When introducing a hyper dog to a new kitten, have the dog become familiar with the kitten’s scent by giving the dog one of the kitten’s items. When it’s time for a face-to-face introduction, place the cat in a carrier and leash your dog. Wait until your dog is calm before letting the kitten out. Keep the dog on the leash the whole time in case they get too hyper.
Bringing home a new pet is an exciting, yet overwhelming time.
You and your new pet are both getting to know each other and trying to get used to a new normal. If you dream of getting a new kitten, having an existing dog at home can create a big complication, especially if your dog is high energy and not used to cats.
Hyper dogs can be challenging to introduce to a new kitten, but in the vast majority of cases, careful preparation and a slow introduction can set you on the path to success.
Scrolling through adoption sites looking at photo after photo of cute kittens, you might be tempted to take the plunge immediately.
However, if you have a hyper dog at home, a few weeks of preparation and training before getting a kitten can give you the tools to keep your dog under control.
Training while your dog is calm is much more effective than training when he or she is already agitated by a new arrival.
Make Sure Your Dog Can Sit and Stay
How well trained is your dog? Energetic dogs can be exhausting, tempting their owners to give up on teaching the basics, like sit, stay, and down.
These tools are essential, however, for keeping control of your dog and helping him calm down. Consider grabbing a bag of treats and reviewing or teaching these three basic commands every day for several weeks.
Go over them in different situations, such as at home, on a walk, or at the dog park.
Make Sure Your Dog Knows The Command “Leave it”
Another very useful command to teach your dog in this situation is “leave it”. When he shows an interest in something, say “leave it” and reward him when he moves or looks away. You can probably see how relevant this command might be during the introduction process.
Even loving and gentle dogs can engage in behaviors like lunging, jumping, and growling if they have issues with fear or over-excitement. These behaviors are particularly dangerous to a small, delicate kitten.
Muzzle training can be a great way to make a challenging situation safer. Muzzles traditionally have a stigma; people assume they are cruel or only for violent dogs.
If a muzzle is introduced slowly with lots of positive reinforcement, a dog can be taught to happily wear one, much like a walking harness.
Be sure to buy a humane muzzle that allows your dog plenty of room to move, pant, and even eat or drink. Build positive associations around wearing the muzzle. Don’t force your dog to wear the muzzle if they are frightened or overwhelmed.
Get To Know Your Dog
Try to assess your dog and determine how prepared he is to meet a new family member.
Has your dog shared his space with other pets before? If you got your dog from a shelter, they may have assessed his behavior around other animals; consider reviewing his paperwork. If your dog has no history or a bad history with other pets, think carefully before introducing one and take it slowly.
If your dog doesn’t see many other people or animals, take a few weeks to bring him to parks, dog parks, and other locations with people and animals.
If he gets agitated, gently watch other animals from a distance, giving him lots of treats and praise for remaining calm.
Socializing dogs usually happens when they are puppies. Still, adult dogs with socialization issues can learn to trust their owner and stay calm.
High-energy dogs have the potential to wreak havoc when they get excited. Before bringing home a kitten, make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, both mental and physical.
Long walks, lots of sniffing, and puzzle mats or toys can help. If you can bring his energy level down before meeting the kitten, the new arrival is less likely to be accidentally injured.
Bringing The Kitten Home
It can be pretty frustrating to bring home your new pet and face weeks of hard work to integrate the kitten into your household. Try to remember that you are setting up a lifelong relationship between your pets, so the extra time is worth it.
Most kittens have not learned to fear dogs or puppies, so they don’t know to behave with caution.
Dogs who have not been around cats don’t understand the difference between a kitten and a small rabbit or other animal they love to chase and hunt.
The two animals won’t understand each other’s body language. As you introduce your pets, you teach them how to overcome these problematic instincts and live together peacefully.
This takes time and attention. Never leave a dog and kitten together unattended without following this introduction procedure.
Introducing The Dog and Kitten
When you first bring home your kitten, place it in a completely enclosed room, with everything it needs to comfortably settle in.
Make sure your dog cannot access this room at all. After the kitten seems more comfortable, try feeding your kitten and dog on either side of the same closed door, so they can smell each other.
Repeat this step until your dog can do it calmly. Let your kitten and dog smell items with the other’s scent on them.
For the first face-to-face introduction, place your cat in a secure cat carrier with the door closed. Bring your dog into the room and let him interact with the carrier.
This is where those calming commands like sit, stay, lie down, and leave it come in handy. Give your dog a lot of positive reinforcement and treats for staying calm and listening to you.
If your dog gets overly excited, calmly remove them from the situation. You want to help him settle down without punishing him or giving him negative associations with the kitten.
Once your dog can stay calm around the carrier, put your dog on a leash and have him lie down. Let the cat out of its carrier and let it explore while encouraging your dog to stay relaxed.
As with previous steps, calmly end the practice if things get out of control. Your dog and kitten should be interested in each other, but not fixated—keep an eye out for intense staring, ignoring your commands, and stiff body language.
If your dog is doing well, but your cat is terrified, that is another reason to stop the session and try again later.
Eventually, you should be able to let your dog off his leash in the same room as the kitten.
Do not leave your kitten and dog unattended at all while your kitten is still small, as the chance of accidental injury is very high.
The introduction process can take weeks, depending on your dog. If he is getting overwhelmed, be willing to take breaks for several days before trying again.
Ensuring a Smooth Introduction and Friendship
Animals are complicated, instinct-driven creatures, which can lead to some surprises while trying to introduce them.
To give your pets the best chance of getting along, here are some extra tips that can smooth out the process.
Give Equal Attention
Almost every pet is susceptible to jealousy. Your dog, especially if he was the only pet before, can become depressed, angry, or agitated if you stop paying attention to him or focus too much on your new kitten.
Try to avoid making your dog feel like his life has changed forever by giving him lots of love, attention, treats, and exercise.
Monitor The Kitten
You are probably focusing mostly on your dog’s behavior while introducing the pets, but be sure to monitor the kitten as well.
Make sure he always has an escape route in the room where you are doing the introductions, such as climbing onto a chair.
Try to assess how the cat interacts with the dog. Ideally, the cat will be friendly but willing to warn the dog away or defend himself.
If the kitten is totally passive, you will need to be extra attentive to ensure that the dog learns to give the cat space.
Don’t Tease Your Dog
Remember that dogs operate on their instincts. Never dangle the kitten above the dog’s head, as this signals the dog to recognize a toy.
While holding the cat, do not baby talk to the dog or incite him to play. If the dog jumps up towards the cat, don’t run backward or wave the cat around.
Instead, firmly step towards him while telling him to get down, then remove the kitten from the room.
Also, remember that animals are very situational. Your dog might see the cat as a friend in the house, but when they are in the yard together, his perception might change. Be extremely careful to supervise your pets when they are together in new situations or locations.
Bringing home a new pet can be a scary and exciting time. A mixture of training, slow introductions, and careful attentiveness to their animal instincts can help even a hyper dog accept a new kitten.
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