How To Introduce Your Dog To A New Kitten
When I was in college, I decided to add my first cat to our family. I had no idea we were all in for a bloodletting! He was a beautiful 7 months old Siamese mix and at the time I showed Rottweilers. I let my dogs outside. Clasped in my arms I brought in the new arrival, and proceeded to bring in my dogs.
They had never been aggressive with animals, but in their excitement they raced toward the new furry feline. Within milliseconds, he scratched both dogs in the face and proceeded to shred my hands, arms and scalp as he climbed and leaped to the drapes. We were all bleeding and traumatized!
It is instinct for cats to fear dogs, so a rapid introduction can end in all parties being disconcerted! Cats can also remember the incident, tarnishing their ability to reside with the other animal. Cats, in general, don’t like change. It takes time for them to begin to accept a new environment and a new family.
The first step is finding the right furry feline for your family. Older kittens and young cats, due to their larger size, are sometimes easier for some dogs to accept. Often dogs, perceive very small kittens to be prey. If your dog likes to chase small animals use extreme caution, it is essential to provide safety to both your dog and the new cat during this process.
Cats often need several days to several weeks to acclimate to a “safe” environment before getting run of the house. This time provides them with a chance to get use to their cat box, and bond to new family members on their own terms. Find a room in which your new kitty can be enclosed and will feel safe.
In the beginning, the dog can sniff under the door to adjust to the new feline and your kitty will get use to the sounds and smells of your dog. Care should be taken to make sure there is no barking or scratching at the door to gain entrance.
At first, encourage your dog to sniff, then reward with praise and/or treats. Next, command “Leave It” or “Watch” and reward when successful. You want to be the most exciting part of this new encounter, and you want to be able to command your dog to leave the cat alone! Practice several times a day to prepare for the first encounter. Take time to visit your new kitty and bond.
After several days of successful practice and neither seems apprehensive or excited you may begin embarking on the introduction. Two people are best, to help with the meeting. First put your dog on a leash to give you control in case you need it. Next, fill your pockets with treats so you can teach your dog how to interact with the new feline. One person will work with the dog while the second person goes into the kitten’s safe home. The second person should sit on the ground with the door cracked slightly so that the pair can see each other. If the dog gets excited, use treats to refocus.
You may close the door a bit or totally until the dog is sitting and under control. Do not permit the dog access to the safe room. Allow the kitten to hide if it feels overwhelmed. Work at the kitten’s comfort level, keep things short and positive. Do this step numerous times daily until both parties are ignoring each other and you feel you are ready to progress.
Next, the door can be opened wider; encourage the kitten to explore additional parts of the home. Have the dog on-leash and reward appropriate behavior. Your dog should ignore the new cat and look to you for praise and rewards. Return your kitten to his safe haven after a period of exploration. Do this several times until you feel you are ready to progress.
Once your kitten is comfortable exploring, and your dog has learned to ignore the new cat and to listen to you in his presence it is time for them to co-exist. Continue to reward your dog for not chasing or tormenting the new addition. And, allow your kitten to return to his safe haven when he feels stressed. Keep that area available for several weeks so that your kitten can slowly acclimate to his environment.
This program teaches acceptance and respect which is essential to a happy home!
-This guest post was written by Minette. Look for more from this lovely lady in the near future!