Introducing a dog into a cat household

PUPPIES and kittens that are raised together often will grow up as friends, not knowing that they’re not supposed to get along. Many times, however, you may want or need to add a dog to a household with cats, or vice-versa.

A general rule for the easiest integration is that the new animal should be younger and of the opposite sex, even between dogs and cats. It may be easier to bring in a puppy to a cat household, as the puppy won’t be as big or as threatening as a dog, and may not think of a cat as something to chase. On the other hand, an active, playful puppy may be more annoying or frightening to an adult cat than would be an adult dog that behaved calmly around cats.

Also know that certain breeds of dogs are less likely to be safe around cats. This includes terriers and sight hounds (due to a stronger prey drive), and herding breeds (who may nip at the cats’ heels, trying to herd them).

Supervise all inter-actions, keeping the dog on a leash, until you are certain that he is cat-safe. If the dog starts to chase the cat or is at all aggressive, give a quick jerk on the leash, and use the ‘sit’ or ‘leave it’ commands.

Praise the dog (or give a treat) the instant he complies and stops trying to get to the cat.

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