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How to Introduce a Dog and a Cat. Start Them Out Right With Unhurried Introductions


© 2005 Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine

No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder. Reprinted with permission from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Reprinted from Your Dog, April 2005

You can mitigate problems between cats and dogs with proper introductions. Most people tend to rush introductions between the two species instead of letting them become used to each other. Try the following steps to ensure a happy future together:

1. Choose a "safe room" for your cat. One with a door you can close where you can put his litterbox, food, water and scratching post so that he can become accustomed to the environment without a dog pestering him.

2. After a few days, move the cat to another room and let your dog investigate the smells in the empty room.

3. Now, it's time for introductions. Put your dog on a leash in another room, and allow the cat in to check him out at a distance.

4. If your dog becomes excited, use a piece of food to lure his attention to you with a "Watch" command or something similar.

5. Reward calm behavior; do not allow aggressive behavior. Don't allow your dog to chase the cat.

6. Keep sessions short at first and gradually lengthen them as your dog begins to show good behavior.

7. Always provide separate, safe areas for the dog and cat, so they can get away from each other. Cats need vertical surfaces to climb to safety.

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