Get Your Dog and Cat Used to Each Other

Despite the prejudices and clichés, dogs and cats can become good friends and live together peacefully under one roof. But for this to happen, you have to bring the two together and introduce them to each other. You can find out how this works best here.

General Information on the Merger

If there have been no unpleasant experiences with the other race on either side, this is the best prerequisite for merging. It is important that you, as the owner, define a precise plan beforehand. Make it clear to yourself how you want to move in and carry out the first encounters. First of all, the different body language can be problematic. But with slow getting used to it, you can overcome this obstacle. Incidentally, the easiest way to do this is when both of them come together as young animals. It is important that the dog sees the cat as a pack member and not as potential prey. Incidentally, it is easier to integrate a cat into a dog household than the other way around. Dogs are pack animals and therefore usually take better care of cats.

The Preparations

It is important that the new addition – regardless of whether it is a dog or a cat – matches the character of the animal that is already there. A kitten or young cat should be “paired up” with a puppy or young dog so that neither side is suppressed. However, if the dog is already grown, the cat should be at least 4 months old. If the dog is particularly lively, the cat should also have a good portion of self-confidence and not be too shy or even fearful. Older animals go best with calm or equally old newcomers.

Before the newcomer moves in, the smell of the animal should be made accessible to the “old-established animal” on a blanket. This allows the animal to get used to the smell. If you bring a dog into a cat household, it is also important that the cat can get used to the barking noise. To do this, first play recordings of a dog barking softly, later you can slowly increase the volume.

You also have to adapt the apartment. The feeding places should be separated so that there is no feed envy. It is best to move the cat’s feeding point to a raised area. If this is a change for the cat, it should be done slowly so that it does not count as an additional stress factor. Just like the feeding station, the litter box must be taboo for the dog. Dogs have a tendency to eat cat feces and cats can react to such disturbance of their privacy with uncleanliness.

During the first few days, there must also be a spatial separation, so you should prepare a room for the newcomer. He can spend the first few days here and get used to the new surroundings. At the same time, both can get used to the other’s smell without meeting each other directly.

The First Encounter

Now the time has come, the first meeting is on. In principle, the procedure is the same. Regardless of whether a dog comes to the cat or a cat to the dog. To make the formulation easier, we want to describe the new arrival of a cat in a dog household.

So while the cat has been living in the isolated room for a few days, one should definitely not neglect the dog. Otherwise, jealousy can arise, which only complicates the reunification. In addition, when the dog is away, the cat should already have forayed into the apartment and be a little familiar with it.

The merger should definitely be carried out with two people. That simplifies the whole thing enormously. There should be a stress-free atmosphere that is not disturbed by annoying noises. In addition, both animals should have eaten beforehand, then they are in principle “full and happier”. You yourself act as a moderator during the encounter, very relaxed and calm. Your emotions are transferred to the animals, so don’t be nervous or fearful!

It is important that you are patient and show empathy. You have to be aware that getting used to it can be exhausting and time-consuming. Setbacks are normal and the animals always determine the time of the acclimatization phase. Therefore, do not dramatize sham attacks, but clearly communicate that such behavior is not desired. Additional treats loosen up the situation and make the whole thing a positive experience.

When you have chosen the room for the meeting, you should leash or hold the dog. Under no circumstances should there be a hunt, as this makes the work much more difficult. It helps if the dog has been properly used beforehand.

Now you let the cat into the room. You determine the distance to the dog itself! To see him and smell him “from a distance” is enough for the first encounter. You shouldn’t put her in a transport box because there is no way she can escape there. If the dog responds by barking or tugging, one should try to distract him. If he calms down, give plenty of praise. Doesn’t it get better to break off the encounter first? This should also happen if one of the animals is too afraid.

Incidentally, an elevated vantage point is beneficial, as the cat is safe here and can quietly observe. While the four-legged friends make friends, one person should turn to an animal, stroke it, talk to it in a calming manner and encourage positive behavior with treats. If all goes well, you should end the encounter after a few minutes. Afterward, praise both animals again and play with them or go out.

Important: The cat should always be able to leave the room.

Keep Practicing

Practice this type of contact until no strong emotions or defensive reactions are evident. Be careful not to overwhelm the animals. As the owner, it is best for you to notice when you can leave the dog off the leash and when it is the turn of the “free” encounter. You should be attentive to these encounters but carry on normal everyday activities. The animals notice that the contact is something normal. At the same time, you should always stick to the normal daily routine, this gives additional security.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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