How to Introduce Cats and Dogs Safely & Effectively

There are three types of people in this world: Cat people, dog people and people who just can’t choose between these two loveable animals. If you’re in the last group, you may be wondering how to introduce a dog to a cat and create a household where they can live together in harmony. When it’s time to introduce your favorite feline to your canine companion, you might be afraid that they’ll fight like, well, cats and dogs. Luckily, there are methods you can rely on when it’s time for your kitty and your puppy to meet. Read on to find out how it’s done….
Stephanie Laming - Licensed Insurance Representative of 11 years & Dog Mum to 5 year old Tina
October 6, 2022
min read

Three Best Methods for Introducing Dogs and Cats

So you want a peaceful home where dogs and cats can live together, but having to introduce a dog and cat is always a bit nerve wracking. These two animals are not natural friends, and you may find the predatory instinct of the bigger of the pair, usually the dog, kicks in, and they see the new arrival as potential prey, rather than a friend. 

It is, however, possible to get your dog and cat to interact peacefully. There are three methods you can try. Let’s explore the best three ways of introducing a feline and a canine…

1. Slow and Steady

Our first method on how to introduce dogs to cats has the aim of slowly desensitizing your dog to your cat, so that the canine no longer sees the cat’s presence as something exciting or unusual.  

To do this, you’ll need to isolate your cat somewhere they can’t escape from, but where your dog can see them without being able to get to them. A baby gate or something similar would be ideal. Make sure your cat can’t escape and choose a room your dog doesn’t need to visit for food, to sleep, or for any other reason. You’ll also need to ensure your confined cat has everything they need - water, food, a litter box and some kitty toys. 

Then, it’s time to take your dog for visits to meet their new friend. The first few times, allow your dog to take a peak and a sniff through the gate, before distracting them with a toy or treat. This will send the message that they will be rewarded for not paying too much attention to your new feline friend.  

The ultimate result of this painstaking training will be for your dog and cat to be able to see each other without reacting in excitement, panic, or fear. 

2. Face-to-face

While the slow and steady method is perhaps the safest way to introduce dogs and cats, some may feel that they need a quicker and more direct way to introduce their kitty to their pup. That’s where the face-to-face method comes in, but it may be best to use another method if your doggo seems to go crazy every time they spot your cat.

As the name suggests, the way this method works is to rip the bandaid off by introducing your dog and cat face-to-face straight away. You will need to keep your dog on a loose lead and keep a close watch to see if their body language remains calm. You will also need to monitor your cat’s body language, and call the introduction off if your feline friend is hissing or arching their back. 

If both your dog and cat seem to be calm in each other’s presence, you can command the dog to sit, lie down, or stay, while the cat sniffs them and gets to know their new housemate. Reward your dog with a treat if they remain calm and mainly disinterested in your cat. 

When trying this method, you’ll need to be ready if you don’t think your two furry friends can interact safely. If this is the case, you may need to try our slow and steady method. Or, there’s the ‘look at that method’. Read on to find out how that works…

3. ‘Look at That’ Method

Dogs aren’t known for their long attention spans, and you can use this to your advantage by trying this training method, which involves distracting your doggo when they’re on the verge of becoming too excited when they see something that triggers their wild side, in this case your kitty cat. 

For this method, your goal is to get your dog to look at the cat, then back to you for a treat. The treat will show your doggy that they will be rewarded for not paying the cat any unwanted attention. 

You’ll need to use a loose lead and work out the distance your dog can go to your cat without losing their cool. If your dog starts lunging at your cat, they’re too close. Once you’ve found the right distance, you can use a clicker or a simple command such as ‘yes’ or ‘good’ and be ready with a treat each time the dog looks at the cat.

While you will need to put the treat close to your dog’s face the first few times, they should soon be turning back in expectation of another treat after looking at your cat. You can then start moving your dog closer to your cat, and stopping when you get to a distance where your dog starts trying to get to your cat. Keep going until the dog can sit right by the cat without any problems. The amount of time it takes to get there will vary, depending on the specific dog and cat.  

How to Introduce Cats and Dogs: Tips

There are lots of variables to consider when introducing cats and dogs. If the dog is aggressive or high energy, and the cat skittish, you may never reach a point where they can interact peacefully, so it’s best to try to find a good match before you introduce a new dog or cat to your home. 

Keep Them Separate At First

Whether you’re introducing a new kitten or cat to your household and already have a dog, or introducing a puppy to cats, it’s best to keep the newest member of your household separate from any animals that live with you at first.   

Feed on Opposite Sides of a Closed Door

One way to introduce canines and felines is the slow and steady method of feeding each pet on the other side of a closed door. The scent of food, and each other, can help the new pair of unlikely friends to think of each other in a positive light. 

Practice Canine Obedience First

The best way to ensure that a dog will be able to coexist peacefully with a cat is to make sure the dog is properly trained. Dogs, unlike cats, are highly trainable, and you can use this to your advantage by spending time on training your dog to understand that the cat is off limits when it comes to unwanted attention. 

Final Thoughts

While introducing two animals who are usually seen as natural enemies to each other can be daunting, there are many households where dogs and cats get along just fine. Following the methods in this article should get you to a point where canine and feline can coexist, and in some cases they may even become besties. 

If introducing a dog and cat doesn’t go according to plan, and one member of the pair gets hurt, head to a trusted vet immediately. 

Did you know pet insurance can help cover emergency health expenses? Click here to learn more and compare affordable plans.

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GoodPaw Pet Services Inc., GoodPaw, offers free advice, product information and other editorial resources that are intended for informative purposes only, and should not be used in place of proper veterinary care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet is experiencing any health concerns, contact a licensed veterinarian. GoodPaw assumes no responsibility for action taken based on information given from

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