Category: “Dog Tips & Tricks”

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

You added a new kitty to your family! Congratulations! Now comes the challenge of introducing your new cat to your dog. There are many factors to consider before making the new cat to current dog introduction: Is you resident dog a young pup? Is your resident dog already cat friendly? Does your resident dog have a high prey drive? Is your new kitty “dog friendly”? Is your new kitty a small kitten? Is your new kitty nervous, high-strung or generally afraid? Keep these questions in mind as you continue to read.

Remember: Relationships take time to develop. Never force introductions! Your resident Fido might LOVE new kitty but new kitty could HATE Fido. And vice versa. Your job is to be their mentor, to supervise their interactions, to help them forge a positive relationship. This means all their encounters must be associated with POSITIVE experiences. Positive experiences include: 

  • Food/treats
  • Play
  • Attention/Praise

 Be patient and calm: Throughout this phase speak calmly, be generous with praise. Reinforce positive behavior with treats. Provide resident Fido special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of new kitty. New kitty can receive special cuddles in private. Avoid scolding, speaking in a nervous voice — even if the first meeting did not go well. 

Texas Animal Guardians New Cat/Dog introductions

Baby kitten needs to be kept safe at all times!

CAUTION:

1. Never introduce a tiny kitten to a full grown dog or even a puppy without holding the kitten: Little kitten bones can be easily broken and internal injuries can result from a quick swat of a dog paw or worse death can result if dog grabs kitten by neck and shakes it.

2. Never leave the new kitty and dog unsupervised: A dog can kill a cat very quickly. Even if you think your dog LOVES cats, be very cautious about leaving them alone together. ALWAYS give your new Kitty an escape route, something high to jump up on or a small cat door that he/she can run into (and dog can’t) to hide in safe area.

A Primer on New Cat and Dog Introductions

First!: Give new kitty a “safe” space of her own. A small room is preferable, perhaps a half bath or even a seldom-used closet. Place kitty’s box, food, a scratching post, a comfy bed and blanket in her room. Give new kitty a chance to “decompress” in this setting for a few days before making introductions.

Second!: Give new kitty a chance to explore the home (with Fido out of the way). Start with one room first and gradually expand this to other areas of the home. Give her a scratching post in one of the primary rooms of your home (living room, family room, etc.). The scratching post will help trim her claws while releasing pheromones from her paw pads. These pheromone scents will provide her tranquility.

Third!: Give Fido a blanket to sleep on and in a few days swap out the blankets between the two. That is, give Fido new kitty’s blanket and give new kitty Fido’s blanket. The idea behind this is to co-mingle their scents. Scents that are familiar are far less threatening. Continue swapping the unwashed blankets back and forth over this crucial introductory phase. 

Fourth!: Purchase these items to help the meeting go smoother between the two: calming collars or sprays. A specifically designed gate with an opening for cat to go through (to prevent Fido from following new kitty into her “safe” area).

Fifth!: Set up a supervised meeting between Fido and new kitty.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-love-dog-cat-image1570326

Let Kitty approach Fido on her own.

1. Select an area of the home where both new kitty and Fido are familiar.

2. Place a leash on Fido.

3. Do not use a leash or harness on the kitty — or anything else (such as a crate or carrier) that will cause the new kitty to feel trapped.

4. Have another member of the family or a friend hold Fido’s leash.

5. Bring Fido in first, then new kitty. (Place them far enough apart so they will feel comfortable.)

6. Allow them to set the pace about approaching each other. (Give Fido plenty of treats and praise for good behavior. If Fido knows basic obedience place him in a sit or down position.)

7. Let new kitty approach Fido if she wants to but don’t force her.

8. Keep this meeting short! After a few minutes put Fido away.

9. Let new kitty continue sniffing the area where Fido has been. Put new kitty away.

10. Bring Fido back into the room and allow him to sniff the area where new kitty has been.

11. Repeat this several times a day for a week (perhaps longer) or until the new kitty approaches Fido on her own.

12. Once they have touched noses, sniffed each other without incidence you can begin increasing their time together. Repeat these short visits until both Fido and new Kitty are comfortable with each other. Continue to keep a leash on Fido while they are in the same room together until you are certain they are comfortable with each others company. Always keep them separated when no one is home to supervise their interactions. 

cat_napping

A few suggestions: Separate an area for new kitty for her litter box and food. Fido will often indulge in eating kitty’s food and the litter box is a huge temptation for Fido. Place kitty’s food up on a high counter. Place litter box in a room with a propped open door (or better yet purchase a specifically designed gate that gives her access but keeps Fido out).

carlson-extra-wide-walk-thru-gate-with-pet-door

Gate with separate “cat” door keeps Fido out of kitty’s safe room.

Calming Collars Dogs

Calming collars can help introductions.

Calmming Collars Cats

Crate Training your Dog

Crate Training your Dog

Crate train at an early age

Crate Training Your Dog

With proper introductions and training your dog can learn to accept the crate as a safe place

Why Should You Crate Train?

Crate training is necessary for many reasons. It limits the dog’s access to areas of the home until she learns the rules. It prevents her from chewing up your furniture or eliminating inside the home. It keeps her safe while you are absent. With the proper introduction and training your dog will accept the crate as a safe place. Please keep in mind that the crate is not a place of punishment or extended confinement. Crate training is an intermediate phase for a dog. In other words, once the dog has reached maturity and is completely house trained, past the puppy chewing phase and fully trust worthy in the home the crate will be phased out completely.

What Type of Crate Should You Use?

By far the best type of crate is the wire type. Plastic and fabric crates can be chewed through. Choose a crate large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in. In addition to the crate, purchase spill proof bowls that can attach to the crate (for later). Once your dog is acclimated to the crate these bowls will provide fresh water or food during your absence.

WireCrate

The Crate Training Process

The length of time to acclimate your dog to the crate can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months. A lot depends on your dog’s previous experiences with being confined in a small space. Puppies are generally easy to crate train, mainly because they haven’t developed issues with small spaces. This is why it’s advisable to crate a puppy from an early age to acclimate them to the crate. Adult dogs can be more of a challenge. For this reason, the training process listed in this article will be focused on adult dogs or puppies over the age of 5 months, not young puppies.

Texas Animal Guardians receives a number of adult dogs and puppies from a variety of backgrounds into its adoption program. The first step towards helping them transition from the shelter to a home is crate training. Many dogs develop phobias surrounding confinement and being shut up inside a shelter doesn’t help. Humans react the same way to being locked up. It really isn’t pleasant to be confined in a small space with no escape route. Not to mention there is no outside stimulation or companionship. This is why the crate must only be used as a temporary tool during a dog’s adjustment phase when entering a new home.

First, set the crate up and place it in an area of the home where the dog can see you and/or other family members. The last thing you want to do is make him feel isolated. Next, secure the crate door into an open position with a bungee cord or some other fastener to prevent it from accidentally closing. You don’t want him to get freaked out by a crate door closing on him. Then put some favorite toys and a chew bone inside the crate.

Introducing your dog to the crate

Hopefully you have already the article Helping your Rescue Dog Bond and Adjust – if not please do. This process is a reward-based one. It involves lots of praise and treats. The same applies to crate training. In the case of an extremely fearful dog, just take your time. Place all feeding bowls by the crate, not inside. Initially, every feeding will occur outside the crate, but next to the crate’s door. You will place yummy treats inside the crate. When he enters the crate to grab a treat, praise him. Always sit nearby while your dog is becoming acquainted with the crate.

Feeding your dog meals in the crate

As your dog’s comfort level increases, slowly begin trying to feed him inside the crate. Place the food bowl and his water bowl at the front of the crate first. Gradually begin to place the bowls further and further towards the back of the crate.

Once your dog has adjusted to receiving feedings and treats inside the crate, begin closing the crate door while he eats. Do NOT leave him. Stay with him and immediately open the door again, give him a treat inside the crate and using your “happy” voice praise him. Continue doing this over and over again (as many times as possible each day) for the next few days until he becomes comfortable being in the crate with door closed.

Confining your dog inside the crate 

At this point the next phase will begin. This phase involves leaving him for short periods of time. Feed him inside the crate, put a nice chewy toy in it. When you place the treat or food inside the crate use a voice command such as “kennel up” for him to associate with the action. Close the door and leave the area for a few minutes and return. Open the door and praise him in your happy voice and let him back out. Continue this exercise several times a day, over the next few days. You can repeat this exercise by using treats, a filled chewy toy or a new toy — anything to distract him (see note below). Always use the same voice command each time. Gradually increase the length of time you leave him. Always return with treats and praise.

IF he starts to cry or howl DO NOT enter the room. Instead wait until he subsides (even if it’s just a momentary stop) and then enter the crate area. Regardless of his behavior always praise and treat. (Note: If he does whining to be let out you might have increased the length of time inside the crate too quickly.)

Confining for longer periods of time

After your dog is comfortable being left in the crate for about 30 minutes without developing anxiety, you can being to crate him for short periods while you leave the house. Put him in the crate using the voice command, such as “kennel up”. Place treats and toys in the crate for him. Keep departures and arrivals low key. Be matter of fact about it. Continue to crate him for short periods of time while you are home. Vary your patterns for getting ready to leave by placing him in the crate 5 to 10 minutes prior to leaving. This period of conditioning can take a few days or a few weeks.

A word about chew toys

It’s always a good idea to give your dog some type of safe chewy toy to keep him occupied inside the crate during this time. Kong makes a good one that you can fill with all kinds of yummy stuff such as peanut butter, cream cheese or even ground style dog food. You can place the stuffed Kong in the freezer and it’ll give him something to occupy his mind with when you leave the room.

 Potential problems

Please keep in mind that the kennel is not a place of punishment or extended confinement. A dog or puppy should not be crated for long periods of time. A long period of time would be considered anything over 6 hours. If you work and you MUST crate your puppy or young dog for extended periods then please arrange for a neighbor, a friend or a relative to let the puppy out of the crate to exercise and go to the bathroom. A young puppy does not have the ability to hold its bladder or bowel movement. It adds extra stress to the puppy when it messes in its sleeping and eating area. (Please see our potty training section for more information on this subject.)

The crate IS NOT a cure for separation anxiety! Any dog that exhibits this type of behavior will need further counter-conditioning. An anxious dog can and will injure itself by trying to claw its way out of the crate, chew through the metal (and break a tooth) or panic to the point of salivating.

DO NOT confine your dog or puppy for over 6 hours in a 24-hour period of time. Confinement in a small space for extended periods of time is not natural, normal or desirable for a dog or, for that matter, a human. Consider what the consequences are: neurotic behavior, anxiety, space sharing issues and aggression. If you are tempted to crate a dog for extended periods of time you could actually create aggressive behavior in your dog. The dog will view the crate as its domain and react aggressively towards anyone approaching it. A crate confined dog will develop resource guarding behavior and it will not be well socialized.