There is a lot of bad advice given about introducing a cat to your family dog or vice versa. Some remember the introduction as a stressful time or say it’s impossible to have both. The key to any introduction is time and patience. Here are some procedures and facts, which will make the transition smooth and help some households, have both species.
• Start Early. If you already have a cat and plan on adding a dog to the household, pick a breeder that has socialized the puppies to cats within the first 8 weeks of life. If the breeder has not socialized the puppies within that sensitive time period, you still have time to do it yourself up until the pup is 16 weeks of age.
• Keep both species as calm as possible during each step of introduction. Don’t make the first encounter a stressful one where the cat gets loose and runs and the dog chases the cat. Don’t put them into stressful situations. The use of Young Living Essential Oil- Peace and Calming, which contains Blue Tansy, Patchouli, Tangerine, Orange and Ylang Ylang promotes relaxation and a deep sense of peace and emotional well-being, helping to dampen tensions.* The oil can be diffused in the area where the introduction will take place or simply petted onto the animals before their introduction.
• Both species have a strong sense of smell. To introduce one to the other rub a towel on each and place in the opposite’s area of play or interaction. It’s important the areas you place the towels in are areas with a positive connotation for both. For dogs, place the towel in their bed or dog run, and for cats place near their play area or in a certain spot where they lay. Keep in mind its normal for a cat to avoid the dog’s scent as they would avoid the dog upon real encounter.
• During the towel and scent exchange, keep both separate, but switch where you are keeping them, so they are also naturally exposed to each other’s scent. Avoid keeping one confined in a certain cage or area while the other enjoys freedom/playtime.
• Introduce them once the cat is acknowledging your dog’s scent and your dog’s obsession with the cat’s scent lessens. The first introduction should be to keep both on each side of a closed door. Make sure you make this a good experience for both. Use treats, toys and lots of praise and petting to make them comfortable. If either species is reluctant to approach the door, don’t force them; allow them to do it on their own.
• After the closed door introduction is a success, try placing your cat in a crate (the crate should already be a comfortable environment for them) and covering it with a towel. Allow your dog to approach and sniff around the crate. Have the dog do sits and downs and reward for calm behavior around the cat. After a few different sessions, pull the towel up so each can see each other and repeat training exercises. Gradually use less of the towel until the towel is off the crate, and your dog is approaching the crate and doing an automatic sit.
• The next experiment involves a baby gate. Use one to separate your dog and cat into different areas/rooms. Allow each to approach and sniff at their side of the gate. Continue this in short increments until both are comfortable. Do not leave them unsupervised while approaching the gate. Watch to see if your dog becomes too aggressive or tries to jump up or over the gate. This last step should be one where both approach each other, but your cat doesn’t dart away and your dog doesn’t want to dart after the cat. You have successfully socialized them when this last step is a calm environment for both.
At this point, you are ready to have unprotected contact with each other. Have the dog on a leash and practice commands like sit, down stay and go to bed (place) with your dog while the cat walks around the house or room. Reward the dog for calm behavior. An additional great behavior to have strongly trained into your dog is recall or the come command. Have your dog doing great recalls from hard distractions will help if something was to go awry doing the training process.
Lastly, if your dog is calm with the cat with the last step you may start allowing the dog to freely walk around the house with the leash on but dragging. Intermittently, reward your dog for showing calm interest in the cat, or any calm behaviors such as lying down to take a nap or calmly watching the cat walk by. Finally, you may remove the leash.
• All of the steps can take from two weeks to two months depending on the socialization each received to the other species and how well trained your dog is. If you have socialized your dog well and taught it to listen to commands such as sit, down, stay and come it will only help the experience become smoother.
It’s a Dog’s World K-9 Academy, Inc. can offer in-home assistance with socializing your dog and cat. It’s a Dog’s World’s professional, certified trainers can help the socialization experiments be a success and can assist further if your dog is a breed with a high prey drive that likes to chase cats or if you just adopted a dog and the cat bonding history is unknown. Socializing the two calls for some extra dog training, this will help your dog calm down and listen during the introduction process. Visit us on-line to schedule a free consultation or to find out more info about It’s a Dog’s World, http://www.itsadogsworld.biz/.
*Contact Liz Reyes @ [email protected] for information on using Essential Oils or how to order.