How to Introduce Dogs to Cats

Three Methods:Preparing Your Home for a New PetTraining Your Dog to Behave Around Your CatUsing a Scent Handshake

Bringing a new cat or dog into your home can be complicated if you already have a cat or dog or both. It is hard to know how your cat and dog will react to each other when they meet for the first time. There are several things that you can do to introduce cats and dogs to each other including getting your home ready for your new addition, using training techniques, and using a scent handshake. To ease the transition for your pets, take some time to learn how to introduce cats and dogs to each other before you bring home your new cat or dog.

Method 1
Preparing Your Home for a New Pet

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    Consider your current pets. Before you decide to bring a new pet into your home, you may want to consider how your current pets will react to a new addition. Think about how your current pets might react to a new pet and use this information to help inform your decision. Considering how your pets might react will also help you to develop a plan for introducing the new pets into your home.[1]
    • For example, if you have dogs and you are thinking about bringing a new cat into your home, how might the dogs react? Are they familiar with cats? Have you ever had a cat before? If so, how did your dogs act around the cats? Did they chase the cats or ignore them?
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    Prepare a room or safe area for your new pet. Coming into a new home is a frightening experience for a pet, so you should create a safe, quiet space for your new pet to escape to when necessary. You may use a spare bedroom, a quiet corner of your living room, or a hallway. Whatever area you choose, make sure that you make it a safe space where your new pet can escape to if needed.[2]
    • For example, if you are bringing home a new cat, you could place a litter box and some food and water in a room where people seldom go. Allow your new cat to stay in this room for the first week in your home to get used to the sounds and smells of her new home. During this time, let your dog sniff the door and get used to the smell of the cat. This will be helpful when you introduce them to each other.
    • Make sure that you visit your new pet often and allow your new pet some time to roam the house as well. Keep in mind that providing a safe space or room should only be a temporary measure to help your pets get acquainted with each other.
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    Put up baby gates. Baby gates are a great way to allow your cat and dog to coexist. By having baby gates placed in a few doorways in your home, you can prevent your dog from going into areas where you keep your cat’s food, water, and litter boxes. Baby gates also provide an easy way for your cat to escape from your dog if necessary.[3]
    • If your cat is older and cannot jump the gate, try placing the gate higher up so that your cat can fit under it but your dog cannot.

Method 2
Training Your Dog to Behave Around Your Cat

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    Use dog appeasing pheromone to help calm your dog. You can purchase dog appeasing pheromone diffusers, collars, and sprays to help calm your dog during a period of transition. These products release a scent similar to the scent that mother dogs release to keep their puppies calm. Using one of these products may help your dog to feel better about coming into your home or meeting a new cat, which may make training easier.[4]
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    Introduce your dog and cat to each other. Take your dog on a long walk before you plan on introducing him to your cat. Keep him on his leash, and have him sit while you have another person bring in your cat. Reward your dog for ignoring your cat. Repeat this as often as necessary until your dog shows no interest in chasing your cat. Once he is disinterested in your cat, you can give him more line on his leash.
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    Stop your dog from chasing your cat. When your dog is first getting acquainted with your cat, you will need to make sure that you prevent your dog from chasing your cat. You can either distract your dog when he or she starts to chase after your cat or use a leash to control your dog whenever your dog and cat are around each other.[5]
    • Try clapping your hands together once to get your dog’s attention if he tries to chase your cat. Then, command your dog to “sit” so that your cat has a chance to get out of the room.
    • If your dog is hard to control and does not respond to commands yet, consider a training harness. Training harnesses apply gentle pressure that will prevent your dog from pulling and getting away from you.
    • Intervene if your dog corners your cat. Even if your dog is only playing he may cause serious harm to your cat.
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    Teach your dog basic commands like “sit” and “leave it.” Training a dog to behave around a cat is crucial to keeping the peace within a household, so your dog would benefit from knowing some basic commands. If your dog is not already trained in basic commands such as “sit” and “leave it,” take some time each day to teach your dog these commands.[6]
    • Keep training sessions short and focused. Repeat the command four or five times and immediately reward your dog with a treat each time he follows the command.
    • If your dog has a hard time learning these commands, consider getting help from a certified professional dog trainer. Contact your veterinarian for a recommendation.
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    Reinforce good behavior with praise and treats. Positive reinforcement is the best way to let your dog know that he has done something good and you want him to keep repeating that behavior. Try to reinforce your dog’s good behavior whenever you notice it by giving him some praise and a treat.[7]
    • For example, if your dog notices your cat walking through the room and does not chase or harass the cat, give your dog some praise and a treat right away to let him know that this behavior is desirable.

Method 3
Using a Scent Handshake

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    Get a couple of dry washcloths or rags to perform the scent handshake. A scent handshake is a way to introduce two animals before they meet each other. To perform a scent handshake, you will need a couple of rags or old washcloths. Use rags or washcloths that you won’t miss in case they get soiled or ripped.[8]
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    Rub one of the cloths on your dog and one on your cat. Take one of the cloths and rub it on your dog’s back and rear end. Then, take the other cloth and rub it on your cat’s chin and the sides of her face. You may want to use two different color cloths so that you can tell them apart.[9]
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    Swap the cloths and allow your pets to get used to their scents. After you have gotten your pets’ scents on the cloths, give each pet the other pet’s cloth. Give the cat’s cloth to the dog and give the dog’s cloth to the cat. Allow your pets to sniff the cloths and get used to the scents for a few days before you introduce them to each other.[10]


  • If you will be adopting your new pet, then you may have access to resources that may ease your new pet’s transition into your home. For example, some adoption agencies may be willing to help you introduce your new pet to your current pets. Find out what resources are available to you before you decide to bring home a new dog or cat.


  • Do not leave your cat and dog alone together when they are first getting to know each other. Always supervise their interactions until you are certain that they get along.

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Categories: Cats | Dogs