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How to Introduce a Dog to Cats

Updated on September 6, 2009

How to teach cats and dogs to live happily ever after

So felines have ruled your world up to this day, and now you have decided to add a canine friend to your purring kingdom. The choice of adding a dog to a multi-cat household may appear to be daunting one but it must also be said that it is possible. The key really is to polish a bit your patience and find lots of time to keep a watchful eagle eye on all the dwellers in your home. Following are several tips on how to make this transaction as smooth as possible granting you to enjoy the features of ''both worlds''.

How to Introduce a Dog into a Multi-Cat Household

-Choose Wisely

You know you want a dog but have you done your homework on which dog will match your purring household? The choice must be done very wisely. Indeed, while each dog has its own personality, it must be pointed out that some breeds may be more cat friendly than others. It all comes down to choosing dogs with the lowest prey drives. Low prey drive is what keeps the dog from chasing your cats too much.  For instance, you may want to stay away from a Jindo dog as they have been bred to hunt prey and therefore have a very strong prey drive. Introucing this type of dog to a cat may be the equivalent of trying to introduce a bird or mouse to your cat!


If you are adopting a dog from a shelter or an owner ask if the dog is good with cats. This may help at times in selecting the ideal candidate, however a dog that used to live with cats is not necessarily always a guarantee that he will get along with ''all'' cats. Indeed, there are dogs that may fully respect the cats they have grown up with while they may wildly chase any cats that will visit their yard.

-Start Young

It may be easier to get a puppy so the pup may be taught from a young age to leave the cats alone. Puppies are sort of like sponges, they retain very easily your teachings and will learn quickly to respect the cats. A puppy may be a bit boisterous at first with the cats, but a little swat on its muzzle from a cat that wants to be left alone, may be a good way to calm down his high spirits.

-Go Slowly

One of the biggest problems in introducing dogs to cats and vice versa is the fact that owners often tend to rush such introductions. Dogs live in a world full of scents so it would be helpful if the dog would be kept separate from the cats for the first few days until the dog is used to the cat's smell. It helps to make the dog associate the scent of cats with good things such as giving him a blanket the cats use to sleep on or passing a towel on the cats and then giving it to the dog and then passing a towel on the dog and giving it to the cats. This way the cats will get accustomed to the dog's smell and the dog will get accustomed to the cat smell.

-Allow to Explore Areas

Once the cats and the dog have been getting used to their smells and even sounds, it may be time to try to switch environments for a bit. In other words, place your cats in a room and let the dog sniff deliberatly the areas where the cats spend most of their time, at the same time while the dog is free, place the cats in the room where the dog has spent his time the most.. This is a good way to allow both parties to get a bit more acquainted with each other.

-Use Crates

Often it is hard to introduce dogs to cats because the cats may often be quite timid and hide as soon as they notice an intruder. It helps to place the dog in a crate so the cats may feel a bit less intimidated. Hopefully after a while the cats will come out and deliberately come to sniff the crate and see who is in there. Again, watch for each other's reactions. The cats may be easy to startle, they may jump back if the dog moves suddenly or barks. The dog should be curious and sniff an gain should not exhibit aggressive behavior.

--Keep Leashed

After a few days of getting used to each other's smells, it may be time to allow a ''real'' introduction. Keep your dog leashed at all times to allow you to correct and restrain the dog should he exhibit any aggressive or predatory behaviors. Start by opening the door and allow each other to see each other for the first time. Expect lots of curiosity, the dog may pull on the leash but it is best to keep him a s close to you as possible.  Watch your dog for body cues. Your dog may look curios but he should not look like he is looking foward to enjoy his next meal!

-Repeat Often

This part takes lots of patience and time. You will have to reach a level of trust where you feel comfortable leaving the dog off leash in company with the cats. It is best to keep the leash on temporarily so you can quickly grab it if needed to. If your dog starts showing chasing behaviors, make sure you can teach him to obey a command. The ''off'' or ''leave it'' command is helpful and should be taught early so you can get your dog's attention quickly if necessary. Teach your dog to listen to your no matter what, this takes a lot of leadership skills but it is necessary to create an environment of mutual respect. Always praise when your dog decides to listen to you and leave the cat alone.

-Create ''Cat Zones''

All cats should have a place to retreat  in case the dog has too much energy for them. Cats like to lead peaceful lives and a boisterous dog may disrupt their wish for peace and tranquility. Place cat trees, window perches or tall tables around the home so the cat may run away from the dog and reach a place where they can be left in peace and even snooze.

As seen, cats and dogs can really turn out to be best friends. It takes some time, dedication, patience and the right combination of dog and cats to ensure that things may work out.  Watching felines and canines interact may be quite interesting and will surely grant many moments of fun and pure joy like no other.


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