Introducing New Pets into the Home.
Today we will be explaining a principle on introducing a new kitten into a home with an already established dog. This principle can be applied to introducing most animals together, however keep in mind that there are exceptions to this principle.
Exceptions can include; Known to be reactive towards other animals or pets with an unknown history.
Points to keep in mind before you proceed.
BABY STEPS – We often mention this in our articles and cannot emphasis it enough.
- Short and positive sessions
- Have controls in place
- Use of leads, gates and creates
- Start in a neutral environment or location in your home.
- Until you are confident that they have established a good relationship, all interactions are to be supervised.
- Reward behaviours that will help build their relationship and teach boundaries.
- Be calm, gentle and respectful
- Do not reinforce their behaviours if they are scared by patting, picking up or cuddling them. This will only reinforce the behaviour, teaching them this is how you react around your dog and build a distrustful relationship.
- Do not use treats if your dog is food reactive
- A safe and secure area for your kitten to retreat into
- Do not force/push them, allow them time to build their relationship and become comfortable with each other
- Generally the younger they are, the easier it is and more readily accepting they are of a new friend. However this does not mean you cannot still introduce a new friend at an older age, just keep in mind that you will need to be more patient and take slower steps.
- Do not allow your dog to chase your new kitten, this will only engage your dog’s prey drive and the want to chase. Cats are more likely to run, which is why you often see dog’s wanting to chase them, this creates a continuous circle of events and poor relationships; you will need to teach your dog to not chase and your kitten will eventually stop running and become more confident and comfortable around your dog.
The guide below is based on an older dog that sleeps inside at night, stays outside during the day, being introduced to a new kitten that will be an indoors cat.
This guide can be adjusted to suit different situations, just keep in mind the above points. Any concerns or if you feel assistance is required I would highly recommend contacting our Animal Behaviourist and/or Dog Trainers.
Before bringing your new kitten home
- Try to understand how your dog will behave with cats; If possible introduce your dog to a friend/family member’s confident cat who is comfortable with dogs. (With permission of course!!)
- For information or points follow Akura’s story.
- Set up a temporary location for your new kitten to sleep in and stay while unsupervised.
- This can be the bathroom, laundry or a bedroom.
- Organise dates and times with friends and family to assist you with the introduction and interactions.
The first couple of days.
- For the first couple of days just take things slow, do not feel the need to jump into interactions straight away, allow your new kitten time to become used to their new home and you.
- Base the type of interactions on your pets. If either of them are unsure or scared take lots of baby steps, the more confident they are the quicker they may progress.
- Allow them to sniff/see each other through doors/windows.
- Do not allow your dog to bash at the door/window or bark, remove them from the situation
- Reward calm, gentle behaviour
- Reward your kitten for being confident – sniffing back/venturing closer to the door/window.
- Start introducing them in a common, spacious area (e.g. lounge room) with assistance if you feel it is required.
- Ensure your dog is controlled and on a lead, have treats ready. ]
- Reward calm behaviour
- Have him try and stay in a sit or drop
- Bring your kitten into the area at the other side of the room.
- Allow the kitten to approach him if you have a confident dog.
- If your dog is unsure, you will need to allow them both time and space to approach each other at comfortable and gradual pace. Rewarding confident behaviours and with lots of short positive sessions.
- Do not stress if your kitten runs and hide, allow them time to gradually build up their confidence in coming out and approaching your dog.
What may help here
- Interacting with your dog, playing a game to engage your kitten curiosity. This will not help if your kitten is very skittish.
- Using kitten toys to encourage the kitten to come out and play. This will help emphasis a positive situation for them.
- Use food treats as this will also emphasis a positive situation for them.
After the first couple of interactions you will begin to have a feel of how their relationship is progressing. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend interacting and remove the controls. The more confident and comfortable they become together the less you will need to use the controls in place and the longer they will be able to spend interacting with each other.
Remember to still keep all interactions supervised until you are confident that they know each other’s boundaries.
From here, as they become more confident and comfortable around each other, remember to still keep an eye on them, just in case they over step each other’s boundaries. Keep in mind there are exceptions, if there are any problems or concerns address them to your Animal Behaviourist and/or Dog Trainer for assistance.