What is the proper way to introduce a dog into a cat household?

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Introducing a new dog into a home where a cat currently lives can be stressful and challenging. You are more likely to achieve harmony if you take the proper steps to make the transition less stressful for all involved.

Prior to bringing the new dog home, make adjustments to the environment to better accommodate your cat’s need to feel safe. When a cat feels stressed, he looks for places to hide. Cats feel particularly safe when they can find a place to hide or perch that is up high. Create some extra hiding and perching spots for your feline in advance. You will want to ensure that these places are out of the reach of the new dog. Do this several days before the dog comes home, so your cat has time to explore and become familiar with these changes and locations.

When your new dog arrives home, keep the two pets separated except for when they are directly supervised by an adult. This adult must be able to intervene if there are any problems. Attaching a leash to the dog’s collar may also be helpful. When a dog is being too attentive to a cat, grabbing the dog’s collar can be difficult. Having the leash dragging on the floor allows you to reach the dog more easily and quickly. It can also be stepped on if the dog is chasing the cat to avoid further tension or complications in your home.

For at least a portion of each day, keep the two animals on opposite sides of a door. You can close the dog in a crate or close the cat in a separate room when unsupervised. During this time, the two pets will be able to safely approach each other, sniff each other, and become more accustomed to having the other nearby.

Use two towels or blankets to bring the scent of one pet to the other. One night, allow the dog to sleep on one towel and the cat on the other. The following night, swap the towels so that the dog is now sleeping on the cat’s towel and the cat is sleeping on the dog’s. The two of them will become more comfortable with the scent of the other after just a few swaps.

Once the two pets appear to be comfortable around each other, start to allow them more time together, eventually including unsupervised time. On average, it takes a few weeks to a few months for a cat to adjust to a new canine friend in the home.

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