INTRODUCING YOUR CAT AND DOG
All too often people go to the pound to pick out their pup without thinking about their other furry kitty friend. They arrive home with their new bundle of love and set him free to explore his new home until they are all startled by the hissing and growling of their kitty. Most shelters do test dogs to see how each dog react to cats, but even if the dog is cat friendly it doesn’t mean the cat is not going to be caught by surprised by him. And if the kitty runs, forget it, more than likely you are in for a long chase. Even a cat friendly dog can’t help but chase a moving prey such as a cat so if you’re looking for them to develop a life long friendship you need to be sure that it starts off on the right paw. Just letting them work it out doesn’t always work.
If neither the cat nor the dog has had a bad experience in the past then a few simple steps can be taken to teach them to get along. If they have already had multiple incidences then a trainer should be contacted to help recondition the animals’ behavior.
Now lets get started. The dog and cat should not be in contact with each other until the three stages are complete. Do not rush things. It may take a few days or a week but it will be worth it in the long run. Every interaction should be as stress free as possible and always end on a good note. Training sessions should not be longer than 5-10 minutes and should occur 1-3 times daily.
Stage one is the stationary stage. You need to get the cat to remain as still as possible. This can be done by feeding the cat, putting a harness on the cat and holding it on a leash, or placing it in a wire cage. Once the cat is stationary walk the dog into the room on a leash. It is extremely important that you do not allow tension to develop in the leash since it will be relayed to the dog as stress and might result in the dog reacting to the cat. Take one step towards the cat and then stop. If your dog knows how to sit ask him to sit. If the dog does not react to the cat lure his head in the opposite direction of the cat with a piece of food and reward him with it for not reacting. Repeat this one step at a time and reward the dog for every time he does not react. If the dog does react take several steps back until he becomes calm again. Then lure his head away and reward him. Take one step forward and reward him for not reacting and then end the session. Over several training sessions work on getting the dog a few feet from the cat without reacting. Then move onto stage two.
Stage two is the movement stage but the cat should still remain stationary during this stage. During this stage you’re going to walk the dog past the cat. Start far enough away so that your dog does not react to the cat. Place a piece of food in front of the dog’s nose and walk him past the cat at a safe distance. If the dog does not react give him the treat after he passes the cat. Repeat this several times then move slightly closer and repeat this exercise. Repeat this stage until you can walk right by the cat without the dog reacting.
During stage three the dog is going to remain stationary. Slowly walk the cat past the dog. If the dog does not react then give him a treat. If he does react place them further apart and repeat the exercise. Repeat this exercise until the cat can move past the dog, at a close distance, without the dog reacting. Once this can occur the dog and cat should be able to live peacefully together.