Introducing dogs and cats

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Longshanks's picture
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Joined: 2013-01-06

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Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone has had any experience introducing dogs and cats. This is the first time I have had a dog and cats at the same time, I think things are ok but I wonder how long it takes. When we first brought Jake home we blocked the stairs with chairs and pillows so the cats would have a space that he could not get into, he soon learned that he could get under the chairs and chased the cats upstairs and cornered them in the bedroom, that was not a good experience.  Since then we have gotten a gate that has a cat door in it so the cats can go up and down but Jake stays downstairs.

We have two cats Gizmo, she is my baby, she is about 5 and spent about a year with a great dane while I was in training, they never became friends but they survived each other. We also have Dante, he is about 9 months and has never been around dogs before. Jake has been with us for 2 weeks, and as of now he has learned to be calm around the cats (no barking or hyper behavior) but he really wants to meet them.

Dante sometimes comes down and gets on the counters he is no longer growling at Jake but keeps his distance and runs upstairs as soon as he can. Cory told me that Jake and Dante 'booped' noses through the gate today, then Dante ran up to the landing and watched Jake. Gizmo is a harder nut to crack, she came down the steps today and started growling and swatting at Jake, Jake did nothing, he just stood there, Gizmo then ran upstairs. Both cats frequently watch him from the landing and Gizmo comes down when he goes outside. Both of my cats love to be with us, we have not watched tv, played computer or slept alone since we have had them, I know that they miss being with us all the time. I spend time sitting with them everyday so they know that we have not forgotten them.

 I am wondering if anyone has any idea of how long it will take the Jake and the cats to get along, if anyone has any tips to speed up the process or if there are behaviors good or bad that I should be looking for. 

 

A picture of my kitties Dante is black and Gizmo is tiger striped.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

Hi, sorry I didn't see this one sooner.....I introduced an 8 year old rescued rottweiler to 3 kittens and their momma recently and it went very well, in fact he loves them now. I was worried about Ben stepping on these tiny babies and killing them at 120lbs. so we opted for a playpen designed for cats it is about the size of a pup tent for two people, we popped it open in the living room and the cats were in there and the dogs were loose in the house, this allowed everyone to smell and get to know each other; then as they got older I was able to allow them out for a bit each day with supervision......your cats are adult sized so no worries of being stomped on.....but a safe place like a wire crate or behind a screened area etc. is always ideal and allows for sniffing and overall safe interaction. While you are available and sharing space with the cats and the dog you can see how they do together but be ready to jump at the first indication of a problem do not assume the cats will know how to defend themselves especially since they have had dog interactions in the past. It sounds like time may be all they need, they will eventually figure out that neither one is leaving and they will have to tolerate each other. Now if the dog becomes pushy with the cats then you will have a different issue one that could lead to serious consequences so watch the dog and any retorts from the dog should be reprimanded I would never reprimand the cats as they need to be able to know it's ok to swat the dog which their only way of letting the dog know to back off......good luck and let us know how it goes....

Lori's picture
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Joined: 2010-04-03

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I've had my cat for 8 years now,  We got Rocky as a puppy and taught him from the start the cat was not his play toy.  My cat is fully clawed and let him know from the start she didn't really want anythign to do with him.  That actually hasn't changed a lot in 3 years.  He mainly ignores her and she him. 

 

Then we added in Pepper a 1 yr old female rescue.  She had very obviously never seen a cat because all she could do was stare at her and nose bump/sniff her for the first week straight much to the cat's dismay.  She's not a fan of 'dog germs'.  We've also learned that Pepper has a high prey drive so if the cat runs she's ALL over chasing her which we are still working on.  I do not 100% trust them together ever after 2 months.   Pepper gets jealous of her and when the cat swats at her she gets mad and tries to nip back.  She is praised for obeying 'leave her' when she goes toward the cat and firmly told No when she doesn't listen.  Every week is better and better, now maybe once a day she has to be told to leave her instead of once a hour.

 

The cats will go near the dogs when they decide they are ready and maybe never.  As long as they can ignore each other and live peacefully and safely together I call it a win on all fronts.   Just keep at it. 

 

Notice 'pillow wall' to fend off said Dog Germs -

KevinK's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-15

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For meetings, I tend to not make a big deal out of it, I like to let everyone meet, see what happens, and then decide what happens next.  If I don't think a dog is going to kill my cats, I just let them in and see what happens, real casual.  If I wasn't sure, I would set up a baby gate or something so that the cats have a place to go if needed that the dog can't.

Dakota is best friends with my 1 cat Fenny, and other 2 cats hate Dakota, but she is dying to just be their buddy.  Dakota and Fenny wrestle, chase each other around, etc.  It's pretty cool.

jpdobie's picture
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Joined: 2012-06-26

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It might be a little harder for you with Jake being a bigger puppy.  When Kevin was a puppy-puppy (8 weeks) we used an x-pen to help the cat adjust.  One thing I'd suggest if you don't do it already is to make sure the cats have several getaway avenues in the house.  Kevin has a high prey drive and literally stalks Butters, but Butters can go into the basement and two bedrooms that Kevin has zero access to.  That way Butters won't hate Kevin forever hopefully.  

I hate that they speak different languages. I watch them talk to each other and Kevin interprets everything Butters does as play, which is NOT the case.  They've only been together for 6 months and I will NOT leave them unsupervised.  I think it'll either take time or they'll never get along, but at least if the cats have their safe place all will be well.

Longshanks's picture
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Joined: 2013-01-06

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Thank you all for the informative responses. Dante and Jake have been doing well, this morning I was feeding them treats together with the gate between them, I was giving a treat to Dante and Jake tried to take it out of my hand, but Dante moved in and took it, also Jake has been able to smell Dante's backside a little bit in the past two days. I would like to have Jake and Dante near each other without the the gate, but I am worried about that plan backfiring, I was reading somewhere that feeding the dog and cats on opposite sides of a door will help, but I don't know if that is something I should do. They already can be in close proximity, with the gate between them and they will eat together. I am working with Jake teaching him not to chase the cats, he has done it in the past and now any time he moves quickly the cats run upstairs even when they cant see him. Gizmo is still more reserved, she does not come to the bottom of the steps and stays upstairs longer when Jake get excited and play jumps near the gate and scares them. I know that Gizmo will take more time and I will let her take things at her own pace, but it seems to me that Dante and Jake just need a little push and they will be friends, does anyone know how to do this or whether this is a good idea.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

It will happen of it's own accord - they will either become friends or not, you can't help them....if you are concerned about chasing the cats you can leash the dog and see how the dog reacts to the quickness of the cats...I always used to leash the dog and let the cats do their thing and that way if the dog began an unacceptable move I could do a quick snap command with the leash just enough to distract not a jerk but the correction snap.....

Longshanks's picture
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I think we are making progress on the cat/dog issue. We are keeping Jake on the leash when he is in the house so that we can easily control him when the cats are near. We have had some luck with both cats coming down stairs, mostly when Jake is outside, but we are now letting Jake back in when the cats are down, but keeping him on the leash so he can not run after them. If one of them is downstairs Jake can get fixated on it, I have been using treats and working on getting him to sit, and lay down when the cats are out to keep his mind busy and off the cat. The cats have not been sitting on the stairs watching Jake like they have been for the past few weeks, but now they are coming down when he is there, so I think this is progress. Our trainer has suggested that we work with Jake and the cats,  Jake will be with one of us giving him treats and praise and the other one working with the cats in the same room, giving them treats and praise also so they start to feel more comfortable around him. We are going to do that this coming weekend I hope everything goes well.  Advice is always welcome :)

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

One thing that I always did without hesitation throughout the whole life of any of my dogs is - when the cats are in the space with the dog if the dog so much as looked at the cat with anything other than a passing glance I would snap my finger and point at the dog, making eye contact with my dog and tell them the correction word/phrase which in my house is a stern "I don't think so" or a clearing of my throat and as soon as the dog quit looking at the cat/cats I would praise the dog. I never let the dog move toward the cats, I didn't let the dog play with the cats, I only tolerated ignoring the cats. With Ben the rottweiler he likes cats up to a point he prefers to ignore them but the cats LOVE their dogs and have no fear of dogs so they go up to Ben and rub on him etc. sometimes he ignores them other times he looks at them like he is not happy and that's when I correct him with the snap and a NO, the second he stops he gets praise. He has NEVER snapped or anything at a cat but that's because the second I see any and I do mean Any look, body language etc. that says he is "interested" in what the cat is doing it's corrected. When the cats rub on his front legs and he looks at me without noticing the cats I praise him for standing there and letting it happen, so in my house the cats get to be nice to the dog but the dog is not allowed to react to the cats......I know it's great to see dogs and cats playing but for me it is a safety issue that I am not willing to risk. Cats are not playthings they are members of the household and to be ignored by the dogs. If you truly are noticing "fixation" type behavior you may learn that your dog has a prey drive for the cats and their quick movement. I would not play with the dog with toys that move or have anything similar to cat movements, appearance, or smells. Fixation is not good with small animals......you will need to be on hyper alert to correct any movement towards the cats; the fact that your cats don't feel safe downstairs with him is your clue to listen to the cats as they know who to trust and who not to; convincing the cats to go against their own best judgement and trust the dog when they don't feel he is trustworthy is asking for trouble. Let the cats decide when they can trust him. Species have their own 6th sense on these things trust them to know......Hope that helps some......

Longshanks's picture
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Talisin, thank you for your help, I think that I am going about the training wrong I am going to start teaching Jake to ignore the cats completely. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for what to do when Jake is ready to come back inside and the cats are downstairs. I have been letting Jake in on the leash and walking him away from the cats. I don't want to chase the cats upstairs before I bring Jake in,  I think that will tell them that they have to be upstairs when Jake is in the house, but I don't know if letting him in and holding on to him is good either.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

Good question.....does Jake have to sit outside before you open the door?? if so can you get him in the door without him just taking off?? in other words can you train him to sit inside once he comes in the door??? You can also train the cats - as you let Jake in on lead......when you go to hook him up outside to bring him just say "Jake's coming in" and eventually the cats will learn they either leave or trust you to handle it.....I would teach the cats at the same time I tried to control Jake at the door, if he is prone to coming in an chasing the cats upstairs don't let him in without a lead, while on lead begin teaching him that he has to sit and wait until you release him; this will give the cats a chance to leave if they want to and it makes him calm down; I would definitely keep him on lead with me until you are certain he is not a threat to the cats.....so first teach him sit at the door (both sides) release him to come inside with whatever you word you use like OK, NOW, etc. as you head to the door to let Jake in tell cats Jake is coming in; keep him on lead until he has mastered the sit/wait command (use treats), use the sit, wait commands until the cats are out of the room and not an enticement.......you could bring treats to the door and once he's inside the door put him in a sit and do a few little command series to earn treats and keep him from noticing the cats......if he wants to go after the cats then encourage him back by using the treats to pull his eyes back to you.....it's easier to tether the dog to you than keep track of the cats......if need be you can also stomp your foot at the cats as you say "Jake is coming in" to get them to race upstairs or away from the door where Jake will be coming in, cats don't take it personally if you stomp your feet and spook them away from the door trust me on that one, 45 years of multiple cats inside and door issues stomp away hahahaha

Note: I forgot to mention that if you feel Jake will think you stomping at the cats is telling him that they are to chased away then don't stomp your feet while Jake can see you.....dobermans are smart enough to put the stomping foot and cat together to mean chase cats mom doesn't like them.......so nix that idea........