Top Tips for Introducing Cats and Dogs
July 10, 2019
Pets living in harmony is the ultimate goal for pet parents, but how do you get there with cats and dogs? Check out these helpful tips for successful relationship building!
Go Slow: We like to remind clients that you can always go too fast, but you can never go too slow. If you try to introduce pets too quickly while they are still uncomfortable with the situation, you can put yourself back to square one or even create a problem between your pets!
Don’t force the introduction: Many people think that holding the cat or putting it in a carrier/cage and then putting it right in the dog’s face is the best way for the dog to smell the cat and get used to the scent. But the cat is part of the equation too and this can really ruin the experience for the cat! You can create a very fearful or defensive cat, putting yourself and/or the animals at risk of being hurt in the process. Instead, rotate blankets and beds so that they get used to each other’s scent without the fear or potential for harm.
Give plenty of vertical space: When we talk about vertical space we are referring to tall towers or shelves that are appropriate for the cat to use and provide safe space out of the dog’s reach. This will help the cats to be comfortable and confident in the space, knowing they are safe and options to get away. You can also give the cat a room with a baby gate on it that the dog does not have access to so they have a private space for their litter, food, and water.
Don’t punish: Using force or punishment can make the situation worse – you risk building the association that the other animal means something negative will happen. Never use prong, choke, or shock collars on any of your pets. Instead, focus on teaching your pets what TO DO through proper training.
Make it a positive experience: Use high-value food or another extremely valuable item like toys, petting, etc when your pets are in the same area. Reward them for looking at each other and being in the same space as one another. Remember – each pet has a different definition of high-value and their reward should be tailored to what they really like. If you need some ideas, just ask!
Train your pets: Both cats and dogs can be trained using positive reinforcement. By using basic cues such as sit, down, place, and look at that, you can teach your pet to be well behaved and calm in the presence of the other animal. Training together can also help build a bond with them. You can train your dog on the floor and your cat up on a table or counter. It will be mentally stimulating and fun for everyone!
PHX Animal Behavior Center works with clients via private sessions and group classes for a variety of behavioral needs. Need more help introducing pets? Give us a call today!