Introducing a new dog to your current pets

Introducing a new dog to your resident cat

If you have a cat at home you should request that the shelter conduct a dog/cat meet at the shelter with a shelter cat. This information will help you understand what the dog's interest level is with cats. When introducing the dog to the cat, be sure the dog is on leash, allow the cat to choose to stay or leave and do not hold the cat in your arms.

The primary goal for a dog and cat relationship is to teach your dog not to chase the cat. Unfortunately, there are some dogs whose chase instincts are so strong that it is difficult to train them otherwise. Close supervision with the dog on a leash is required until you know for sure that the cat is not in danger.

Do not worry if the cat chooses to hide. Make sure the cat has a private place where she can feel safe and is not accessible to the dog. Ensure the dog does not have access to the cat's food or litter box. You can use a baby gate to block the dog's access. As the dog and cat become more comfortable around each other, they will sort out their relationship.
 

Introducing a new dog to your resident dog

Hopefully your current dog and the newest member of the family met while at the shelter. If their first introduction is away from the shelter, have them meet in a neutral area so that your current dog doesn't feel the need to guard his house and toys from the new dog. Do not let them meet at the threshold of a door or yard. Have both dogs dragging their leashes so if the introduction goes poorly you have a way to safely separate the dogs.

Pick up all the toys that belong to your dog and do not give them back until you are confident that things are going smoothly. Once you are ready to introduce toys make sure you have new toys for the new dog. Start by giving lower value items such as plush toys or balls before progressing to high value items like pig ears or rawhides.

If the size difference between the two dogs is great, pay particular attention that the large dog is not chasing or playing with the small dog too roughly. Never leave a small dog alone with large dogs until you are satisfied that they have a safe relationship.

You should support the inter-animal ranking decided by your pets. Play it cool. Let the dogs determine their roles and positions, and as long as it seems safe, let them have their brief arguments. By interfering we usually make the situation worse. If you are nervous, your pets are more likely to become nervous. Insist on good manners from the beginning. Don't reward any whining, growling or pushy behavior in attempts to gain attention. If you feel you must break up a fight, use a hose or squirt bottle filled with vinegar and water. Never grab or pick up any frightened animal, and never separate fighting animals with your hands.

Plan short periods of play time and treat time, and give attention to each pet separately and together. Serve meals at the same time, but start out feeding them in separate locations. Be patient. The adjustment time takes days and often weeks.

If any interaction seems inappropriate, separate the animals and call 303-442-4030 x368 to speak with a Training and Behavior staff member or e-mail trainingcenter@boulderhumane.org.

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