How to introduce a new dog into the home when you have a cat

We’ve all heard the saying ‘fighting like a cat and dog’, but this does not have to be the case.

Tue 02 May 2017

By Judy

How to introduce a new dog into the home when you have a cat

We’ve all heard the saying ‘fighting like a cat and dog’, but this does not have to be the case. Dogs and cats can indeed form a very close bond and be friends for life. If you already own a cat, and are thinking of getting a new dog, it’s wise to plan ahead to avoid any potential problems.

Kitten and puppies are much more likely to be tolerant of each other especially if they have been socialised from an early age. However, this may not be possible if you are taking on a rescue dog and do not know its background.

The main thing to remember is that your home is also your cat’s home and serious thought should be given to getting a dog if your cat has shown a strong dislike to dogs in the past or is very old, ill or timid. With this in mind, you can make preparations for the arrival of your new dog by making things a little easier for your cat before your new canine arrival.

Getting your home ready for the arrival of your new dog

  • Make sure there are areas in the home where your cat can go and your new dog cannot reach. If you plan to move furniture around, do this 2 weeks before your new dog arrives so your cat has time to adjust to the new set-up. As we know cats really don’t like change!
  • You may want to create a dog-free room by placing a cat flap in an internal door where you can keep litter trays, bedding and food in a safe and calm environment.
  • Consider putting up shelves fairly high, so your cat can move freely around the room, yet out of reach from your dog.
  • You may want to consider placing a baby gate on the staircase to allow your cat to move around upstairs away from your new dog.
  • If possible, place an item of bedding or clothing that has the scent of the new dog somewhere in the home to allow your cat to get used to the scent.
  • Always make sure your cat has an escape route from your new dog.

Introducing your new dog to your cat

  • Prepare for the meeting by placing your dog on a long lead and have treats or cheese to hand. It’s best to do this after you have exercised your dog so that he is nicely tired. Do not play throwing/retrieving games before the initial meeting to avoid your dog’s instinct to chase.
  • Allow your cat to enter the room or carry your cat into the room. If your cat trys to run away then let it.
  • Don’t encourage your dog to look at your cat. Call your dog’s name and if it responds reward with a treat.
  • If both pets look calm then allow your dog, while still on the lead to sniff each other. Reward calm behaviour with praise and treats.
  • Repeat this process over the next few days until both pets look comfortable around each other. Always supervise meetings and reward good behaviour.
  • Please be aware that some dogs will not tolerate cats and vice versa, but chances of them bonding are higher if both pets are socialised from an early age.