Six steps to introducing cats and dogs within your home:
1. Keep the resident pet separated in the next room allowing the new pet time to explore, feel safe and relax. Don’t let either pet even see the other for the moment although it is good that they will probably smell and hear each other in the next room.
2. Whilst they are both still apart, take an old towel and rub it all over the new cat or dog then take this into the other room where the resident pet is. Let him sniff the towel and get used to the new pet’s scent for an hour or so.
3. After a while, switch the pets around. Place each animal in the room where the other pet was making sure that both are calm and relaxed in that environment. This gives them a chance to smell the other pet again and gain more confidence.
4. Next, place some treats for both of them on either side of the dividing door giving them both the chance to enjoy their food whilst the other pet is around. This provides a positive experience for both pets without feeling any threat at all.
5. Once the animals are less curious about sniffing each other underneath the door, allow the animals to see each other but preferably through a gate or screen door. This will make them both feel secure, especially if there is still some tension between them. Use treats and patting to calm and reward both the animals. This step might take quite a while, even days so be patient.
6. Once both are calm and relaxed, slowly allow more interaction but always with the dog on a short lead and using treats to reward calm behavior. Again, this may take several days and may be best whilst the family is relaxing in front of the television or in the back yard but eventually the cat will begin to trust that the dog won’t harass it and will choose to spend time with everyone. The dog will just get used to having the cat wander around and won’t feel the urge to chase it like he would a new ball.
Photo of Maya and Cleo by Marina Veronica, SweetWalksVIP.com