Introducing Your New Dog to Your Other Pets


Introducing Your New Dog to Your Other Pets

Copyright Denver Dumb Friends League and Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.

It’s important to have realistic expectations when introducing a new pet to a resident pet. Some pets are more social than others. For example, an eight-year-old dog that has never been around other animals may never learn to share his/her territory (or his/her people) with other pets in the household. However, an eight-week-old puppy separated from his/her mom and littermates for the first time, might prefer to have a cat or dog companion. If you are introducing your new dog to a resident cat, it is important to know that cats are territorial and need to be introduced to other animals very slowly in order to give them time to get used to each other before there is a faceto- face confrontation. Slow introductions help prevent fearful and aggressive problems from developing. PLEASE NOTE: When you introduce pets to each other, one of them may send “play” signals which can be misinterpreted by the other pet. If those signals are interpreted as aggression by one animal, then you should handle the situation as “aggressive.”


If you are introducing your new dog to a resident cat, confine your cat to one medium-sized room with her litter box, food, water and a bed. Feed your resident pets and the newcomer on each side of the door to this room. This will help all of them to associate something enjoyable (eating!) with each other’s smells. Don’t put the food so close to the door that the animals are too upset by each other’s presence to eat. Gradually move the dishes closer to the door until your pets can eat calmly, directly on either side of the door. Next, use two doorstops to prop open the door just enough to allow the animals to see each other, and repeat the whole process.

Swap Scents

Switch sleeping blankets or beds between your new dog and your resident animals so they have a chance to become accustomed to each other’s scent. Rub a towel on one animal and put it underneath the food dish of another animal. You should do this with each animal in the house.

Switch Living Areas

Give your new dog free time in the cat’s room(s) while confining your other animals. This switch provides another way for the animals to experience each other’s scents without a face-to-face meeting. It also allows the newcomer to become familiar with his/her new surroundings without being frightened by the other animals.

Avoid Fearful And Aggressive Meetings

Avoid any interactions between your pets that result in either fearful or aggressive behavior. If these responses are allowed to become a habit, they can be difficult to change. It’s better to introduce your pets to each other so gradually that neither animal becomes afraid or aggressive. You can expect mild forms of these behaviors, but don’t give them the opportunity to intensify. If either animal becomes fearful or aggressive, separate them, and start over with the introduction process in a series of very small, gradual steps, as outlined above.


If one of your pets has a medical problem or is injured, this could stall the introduction process. Check with your veterinarian to be sure that all of your pets are healthy. You’ll also want to have at least one litter box per cat, and you’ll probably need to clean all of the litter boxes more frequently. Make sure that none of the cats are being “ambushed” by another while trying to use the litter box. Try to keep your resident pets’ schedule as close as possible to what it was before the newcomer’s appearance. Cats can make lots of noise, pull each other’s hair, and roll around quite dramatically without either cat being injured. If small spats do occur between your cats, you shouldn’t attempt to intervene directly to separate the cats. Instead, make a loud noise, throw a pillow, or use a squirt bottle with water and vinegar to separate the cats. Give them a chance to calm down before re-introducing them to each other. Be sure each cat has a safe hiding place.

Dog to Cat Introductions

Dogs can kill a cat very easily, even if they’re only playing. All it takes is one shake and the cat’s neck can break. Some dogs have such a high prey drive they should never be left alone with a cat. Dogs usually want to chase and play with cats, and cats usually become afraid and defensive. Use the techniques aforementioned to begin introducing your new cat to your resident dog. In addition:

Practice Obedience

If your dog doesn’t already know the commands “sit,” “down,” “come” and “stay,” you should begin working on them. Small pieces of food will increase your dog’s motivation to perform, which will be necessary in the presence of such a strong distraction as a new cat. Even if your dog already knows these commands, work with obeying commands in return for a tidbit.

Controlled Meeting

After your new dog and resident cat have become comfortable eating on opposite sides of the door, and have been exposed to each other’s scents as described above, you can attempt a face-to-face introduction in a controlled manner. Put your dog’s leash on, and using treats, have him either sit or lie down and stay. Have another family member or friend enter the room and quietly sit down next to your cat, but don’t have them physically restrain her. Have this person offer your cat some special pieces of food or catnip. At first, the cat and the dog should be on opposite sides of the room. Lots of short visits are better than a few long visits. Don’t drag out the visit so long that the dog becomes uncontrollable. Repeat this step several times until both the cat and dog are tolerating each other’s presence without fear, aggression or other undesirable behavior.

Let Your Cat Go

Next, allow your cat freedom to explore your dog at her own pace, with the dog still on-leash and in a “down-stay.” Meanwhile, keep giving your dog treats and praise for his calm behavior. If your dog gets up from his “stay” position, he should be repositioned with a treat lure, and praised and rewarded for obeying the “stay” command. If your cat runs away or becomes aggressive, you’re progressing too fast. Go back to the previous introduction steps. If you cannot get a handle on your dog’s behavior, a good quality training class can put you back in control of your dog so that your cat can enjoy her home too! Do not allow your dog to chase ANY small animals. That will only undermine training your dog to leave your cat alone.

Positive Reinforcement

Although your dog must be taught that chasing or being rough with your cat is unacceptable behavior, he must also be taught how to behave appropriately, and be rewarded for doing so, such as sitting, coming when called, or lying down in return for a treat. If your dog is always punished when your cat is around, and never has “good things” happen in the cat’s presence, your dog may redirect aggression toward the cat. Allow your cat to approach your dog. By all means, allow your cat to walk up and investigate your dog but watch carefully so that your dog does not attempt to chase your cat. By allowing this to happen, your cat will gain trust in you and your dog that nothing bad is going to happen to her. Your cat will begin to realize that sharing a house with a dog (who is not allowed to approach her) isn’t so bad at all!  Give your dog an outlet for his chase behavior. Teach him to chase a ball, Frisbee, tether ball or squeaky toy rather than your cat. Regular exercise can help your dog remain calm around your cat.

Directly Supervise All Interactions Between Your Dog And Cat

You may want to keep your dog on-leash and with you whenever your cat is free in the house during the introduction process. Be sure that your cat has an escape route and a place to hide. Keep your dog and cat separated when you aren’t home until you’re certain your cat will be safe.


Dogs like to eat cat food. Eating cat food can cause kidney and liver problems in dogs because the protein and fat content in cat food is too high for dogs to digest appropriately. You should keep the cat food out of your dog’s reach (in a closet or on a high shelf). Eating cat feces is also a relatively common behavior in dogs. Although there are no health hazards to your dog, it’s probably distasteful to you. It’s also upsetting to your cat to have such an important object “invaded.” Unfortunately, attempts to keep your dog out of the litter box by “booby trapping” it will also keep your cat away as well. Punishment after the fact will not change your dog’s behavior. The best solution is to place the litter box where your dog can’t access it, for example: behind a baby gate; in a closet with the door anchored open from both sides and just wide enough for your cat; or inside a tall, topless cardboard box with easy access for your cat.

A Word About Kittens And Puppies

Because they’re so much smaller, kittens are in more danger of being injured, of being killed by a young energetic dog, or by a predatory dog. A kitten will need to be kept separate from an especially energetic dog until she is fullygrown, and even then she should never be left alone with the dog. Usually, a well-socialized cat will be able to keep a puppy in its place, but some cats don’t have enough confidence to do this. If you have an especially shy cat, you might need to keep her separated from your puppy until he matures enough to have more self-control.

When To Get Help

If introductions don’t go smoothly, seek professional help immediately (see our handout: “When the Helpline Can’t Help”). Animals can be severely injured in fights, and the longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Conflicts between pets in the same family can often be resolved with professional help. Punishment won’t work, though, and could make things worse.



Dog Massage..what are the benefits???

After receiving a comment yesterday from a therapist that is about to start her training in animal massage. I was intrigued, and did some research on the subject. This was not something I had heard of before and I could not imagine what benifit it would have for an animal other than the obvious. (sore muscles) I could not have been more wrong. Here is what I have found out….

The benefits of dog massage include the following:

  • Helps maintain wellness

  • Increases and balances circulation of blood and lymph

  • Restores range of motion and flexibility (great for dogs with hip dysplasia and arthritis)

  • Relieves emotional pain such as loss of a pet, fear, abuse

  • Reduces recovery time after surgery

  • Increases bone density

  • Helps alleviate pain

  • Reduces edema

  • Comforts tired muscles

  • Strengthens the body by stimulating muscles

  • Helps in time of injury such as pulled muscle, or broken bone

  • Enables caregiver to be the first line of defense

  • Dog Massage: Is It Just For Pampered Pups?

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    By Joanna Pompilio

    City life can get overwhelming. The noise, the crowds and the bustle causes stress for the two and four legged city dweller. Why not massage them away? It can be a healthy and holistic way to rub the anxiety of city life right out of your dog. 

    Sure it sounds divine and too delicious for words, but there are benefits to dogs getting massaged other than just plain pampering. Massage improves flexibility and alleviates arthritic pain. It can aid in surgical recovery and help pets cope with emotional or physical trauma while increasing muscle tone. Massage therapists can also detect lumps or growths that may go unnoticed in-between vet check-ups.

    Canine massage utilizes many of the same techniques used on people, and offers the same results. Not only does it allow for increased levels of relaxation, it increases circulation to areas with restricted blood flow. Proper blood circulation keeps the body in balance and allows bowl regularity and metabolic efficiency, especially if the dog is older or leads a more sedentary lifestyle.

    Performance dogs, show dogs, and race dogs are known to routinely get massages to elevate their level of performance. It can also alleviate the stress brought about by an environmental change such as a move or a boarding experience. Dogs pick up on their owners stress and as a result, develop anxiety of their own.  A massage can reduce nervous tension and promote a sense of calm in more hyperactive dogs.

    Young puppies especially benefit from a good rub down. Massaging a pup gets him accustomed to human touch and aids in socialization. It is likely a pup will think a massage is playtime, but after a few minutes he will unwind and enjoy, much like his human counterpart.

    Techniques can vary according to the system the massage is targeted to affect. Stretching massage benefits muscles and range of motion in joints. Petrissage involves kneading and pulling which aids the skin and muscles. The light touch and stroking of effleurage targets the nervous system and the stroking improves circulation. Tapotement is quick and stimulating strokes. Technique will vary depending on why the dog is visiting a massage therapist and what the ultimate goal of the session is looking to accomplish.

    For medicinal purposes, a professional massage therapist, in conjunction with a vet, will evaluate the number of sessions required. Dogs recovering from an injury may need several visits per week whereas puppies should be massaged after a growth spurt. Because it enhances muscle function, and reduces muscle tension, a massage is especially helpful for dogs suffering from arthritis, thus their owners may consider more frequent visits.

    If you are looking to just spoil your pooch and he does not require any medical attention a massage therapist could be either recommended by a vet, trainer, groomer or other dog owner. Anyone claiming to be a massage therapist should be certified. Do not be shy about asking for proof of certification.  Should a massage therapist hesitate to show their certification, take that as a red flag.

     Massage therapy is often available in conjunction with boarding or grooming services, or can be scheduled as an individual service. Fees can range from $50 to $70 an hour, depending on where it is scheduled and the length of time requested