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Dogs are typically thought of as natural predators of cats. And, unless they have had prior pleasant experiences with dogs, even the most laid back cats tend to feel threatened during the introduction of a new dog. The way in which these two animals are introduced will have a significant impact on their future interactions. That’s why it is important for owners to make the very first introduction one that is calm, safe, and rewarding for both the new dog and the cat.
Dogs that have previously lived with cats tend to relate well with other cats. However, a dog without any prior cat experience may behave unpredictably. There is a risk that your pooch will attack your pet cat. With puppies not more than 3 months old, the danger is relatively low. Nevertheless, with larger dogs, it’s crucial that you ensure your cat’s safety.
Bringing your New Pooch Home
1. Keep the two pets separate until they get used to each other. Make use of a baby gate or another kind of see-through barrier to confine your pooch to one area of the house. This way, you will enable your cat to initiate in approaching the new dog. This is important as the cat is the one that tends to feel threatened. Cats can be quite territorial, so bringing a loud, jumping dog into his home can be scary for him.
2. The moment the cat is able to approach the other calmly, the barrier can be removed. After the barrier is removed, try monitoring their behavior together during the first few meetings. Never let the new dog to bark, lunge, or chase the cat since this can make a negative association that can eliminate the chance of future friendship. If your dog tends to be exuberant, you may want to use a short leash. Closely watch the situation. Attacks can take place very swiftly, and because the cat is much smaller, she can be hurt seriously even in a brief scuffle.
3. Most cats only aggressively attack when being cornered by a dog. Prevent your new dog from trapping the cat so that the possibility of scratches can be minimized. In worst cases, cats may graze the dog’s eyes with razor-sharp claws.
4. When you stop your new dog from barking or chasing your cat, use commands or gently restrain him. Do not be too aggressive as it can develop a negative association with the resident cat. In the same manner, the cat shall never be punished for hissing, growling, or swiping at the newcomer. Remember to reward both animals with praises and treats for interacting positively, or even for simply being in the same place without behaving toward each other negatively.
5. Finally, do not try to force any interaction. Allow your cat to set the pace and never leave your new dog and the cat alone together until you can be sure that they are both safe. Make sure your cat has an area that she can escape to if need be, like a tall cat tree, or a room that the dog is blocked from entering that she can easily access for some alone time.
So long as the introduction and interactions are carefully handled, dogs and cats can become the best of friends. You might even catch them snuggling up together for a nap someday!