Hello! + requesting dog introduction advice + pictures! - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Connecticut
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Hello! + requesting dog introduction advice + pictures!

Hi all,

I just registered as I've adopted a cat recently and I would really appreciate some advice/insight from you folks.

6 days ago today, I adopted Hutch, an absolutely darling 5-year-old orange and white tabby. His owners could no longer keep him because since discovering she was pregnant, buying a home was looking to be much further in the future than they had hoped. They had just moved here at the end of 2012 and have two dogs as well, but the pet limit in their apartment is 2, and they were hiding Hutch from the landlord. They loved him dearly, had him since he was adopted at 8wks old and he grew up around two dogs. They got along fine, even snuggled together sometimes, and Hutch held his own when they were being a little too rowdy.

He's adjusting really well for his entire life being turned upside down. Within the first five minutes of being in his "safe room", he was pawing at the door to get out and explore. He stays on the second floor mostly still, but if I can coax him to come downstairs, he'll stay in the living room for hours. The only place he really ever falls asleep is on my bed (my bedroom was his "safe room" and has the food/litter) or in the living room. He won't go into my brother's room still, it's on the other side of my house on the 2nd floor. He actually explored it the first two days he was here, but after that hasn't gone near it, even with coaxing. Not that I'm worried about it, I'm sure he'll come around.

I have a dog as well. His name is Charlie. He's a 7-year-old 35 lb cockapoo. He's a sweetheart, but he can definitely be rambunctious (Hutch lived with a rambunctious dog around the same size). We had a (brave!) cat for the first 4 years of his life and they were best buds, before he was hit by a car (RIP Bagels). Charlie learned to respect Bagels, and they would sleep together and lick each other all day on the couch. So we know he's cat friendly. But it's been a few years.

Charlie has had his roam of the kitchen for the past six days, which we've closed the doors to so Hutch doesn't interact with him yet. A few times we've put Charlie in the den and closed the doors there so Hutch has been able to explore the kitchen, taking extra sniffs of his dog bed. I took the furminator to Hutch and rubbed some of his fur in Charlie's bed, too.

Now, the biggest PITA in my house is my brother. On the second day of Hutch being home, my brother insisted that it was time for introductions. Before this, every two hours he was saying "when can Hutch meet Charlie?" "Weeks," I said. He scoffed and said no way. (You'd think he's 14, right? Nope, he's a 28 year old doctoral student...) Hutch was chilling in the living room when my brother opened the kitchen door with the leash in hand. "Get the heck out of here with that. He's not ready yet." My brother didn't listen. He had treats in his hand like I had talked about for when the time was right. Some profanities were strewn about, but then we were at the point of no return...Hutch was immediately in defense mode under the coffee table and Charlie was on his leash, huge eyes, tail wagging, occasionally jumping up and pulling. After a few minutes of stare downs and Charlie getting rewarded for being still, Hutch began hissing. He approached Charlie, hair standing, and gave him a big ol' scratch on the face along with a nasty hiss. Charlie snapped back. It all happened in a split second. I'd never seen Charlie snap. I was emotional after that happened, told my dad how upset I was over my brother's behavior. That night my dad yelled at him and he hasn't brought up them meeting since. Hutch has been a bit more reserved since, but he's still being a trooper. It was really disheartening though. And now I just get negative thoughts in my head, like "what if they never get along? What if Hutch is terrified of him forever? What if Charlie snaps again? How far did that push our progress back?"

This all must be so hard for Hutch, and he really is such a loving, gentle soul. I just want to do whatever I can to make this easier for him, he more than deserves it.

My questions:
When and how should I go about introducing Hutch and my dog? Should I let them sniff each other through a cracked door for a few days/weeks? I've done that once since the meeting, but Charlie was very excited and kinda creeped Hutch out.

Should I wait until Hutch is walking around like he owns the place? (That's how he was with his old family, he loved everyone and was very confident. When we first met him he was right there by the door with the dogs, wondering who the new people were. He supposedly handled the move better than the dogs). How long do you think this might take for him?

As you can understand, them getting along is my absolute priority as they are both loved members of the family. I know six days isn't long at all I wasn't planning on introducing them for a few weeks, so I'm willing to wait. Sorry for writing such a book. Thanks so much to anyone who helps.

And the other star of the show:

TL;DR: Adopted a 5-year-old confident/social kitty 6 days ago who lived with dogs growing up. He's adjusting pretty well but my brother attempted to "introduce" the cat to our dog (7 y/o 35lb cockapoo) without my permission on his 2nd day home. After a stare down, cat hissed and scratched, dog snapped back (he was restrained on a leash whole time). Dog has lived with a cat growing up so we know he is cat friendly, and vice versa. Dog never snapped before that. What steps should I take next to ensure they'll get along when they're ready? What is a good method of cat/dog introduction given this situation? Thank you!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 12:33 AM
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I don't have any dogs, but Jackson Galaxy (my faux beau) has great advice for introductions

Cat-to-Dog Introductions | Little Big Cat

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Always in my heart, my lovely Cinderella, running free at the Bridge.
Always in my heart, my sweet Cali, running free at the Bridge.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 07:35 AM
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I normally have a mix of both. I find that it helps to have given the dog major exercise before hand. Initially, it's a good idea for the dog to be on the lead and please make sure that the cat has safe perches out of canine reach. Before ever you get to that stage it might be worth exchanging smells (blankets, etc.). Feliway and its canine equivalent (the name temporarily escapes me are worth a try. I find the slit in the door doesn't work for all dogs - lots of terriers, for example, get much more excited with that than other approaches.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 08:17 AM
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I've never separated my dog/cat except with my first when he was very scared and that was just to get him used to a new place. With my new dog, I just had to train him that the cats weren't for chasing and allow them to approach him. But from day 1 he was allowed to interact with the cats so that he knew they weren't a big deal. If you make it a production, the dog will sense that and have nervous energy. If he's lunging and barking, I wouldn't have even tried to introduce them.

My dog had to remain calm but could sniff the cats. They all eventually came around and now love him to bits! Now the cats love being chased by him and they even wrestle with him

Snapping at the cat definitely wouldn't be allowed, did he bite the cat? I've heard too many stories where the dog kills the family cat, luckily I've never had to worry about that, I would be very careful with introducing them, but i would try a little every day. A good round of fetch and a large run will help as the dog 'should' be too tired to have nervous/excited energy. I would also ditch the treats, that probably made the dog more excited than anything which would make the cat nervous. What was the dog doing when he received a swipe? My cats have swatted my dog but never used their claws (funny to see a 3 lb kitten take on a 50lb dog, LOL)

Arianwen, the dog pheromone is called D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) The comfort zone company makes a product with both Feliway and DAP.

Last edited by 3gatos; 03-09-2013 at 08:19 AM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 04:41 PM
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Thanks 3gatos!! That is it!

Like you, I have always ended up with dogs and cats who really get on. I often tell people that my current dog was trained by a total expert - my old cat Shadow. The two girls I had at the time, watched from a distance until they felt he had done his job!! That same dog now lives with six cats - only one of whom I had when she was first adopted.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-09-2013, 05:47 PM Thread Starter
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I read the little big cat article yesterday, some very useful information.

Another issue he is having is barking/growling at the cat when the cat walks in the kitchen (and he is tethered on the other side of the room). This happened yesterday. I was thinking of filling a spray bottle with half water/vinegar, and giving him a little spritz on the nose with a "no bark" when he's making noise and praise when he's being good. (I've tried time outs, and a stern "no," but he's too preoccupied by the cat's presence). Hutch walked in in a very nonchalant manner, and it was even after *quietly* watching each other through a cracked door. But the dog was still reacting this way. Hutch got spooked and hid behind the door with huge eyes after this. How does this idea sound? I know I don't want to associate negative things with the cat's presence, but...

Charlie did not bite the cat, only snapped forward after getting scratched. There was no blood, so I'm not sure if he actually used his claws. Like I said, he's lived happily with a cat, has no aggressive tendencies and I've never seen him snap, so I'm not really worried about him harming Hutch. He's not much bigger than him either, Hutch is a big guy. I know I still need to use caution though.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 01:20 AM
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I brought home two kittens last summer. I already have a 15 year old cat and a VERY ACTIVE 3 year old German Shepherd. My introduction was slow and it probably could have been faster but I prefer to just go slow and safe. I didn't even let the kittens see the dog or my other cat for the first few weeks. Animals rely a lot more on smell than us, so just smelling each other in the house was probably a big step for them.

I would also take each animal stuff that smelled like the other animal. The kittens would hiss and fluff up at unfamiliar dog smell- to me this was a sure sign that they were not ready to meet face to face.

Anyway, I didn't even try an introduction until weeks in and then I made sure my dog was *tired* and on a leash. He also knows what "leave it" means.

I guess you know your dog and it really depends on the situation, but I personally would not punish my dog for barking at a new thing because of the negative association thing. Dogs really look to us humans to tell them how to act- if we act frustrated, they will get frustrated. If we act mad, they get worried.

This method:


has helped me greatly in teaching my excitable dog to be calm in different situations. You first want to practice it with no distractions (so your dog gets the idea that they are rewarded for doing nothing or just laying there being calm) and then add in distractions.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 11:44 AM
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Our dogs have always been around cats, but when we introduced our new kittens to our dogs, we simply gated off the "cat's room" with a baby gate. In reality the cat's room was just a spare bedroom. The baby gate allowed the kittens and dogs to become familiar with each other. It gave the kittens a safe dog free area if they felt the needed it and the kittens could come and go over the gate as the pleased. Within the month the dogs were used to having the kittens around and had little more than a passing interest when they encountered them. The kittens have been in our home for 6 months now and get along famously with the dogs....even the one dog who gave them the most grief in the beginning.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-10-2013, 02:02 PM
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My daughter used the baby gate also so the animals can get to know one another in safety. They can see one another. My dog is old and smaller than the cats so I had to teach the cats to leave him alone. He is no match for them. If they were too aggressive toward him, I sprayed them with water bottle. I fed them at the same time but separately. I pet them a lot together and talked to all of them calmly so they knew they were all my family. I also made sure I watched them when they were in the house together and kept them separated when I went out. It takes time but they will work it out. It would be good if the cat had a high place to watch the dog in safety.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-13-2013, 12:14 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of the help. Today I was in the den with my dog, and Hutch was crying on the other side of the door. The dog was growling and I reprimanded him for doing so until he quieted down. He was quiet for a while and I figured it was a good opportunity to crack open the door and let the two see each other. I opened it so little that the dog's snout didn't even fit through. After a few seconds I his paw emerge and give Charlie a good swat. Charlie responded with a lunge and bark/snarl. I've never seen him act this way.

I put in a baby gate separating one of the cat's rooms and the dog's room, so they can see each other, but Charlie just lunged and snarled after seeing Hutch for a few seconds (he was tethered so he couldn't get too close). I don't know how they'll be able to get used to the sight of each other when Charlie reacts so violently and scares Hutch for a good while.

I think I'm going to start having them in the same room again (with Charlie's attention on high interest treats). That's the only thing that didn't elicit *such* a strong response when we tried it.

*sigh* We have a ways to go.
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