• Linda Healy

Introducing dogs to a cat

The idea that dogs are hardwired to hate cats is not true. However, many dogs are programmed to chase small prey, which cats, unfortunately, resemble. Before introducing your canine with a feline, be sure you understand the extent of your dog's "prey drive". For instance, a Shihtzu will exhibit little or none, while hunters such as greyhounds (bred for the chase) and terriers (bred to fight and kill small game) may display quite a bit. To gauge the dogs's prey drive, simply toss a favorite toy across the room. The dog may ignore it (low), pick it up and return it to you (medium), or aggressively chase it down, then shake and chew it (high). This does not necessarily mean the dog will try to kill your cat but it may very much want to harass it.

1) When the new dog is first introduced to the home, confine your cat to another section of the house. Allow the dog to orient itself and become less agitated.

2) Once the dog has become acclimated, direct its attention to the (closed) door, behind which the cats resides. Allow the animals to sniff and perhaps touch each other under the door.

3) Introduce the two under close supervision. The dog should be leashed. Alternatively, you could crate the dog and release the cat

4) During these early encounters, offer the dog special treats or extra attention whenever the cat appears. This programs the dog to associate the cat with positive things.

5) Give the cat a high shelf or gated room where it can retreat from the dog if it wishes

6) Stroke and hold the cat in the dog's presence. The dog will sense that you value the other animal

7) Place the cat's litter box someplace inaccessible to the dog. Dog's like to eat cat feces.

8) Provide two sets of food and water bowls and beds in separate locations. The cat and the dog should each have their own sanctuary for eating and retiring.

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