainer.
Don’t worry if it takes longer than you expect. With patience and consistent practice, your family will find their own rhythm living together!