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Introduction of new dog to resident cats

2810 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Nora B
As I posted over in the Lounge, I'm getting a dog on Saturday. He's a 2-3 year old rescue mutt and weighs about 15 lbs. He supposedly loves cats, doesn't chase and likes to snuggle with them. He's coming on a transport from KY so he's probably going to be pretty stressed when he gets here (he didn't do well in the shelter at all, so I figure the transport is going to be traumatic). Foster mom says he's well trained and has good manners.

Maggie & Kobi both met a dog once about 6 years ago. It was just a friends dog that they brought along for a day visit. So I just decided to see how they'd react, no process involved just let the cats out of the room they had been confined it and let them find the dog out on the screened porch. It was also a small dog who lived with 2 cats. Kobi was ready to play in about 10 minutes, but the dog wasn't interested. Maggie looked and retreated to the top of the fridge to watch. At one point she came down and the dog came in from the porch and they came around a corner and practically ran into each other. Maggie backed up, gave a small hiss and retreated.

When I introduced Holly (she was 12 weeks) she spent the first two days in the spare bedroom hiding under the bed. Not really a peep out of her. They knew something was up because I kept going in there and of course they smelled her. But they didn't really respond until she started making some noise on day 3. I did treats on each side of the door and scent swapping, they still hadn't seen each other. On day 4 Holly decided she wanted out and started yowling. She was so distressed I knew I had to do something. So I put her in a carrier and brought her downstairs. Maggie retreated on top of the fridge again. Kobi approached the carrier and just looked at her. I have them treats and both ate them. I let the carrier sit there for quite a while, maybe an hour. Kobi stayed right there, looking at me and meowing like "why can't she come out and play?". So finally I let her out. By the next day Kobi was snuggling with her and grooming. Maggie stayed on top of the fridge/cabinets for the next day or two...but coming down to eat, use the litter box etc. She was fine unless Holly got in her personal space, then she'd hiss a little. Holly was very submissive and if Maggie hissed she'd lay down or just move away. It took Maggie quite a while, 4 months, before she stopped warning her off and at about 6 months started playing with her a little.

Holly has never met a dog or a new cat as an adult. She's extremely submissive, definitely low girl on the totem pole. She's a peacemaker and very forgiving of Kobi's antics.

So that's the personalities and previous history. I'm getting 2 crates and a free standing play yard from my neighbor (like this Sure and Secure Surround Playsafe Playard ). I can get gates if I need them. I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this intro. I have lots of space for segregation, but I feel like it would be unfair to keep the cats confined in their own house, yet confining a dog to a crate or play yard in a spare bedroom for hours doesn't seem right either.

Given the personalities and size of the dog....thoughts on how to go about this? Would you consider just crating him, but in a spot where he can be part of the "pack" and the cats can have access to approach (or not)? Maybe put the crate in the play yard, so there's a perimeter?
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I responded to your other thread a little late and after missing page 2 - sorry bout that - but am actually making similar preparations myself and this will be our second small dog. The hardest part in my personal experience is that most places cats normally go to get away from 'regular' dogs, don't work with little dogs. I count little dogs as any dog who is about the same size as the cat and can get to the places they usually go for escape fairly easily - especially the unders - under the sofa, under the bed, etc.

The other thing that shocked the living daylights out of me with our other little dog was how high she could jump. She was a 9 pound bichon who could jump over a 3 foot gate with ease, and fought her way over a four foot gate more easily than the people could - so gating didn't work for us. Many a standard cat condo was fair game as far as she was concerned as well and given enough room she could run then leap to the higher levels - it made creating escape areas for cats challenging.

All of that was with a misbehaved puppy of 18 months - you have already made a much better choice but some of the things I learned may help. If the dog doesn't have room to get a bit of a run going it cannot usually leap as high as a cat, wall shelves stairs - I used the inexpensive wall ledges from Target in two packs, makes a great walkway for cats that a dog cannot usually manage to access - or if it does, slight furniture movement cuts of access, however you do it give the cats room to hide high.
If your dog cannot leap a gate at least one dog free room is a good thing for everybody. Especially your timid under the bed hider...my heart kitty is one of those and she and the dog eventually became besties but I think that was because the dog wanted to be friends with everybody and the other kitties were knocking her down the totem pole so to speak - but it took about 5 months before she lost enough fear to mutually cuddle the dog and share a warm spot without a person around.
I'm sure you are are already planing on a well visit for your new addition but despite the added stress I cannot push hard enough for a trip to the groomer before intros to the cats and an 'anal sack expression' if at all needed in my personal experience nothing smooths over new intros better than everyone not reeking of where they have been and what they have been up to. Now for your kitties to smell like your home is a fine & fair choice, but foster dog has been through the ringer in all his places and will reek of it, plus dogs often act all proud and happy after after a bath, so it may not even be a negative for him....I just remembered you work ' in the business' you'll figure what you want - just my 2 cents - my cats are always sensitive to 'dog stink'.

One Last on the med side - you may want to double check on the monthly plan your new guy has been on - be sure he doesn't need to be dewormed prior to intros....I hate having to deworm everybody so I tend to overemphasize the 'new guy' every time.....

The last part may be the hardest, it was for me - finding a way to balance needs and carve out space for the dog to feel a sense of belonging too - I thought I had that down pat until the day I told the dog to 'go to bed' - in her crate, she didn't listen and I looked in to find the top cat had taken over the dog crate - flip side, for me it was a sign the crate was no longer a needed tool and dog spent her days on a people bed ever after and roaming too.


I don't even know if I've helped but maybe given something you hadn't thought of, congrats on your new addition. I am looking forward to updates, our new guy comes home in July and I'm excited. The last year without a dog in the house has been easier and too quiet all at the same time.

here's too 'mixed' households - LOL.
N
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I just put my cats and dog together (this was a long time ago). There was a little hissing but never any scratching or fighting. After a few weeks they were enteracting quite nicely. Hope all goes weel for yours. Cant wait to see more pics of him. :)
Thanks Nora...very helpful. I really hope this dog can't get up on the cat tree. I have a 6 ft. one so with a little luck, even if he can get to the first level, the 3rd level should be out of his range. I don't think gating is an option for me either...I think 15 year old Maggie would have a tough time going over, she'll jump up on a kitchen counter from the floor if she has to, but will choose using a bar stool as a stepping stone if given the choice. I put her on a joint supplement a few weeks ago and it does seem to be helping.

I was already thinking that we may be going straight from the transport to the self wash place in town. I'm assuming that he may have an accident on the trip. And then my neighbor mentioned that her dog came off the transport infested with fleas. He's on Frontline but it doesn't kill instantaneously, so I figure he'll probably be carrying some. I hadn't thought about washing off the stink of all the places he's been, but that's a great point...he's been in a house with at least 9 other dogs and some cats. So I will definitely add the stop at the self wash place. He'll be thrilled with me...

What did you do when you first brought the dog into the house? Were the cats in a separate room? Did you have her is some sort of enclosure or crate (I have a cat carrier that the dog will fit in)? Did you completely keep them from seeing each other for a while? Basically how did you manage the first few days?
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I just put my cats and dog together (this was a long time ago). There was a little hissing but never any scratching or fighting. After a few weeks they were enteracting quite nicely. Hope all goes weel for yours. Cant wait to see more pics of him. :)
I'm too much of a control freak to just let them work it out...wish I could be that way...
I'd lock the cats up and let the dog explore and relax a little bit. THEN I'd put the dog in a crate and let the cats in to check him out and get his scent. That will allow you to gauge how everyone will respond. See if anyone hisses at him or seems frightened (or if he seems to get over excited and yappy).

IF all seems ok and like everyone can handle it I would confine him to one room with a gate. That way the cats can investigate at their leisure but make a great escape over the gate if they feel the need. I'd probably keep him in one room for the first few days ANYWAY just to confirm house training and learn his potty request signals before letting him have run of the house.

This is how mom always introduced new dogs/puppies/dogs in for training with our indoor/outdoor farm cat. It was mostly for the dog's protection, not Lucy. If she felt they were at all threatening she would attack full force.
I'd lock the cats up and let the dog explore and relax a little bit. THEN I'd put the dog in a crate and let the cats in to check him out and get his scent. That will allow you to gauge how everyone will respond. See if anyone hisses at him or seems frightened (or if he seems to get over excited and yappy).

IF all seems ok and like everyone can handle it I would confine him to one room with a gate. That way the cats can investigate at their leisure but make a great escape over the gate if they feel the need. I'd probably keep him in one room for the first few days ANYWAY just to confirm house training and learn his potty request signals before letting him have run of the house.
This concept has a lot of merit! and I will be incorporating parts for our new dog.

With our old dog intro's were a little different - she was a puppy and smaller, plus we were crate training. I grew up crate training all dogs, large or small, to an extent even the cats are nearly 'crate trained' - they won't 'go to bed by verbal command like the dogs always have but if I open the cat carrier and call here kitty kitty then a name they will come and walk in the door if I hold it open - well 2 of 3 but the 3rd is a brat and an interloper - the foster that never left, LOL.

Anyway - back on topic - one cat at a time, I think you are really in tune with your cats and you can easily pick the one most likely to tolerate dog and respond most positively to an initial meeting - gives one cat the smell to carry back to the others and the dog a chance to meet one on a positive note. The hardest part will be if all of your kitties sleep in your room and you are planning to have dog do the same. - This was one place I thought Mow Mow's advice was really spot on with an older dog, it is hard to figure out how long a dog can make it without a potty break and running loose with 3 cats all in the bedroom could spell disaster initially. At the same time the 'new guy' is usually the most in need of reassurance that first night. with the puppy she spent most of her first year the same way every night: in her safety harnes clipped to a 6 foot lead attached to her crated next to the bed. This gave her the option of sleeping in her crate or with me in my room or my son in his. Despite her good behavior during the day she could tear things up like nobody's business at night and couldn't be trusted to go freely (if I were better at pet proofing or housekeeping maybe it wouldn't have been an issue?)

I wish I could give better concrete advice but I think you will know more once you meet him and do a trial intro with the most likely to be amiable cat. If thay doesn't go easily I would take it slow....have you had dogs/a dog before? Done any of the training course type stuff & so on? it is a different way of thinking.....
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Thanks, you've both been a great help. No, I've never had a dog before...even as a kid. I've been around them a lot, but after 26 years of having cats, thinking like a dog doesn't come naturally. I will be taking him to training classes...probably more for me than for him :lol:.

I asked the foster mom (FM) about potty signals and she said she just has him on a schedule...first thing in the morning, noonish, 5-6pm and 10pm. So he goes all night without an issue and she said he hasn't had an accident in the 2 months he's been with her.

All the cats generally do sleep in the bedroom...sometimes on the bed, sometimes in the cat beds on the floor. I'm planning to keep him in a crate in the bedroom at first. FM says he loves his crate, so hopefully he won't cry all night. Once the cats and me are comfortable...he'll have free roam. FM also says he doesn't chew furniture or shoes etc. FM basically says he's perfect...of course I'm skeptical, hopefully she's right.

Based on what you guys have said, I think I have a plan in mind for his first couple days and I'll adjust as I see how things go.
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I've always found that unless the dog (or cat...) has some sort of worrisome behavior prior to introduction or is a larger dog/prey driven dog then there's not a lot to worry about... there might be a little chasing, hissing, swatting, but all in all they get along and the dog learns to avoid the cats and their claws, or they become pretty good friends. Unlike throwing two cats together, something I've never had a good experience with to date...

When we first introduced Coco to the house at 9 weeks she chased Blacky a few times. Not the best way to start an introduction. Since Blacky always seemed to be outside when Coco saw her she may not have connected Blacky to being part of the pack. After a few weeks of sharing a bed together and general mingling they got along a lot better. I was wary of Coco getting too close to Blacky, especially in the night, and watched them carefully in their interactions the first few months. Fast forward, and they're pretty good friends. Coco is always nosing at Blacky - never chasing her, Blacky isn't afraid of her any longer - and Blacky is always putting up with it, and sometimes giving her meows and headbutts in return. They're actually the two animals get along the best in this house. Meanwhile, Blaze - the cat afraid of any human stranger and no contact with dogs until he was about 10 - has got along with the every dog he's met on sight, he puts up with a lot of hassling until the claws come out. However, both of my cats hate other cats.

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Looks like it went well for you Carmel. I'm feeling more confident after the responses. We'll find out in the next couple days...he's on the road and I pick him up tomorrow around 7:30-8am. The transport people just called a few minutes ago and they're running on time so far...
Hey Doodlebug......

As one 'control freak' to another (btw I try to be kind to myself and reframe it as 'preparing for all possible scenarios in order to ensure everyone's safety and provide for the most positive out come, while simultaneously allowing for individual expression and meeting the needs of each personality type and issue' but 'control freak' is far more concise)

I would be greatful for info and unpdates when you are ready on what works for you and what doesn't as I haven't done intros with an adult small dog before and this July will be my first - bigger dogs were easy, it was pretty much always the dogs fault - LOL jk. But first hand info from your experiences both good and bad would be helpful if you find the time...
N
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