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How to introduce dogs to cats

 by lucy on 25 May 2017 |
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Introducing a new pet to your household can be exciting, but for resident animals, adding a new face to the mix can increase stress and anxiety. This is especially true when introducing a dog and cat for the first time. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize stress whether your new addition will be a canine or feline companion.

Before ever bringing your new pet home, there are several things to consider. The first is what type of pet you’ll choose. Puppies pose less of a threat to adult cats and kittens are less likely to shy away from large dogs, meaning a younger pet may be your best option. If you do decide to bring home an adult dog, ask about his past to ensure he doesn’t have a history of aggression toward other animals. Likewise, before bringing home an adult cat, ask if he has been socialized around dogs or has had any traumatic experiences with canines in the past. You should consider making changes to your home in anticipation of your new pet’s arrival, too. Move your cat’s litter box to a dog-free zone to ease introductions or try limiting Fido’s mobility with baby gates. Making these changes before bringing your new dog or cat home can help ease your current companion’s adjustment to the changes.

Once your new animal arrives, keep an eye on interactions between him and your existing pet. In dog-cat introductions, dogs are more likely to be the aggressors, so watch your canine especially closely. If your cat gets frightened and runs, Fido’s predator instincts may kick in, causing him to chase the moving target. Exercise your dog before introducing him to a new cat and keep him on a leash during the initial introduction. You can also create a safe space for Kitty by installing baby gates to block off dog-free sections of the house. Place your cat’s litter box and food bowl in these “safe zones” to help him feel more secure in the new situation. Your cat will also feel safer with plenty of perches where he can watch the dog from above, so provide plenty of climbing space inaccessible to his canine peer.

Introducing a dog and cat for the first time can be stressful for both you and your pets, but the meeting doesn’t have to be a disaster. The most important thing to remember is to let your pets meet at their own pace and never force an interaction, which can encourage your cat to scratch Fido in the face and causes your dog to fear his feline friend. By providing cats with safe spaces, your dog and cat can learn to coexist peacefully in their shared home.

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