Introducing your cat & dog to each other!
First it is really important that the dog and cat are introduced slowly and positively to limit any distress or excitement. This process can be done if your dog does already chase the cat- whether you are introducing for the first time, or trying to stop the dog chasing the cat, it is very important you do NOT allow the dog to EVER chase the cat- prevention is key in changing behaviour. A game of chase is rewarding for the dog and terrifying for the cat. When you are not able to supervise and control the situation- the dog and cat must be separated.
First it is important to introduce the dog and cat to each other’s scent without the sight/ noise of each other so the scent becomes familiar and does not lead to excitement or distress.
First, wipe around your cat’s face with a clean, unused cloth to capture their scent and put this cloth in with your dog.
Next, wipe around your dog’s flank and underarms with a clean, unused cloth to capture their scent and put this cloth in with your cat.
This way each animal has an opportunity to interact with the scent at their own pace. I would recommend you do this for a couple days until both of them are comfortable with each other’s scent and then move on to sight introductions.
Now that you dog and cat can smell each other’s scent with no reaction you can begin with sight introductions. Make sure you have two adults (one with the cat and one with the dog) to help.
First start with a clear barrier such as a patio door, so the cat and dog can see each other but noises are reduced and they cannot smell each other. Make sure both the cat and dog are not reacting to one another- you may need to increase the distance between them. Then you can treat them for a calm look at the other and play with them so they are in each other’s presence but not bothered about each other.
Practice several times, and once they are happy being in each other’s company without chasing/ stress, then you can move on to using a mesh barrier such as a baby gate/ dog gate. This allows them to being able to smell each other and see each other. It is important to use a barrier to help the cat feel more secure and stop the dog chasing if the cat is too exciting. You would need to repeat the same process than you did with the clear barrier (treating them for calm desirable behaviour).
Then once you have practiced this stage several times successfully, you can move on to removing the barrier- however I would recommend the dog to be on a long line so you can prevent any chasing. Remember distance is your friend so slowly decrease the distance as long as both animals are happy and under threshold. You are still treating for calm behaviour. This stage can be very lengthy but if you stick with it and not allow the dog to chase the cat- the cat will be less stressed and the dog will eventually understand that looking at the cat and remaining calm is a better choice than chasing the cat around the house. Eventually you will be able to take the dog off the long line around the cat once you are very confident that no chasing will occur.
If you are having difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information and advice.
Behavioural consultations can be offered to help you with this issue with a veterinary referral.