How do you introduce your dog and cat to each other?
The myth that dogs & cats are each other's natural enemies and that their typical body language is unintelligible to each other is in between already outdated. Well socialized dogs and cats can live in perfect harmony with each other. Better yet, some even become inseparable friends! Yet you better give them a hand to make the acquaintance as smooth as possible.
Would you also like to bring a new four-legged friend into your home with your dog or cat? Then read our tips for a responsible introduction between your 2 new friends.
Do you already have a dog at home? First take him for a long walk and let him chase his toys. This way he will lose most of his energy and his hunting instincts will be at a lower level.
Do you already have a cat? Make sure they are relaxed and in a familiar space. Don't give them any unnecessary stimuli beforehand. It is best to introduce your new pet at home because new environments can cause your cat a lot of stress. It is extremely important that both dog and cat feel completely at ease!
Note: Do not let the dog immediately at the cat box, this is private territory for your cat and they could be surly if the dog comes too close to their 'palace'.
There will be a lot of new smells for your four-legged friends! Before you introduce them to each other, let them sniff you first. Through you, they can sniff each other's scent and this is kind of their first introduction.
Time to bring the animals into the house! But first place them separately in each a different room where they cannot see each other yet but can explore the space. Is this a success? Then switch them from one room to another. This way they can sniff out each other's scent again.
Tip: do not forget to reward your animals with treats. This way they associate the new smell with something positive!
The moment has come, time for the introduction! Put your cat in a familiar basket or travel bag in a higher place. Keep your dog on a leash and put them at a distance from each other. This way they can have a good look at each other and calm down if they get a bit too enthusiastic. Is this going well? Then give them another reward!
Time for the next step. Let the leash of your dog a little looser and give your cat the opportunity to go where she wants. Make sure there is always an escape route for your cat to a higher place where it can oversee its surroundings. In any case, do not force your animals to greet each other. They set their own pace. Keep a friendly and sweet tone in your voice when you talk to them, that way it is an extra incentive to be friendly to each other.
Body language says it all
The body language of an animal speaks volumes. Does your cat lay its ears flat back and swish its tail back and forth? Then your cat is indicating that it is irritated. Does your dog keep quiet and fix his eyes on the cat? Then he is ready for the 'hunt'. Does he rather frequently lick his lips and yawn? Then he is stressed and feels uncomfortable.
Is your animal showing signs of irritation or discomfort? Have them focus on something else like a treat or take them to another room and try the introduction again at a later time.
Tip: Each time, make sure your own body language is relaxed as well. Animals immediately pick up on the slightest feeling of stress and often take over very quickly.
Patience is key
Introducing your cat and dog is not something you can do in one day. Start the introduction with a few minutes every day and do this a little longer each day. Is everything going calmly and quietly? Then it's time to release both animals and let them get acquainted on their own. There are several scenarios. Some become best friends immediately, for others it takes weeks or even months and for some the spark never comes. Give them time and only leave them together under supervision. If after a few weeks they still do not manage to get along in a calm manner, you can seek help from an animal behaviorist.
Putting it al together
- Don't put them together immediately but first let them get used to each other's scent
- Reward calm and good behavior
- Watch their and your own body language
- Prevent stress factors
- Do not force your animals to do anything