Introducing Dogs to Cats: Stages of Comfort and Interaction

introducing dogs cats stages

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some basic themes to consider when you’re thinking of introducing your dog(s) to one or more cats. While it’s true that some dog-cat relationships aren’t perfect, there are many things you can do as a pet owner to position both animals for the ideal comfort within their new settings.

At Innovative K9 Academy, we offer numerous services to help train and improve dog behavior, from dog training boot camp to puppy school, dog trainer school and more. We’ve helped many of our dog owners who are looking to introduce a cat into the environment, assisting them with all the most important themes. While part one of our series went over cat selection and ideal first meeting location, today’s part two will dig into some general tips for moving forward with the relationship once the two have met.

Initial Separation

After the two animals have met, most trainers and pet experts will generally recommend separating them for a few days. The ideal format here is to trade off days — on some days, the dog will be allowed to roam the house freely while the cat remains in a crate or room; on other days, the opposite will be the case (within reason, of course).

This allows both of the animals to get a feel for one another — and to get comfortable with the other’s smells — without allowing them to damage furniture or belongings. This can also help with true feelings about one another — if the cat has been hiding from the dog, this will quickly become apparent once they’re out and about.

Once both animals are relatively calm in this setting, and are behaving roughly normally, you can proceed.

Leashed Re-Introductions

As you begin combining the animals into the same room, it’s good to keep your dog securely leashed just to ensure they’ll remain calm. If these initial re-introductions lead to fear or aggression displayed by either animal, it might be best to drop back to our previous step and give them a bit longer apart. And during this stage, the two should still be separated while no one is home.

Unsupervised Interactions

Finally, once you’re completely confident that the two animals will be fine around one another when left alone, you can remove their leashes and give them access to the house without supervision. Just make sure there are a few “safe” areas for both animals should things go south — a puppy pen should keep your dog confined while a kitten playpen or other kitty safety zone should provide the other with a sense of safety. Also, beware that the time it takes to make it to this step will vary widely from animal to animal, so you should not get frustrated if it’s taking a bit longer than you expected.

For more on how to introduce a dog to a new cat, or to learn about any of our dog training services, speak to the staff at Innovative K9 Academy today.