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How to Properly Introduce a Dog and a Cat

Contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs do get along rather well. There are exceptions, but for the most part the two different species find ready companionship, learn to adapt and even play together. There may even come a time when the cat begins grooming the dog. It’s even funnier and more touching when the dog reciprocates. So what is the best way to introduce the two animals?


Although every dog is an individual, with their own traits and tendencies, certain breeds do have a higher prey drive than others. The Rhodesian Ridgeback, for example, was specifically bred to hunt lions. An Irish Wolfhound is another breed that was designed for large game hunting. There may be no malicious intent to a dog tracking a cat, but if the dog has appears to have an obsession about being on the hunt for the cat, it might be wise to not introduce the two.

shutterstock_212460076Beginning stages

No matter which was in the home first, a cat is usually easier to sequester than a dog. Lock the cat in a room with food, water and a litter box. Encourage the dog to sniff the door, treating and offering praise. Let the dog know this new smell is a good thing. On the other side of the door, stroke the cat, give it positive praise when a strange nose appears under the door. Give both animals plenty of positive feedback. Keep them separated for a couple of days, allow them get used to each other’s smell.

Next Step

After the separation period, leash up the dog and bring out the cat. This should be done in a neutral room, not where the cat has been residing. Allow them to sniff and interact. Keep an eye out for any anxiety. Cats sometimes strike first, ask questions later. This may be beneficial if the dog gets too rambunctious, the cat will put him in his place. If the dog is a mild mannered sort, and the cat is having issues then a professional trainer should be consulted on the best course of action. Also a trainer should be consulted if the dog is too wild. High prey drive indicators would be constant chasing, jumping, snarling, or hunting of the cat.

Final Test

If all has gone well between the dog and the cat, it’s time to let the dog off his leash and let them interact more freely. By this time, they should both be comfortable in each other’s presence and interacting in a calm, respectful manner.

Dogs and cats make amiable companions. Set them up for success from the very beginning and watch the relationship blossom.


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Written by Renee Moen
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