Cats and dogs don’t have to fight like… well, cats and dogs. They can live peacefully together and even develop close bonds. But first they need to be safely introduced.
Before You Start
Considerations for New Roommates
While many cats and dogs can live happily together, not all are suited for it. Consider some of these factors when deciding how to introduce a cat and dog, how careful to be, and whether it is even fair to try:
When introducing a dog and cat for the first time, safety for both animals should be the priority. Even small dogs can seriously injure or kill cats. And cats can cause eye injuries and lacerations to even large dogs.
TrainingTeach your dog some basic manners so you can let them know what is expected of them around the cat. If you want to be able to call your dog away from the cat, take some time to teach them “come”. “Leave it”, “stay”, and “go to place/crate/bed” may also come in handy. You don’t want the dog to associate these cues and/or the cat with punishment or fear as that can lead to aggression so always use positive-reinforcement based training techniques. Learn more about finding a dog trainer here.
Making New Friends
To help your dog and cat become safe and happy friends (or at least polite roommates), focus on two big ideas:
Prevent Negative Interactions
All Good Things
Provide all good things when the animals are together (as long as it’s safe). Feeding time, treat time, and cuddles can all be shared in the same room. Quiet play is good too; just be careful to keep the energy level under control as trouble can start when excitement gets too high. Start with plenty of distance so that everyone is calm and relaxed. Continue to give each animal space and dedicated interaction as they need it but the more positive experiences that they have in one another’s presence, the more good associations they will have with one another.
Keep Up The Good Work
Happily Ever After?
Building a relationship between different species can take time and energy but having happy pets and a peaceful household is worth the work. The consequences of a bad introduction can be devastating so don’t rush things. If your hard work seems to be paying off, keep things on track by:
If You’re Struggling
For some cats and some dogs, friendship may not be in the cards. You may always need to do some type of separation and supervision with your pets. Whether or not you feel they can live safely and happily in the same home will depend on many factors so involve a professional if you have any concerns.
If your cat has a behavior problem that you need help solving, consider scheduling a private behavior consultation.