Cat and Dog
Integrations
Managing successful cat and dog integrations, (c) 2016-2018 Frania Shelley-
Grielen all rights reserved

How do you introduce a new cat to your dog or a new dog to your cat.  How long does it
take?  How difficult is it?  Does it matter if the dog has cat experience or the cat has dog
experience?  What about what kind of breed the dog is?  Or how old they are?  Or you
may have heard that it’s easier with a puppy or is it a kitten?

The answer to managing successful cat and dog introductions can be found in paying
careful attention to a number of key elements: individual differences, the right
environment for each species, behavior monitoring, behavior modification and time.  
Here’s a closer look on what to consider and some helpful strategies:

Individual differences:  not all cats and dogs are the same and not all past
relationships equal new relationships.  Each pet, cat or dog, has a different personality,
level of socialization and history. While it is definitely helpful to know if a cat has lived
successfully with a dog in the past it is also necessary to realize that that was a unique
relationship where that particular cat lived with that particular dog.   You still want to
help broker the best possible way to integrate a cat and dog that are new to each other.  It
is also worth noting that cats and dogs that have had positive experiences with each
other in the past are more likely to anticipate positive experiences.  And being aware of a
history of negative experiences or no experience means a new situation can be stressful.  
Either way, factor in personality and history always, keeping in mind the canine and
feline perspective please.

The right environment:  the physical space has to be set up so that it is enriched
appropriately for each species, allows for comfortable and safe interactions, exit routes
and refuges.

For dogs this means dog beds or places on the people furniture that belong to them as
resting places.  It also means enough toys, including puzzle toys and chew toys to interact
with independently and with people.  When a dog does not interact with a toy or respond
to play, ask first what other toys or play might the dog like using natural behavior to
inform your choices and try them out, giving enough time and enough dog meaningful
playtime to see results.  For instance, the oral expression of chewing with dogs leads to
prolonged interactions with objects to chew on which engage the dog in natural behavior
and give it a much needed something to do.  Stuffed puzzle feeders such as "Kongs" are
almost a must have for every dog to be fed breakfast or dinner from.  The more a dog has
to do, the less bored, the less behavior issues and the less entertaining the cat as
distraction will be.

In their natural environment cats are arboreal and use trees and other raised areas to
survey their environment, detect prey and to escape from predators which translates to
a necessary refuge from unwanted canine attention or simply feline alone time.  A well
placed cat tower, against a wall and ideally next to a window is a great way to add raised
vertical spaces.  A cat bed on top of a dresser is another nice solution.  Think cat, in
thinking how easily a cat can access a raised resting space.  Exit paths and access routes
should be effortless for the cat the figure out and obtain.  Cats also need cat beds with at
least 3 raised sides to curl up in and a cat bed nested on a cat tower’s enclosed plane is a
welcome addition for any cat.  Think against walls and under chairs for floor beds always
keeping in mind the cat wants the hide as a safe refuge and not a place to be trapped in.  
Cardboard boxes turned on their side can work too and the raised sides often give kitty a
feeling of security, sometimes, even away from a wall.  Seeing what your cat uses,
taking in preferred cat locations and giving a few days to acclimate to a new object will
tell you what they like.  

Puzzle feeders for cats allow for natural behaviors and are huge in preventing boredom.  
In the initial stages of integration, when cats are dog are separated a rolling puzzle feeder
is a good choice.  When cats and dogs are sharing the same spaces use a puzzle feeder that
only the cat can access by placing it on  a raised surface the dog cannot access like a
counter top.

The right kind of music is a definite plus for an enriched environment for both cats and
dogs and can definitely assist in a successful integration process.  A number of studies
have shown positive effects of classical music on a number of species and are especially
effective in shelter environments and group housing situations.  Classical radio stations
are a nice choice to leave on when you are not home (and even when you are).  In
addition to the relaxing tones of the music, the announcer’s voices are calming which
adds to the comfort.  Some good stations to try are 105.9FM in NYC or 90.3FM in  
Westchester and for online choices; Pandora’s “Classical Music for Studying.”   

Both cats and dogs need daily interactive play time with their people.  This is even more
important during an integration process.  Play is a definite stress reducer, releases
beneficial hormones associated with pleasure, is just plain fun and boots relationships
across the human animal bond and creates positive associations with the change in the
environment.

For cats this means working with a fishing wand toy that can be dragged across from or
away from the cat’s line of vision and allowing the cat to follow and pounce on the toy.  
(Avoid laser pointers which can be harmful vision wise and are frustration inducing
with nothing to “catch.”)  For dogs, tug-of-war with a designated toy –nothing else,
please- and/or tennis ball chasing, “find –it” or other fun-for-the-dog games should be
indulged in.  Hand feeding “off and take it” – more on this below- can qualify when done
correctly.

During the initial stages of integration cats and dogs should be physically separated.  
This allows for each species to get used to the new space and inhabitants in the safest and
most comfortable manner.  Remember, you are dealing with two new things to get used
to here:  new environment and new animals.  Dogs are more comforted by access to their
people as opposed to familiarization with territory, so keeping the dog close to humans is
the least stressful for them.  For cats, smaller spaces are easier to adjust to and
comfortable with initially, especially with all the new smells, sounds and sights to
conquer.

This means keeping dogs for that crucial first week or so out of cat spaces during the day.  
Living rooms, offices and watching TV with us after work are ideal.  Installing the cat in
a bedroom along with all necessary cat furniture, toys, litter box and food allows the cat
to familiarize themselves with a new space on a more comfortable scale.  Avoid
bathrooms as an initial space if possible, the more time the cat can spend with humans or
the room we spend most of our time in, the more social support afforded by your presence
and our scent.  The dog should not have day time access to this room for at least the first
week or two.  If there is only one bedroom which the dog customarily shares for
nighttime sleeping, do not disrupt this practice, rather address comfort and safety
through raised, cat accessible resting spaces and sleeping with the dog attached to a leash
attached to you.  This allows cats to feel secure and you to monitor and redirect dog
movement.

Behavior monitoring.  Closely monitor interactions.  Pay attention to what the cat
and dog are “saying.”  Relaxed bodies and lack of intense interest are good signs.  Intense
vigilance for either cat or dog by staring or a fixed gaze is not good.  Lip licking or
yawning for either cat or dog is a stress signal as is looking away.  There is bound to be
stress initially so as long as this does not escalate allow for it.  Keeping dogs on leashes
even when you are at home will both allow for safety and afford opportunities for
alerting us to intention movement through leash tension.

Look at body tension, stiff and rigid are more about defending territory or mounting an
attack.  Vocalizing for dogs or straining at the leash are both signs of frustration and
attention getting.  Hissing, growling, flattened ears with cats and whiskers drawn back
are some of their signs that attention is not welcome or of displeasure with the
environment.  Seeing this means time for redirecting or relocation to a neutral, safe
location. Always keep in mind; it is way more effective to defuse an eminent situation
from happening rather than dealing with one underway.  So redirecting sooner rather
than later is easier and less stressful for everyone involved.

Having a strategy in place beforehand can help with dealing with a volatile encounter.  
For dogs that are not particularly responsive to “off” requests, begin training this now.  
Take the morning or evening and meal and hand feed.  Offer a bite of kibble placed
directly in front of the dog’s nose and say in a soft, calm voice” “Off.”  Your voice will
cause the dog to momentarily pause in going for the food.  In the very same second you
see that pause say “Good Off!” in a happy voice, you will see the same pause.  Next step is
to offer the kibble a bit closer and say “Take it” in a happy voice.  Do not scold or
reprimand in any way if you think the dog is not getting it right.  You most probably
have a timing issue so work on that by you trying to do it better.  If the dog is not
listening at all and going for food you can try starting with giving a piece of kibble to
begin without any requirements and then begin with the “Off” still not listening try an
“uh uh” in a bit of a higher tone but not more than one or two syllables and when you see
that pause to the “uh uh” reward with “Good Off” and “take it (give food)!”  Practice,
practice, practice always remembering it is about YOUR timing so the dog can get it
right.

Human behavior also needs monitoring in a new cat/dog integration.  Remember that
training and interactions need to be positive, consistent and take into account residents
and newcomers.  Always, greet your resident animal when you enter a room or your
home first before the newcomer.  Avoid at all costs punishment, it is not as effective as
positive methods, makes things worse not better and damages relationships.  Think
instead of how you can work on getting the desired behavior through environment and
meaningful direction.  If you have made sure that the cat and dog have safe spaces to
retreat to and can get their easily in an antagonistic situation ask next how can you
facilitate that happening?  After getting attention with the name of your pet can you:
Offer a feather toy to chase after?  Throw a ball to run after?

Behavior modification:  Start with encouraging and praising all the behaviors you do
want, even if they are simple ones.  A sleeping, calm dog can be praised for “good quiet”
or “good sleep.”  Getting in the habit of praise and reinforcement for what we want our
pets to do offers an opportunity to develop more of the good behaviors happening more
frequently because we are rewarding them.  Not to mention, this builds a better human
animal bond.

A dog that is getting ready to chase a cat needs to be redirected before the pursuit begins.  
Always keep it positive.  Think of redirecting as a sequence of a direction such as off or no
and then what you would like the dog to do instead:  “Off Rover”, “Good Off Rover!”, “Go
to your bed/get your ball”, etc. Throwing that ball for your dog to chase is even better in
refocusing the energy.   Similarly, a cat that is getting riled by a dog needs to be
redirected.  For cats, that feathered fishing wand toy is a great lure to change the energy
in this moment and move them away from the dog, not handy?  You can softly say “no”
and if the cat is tractable and can be handled, pick them up and place them in their
raised resting spaces.  Reassure with one or two strokes alongside the muzzle or behind
the ears.    If the cat is not tractable placing an object (not your hands), like a newspaper,
pillow or other object to block the visual stimuli and forward motion between cat and dog
are usually the most effective.  If you must use your body as a barrier it should be the
lower half of your body either from the front or the back.  Separate fighting animals with
loud noises, if that does not work in 3 seconds, water, if that does not work in 3 seconds, a
bath towel or large denim shirt thrown over one animal is usually effective.

Time and consistency:  As much as we would like to sit everyone down and explain
how we all are going to be one happy family we don’t have the words to do that with our
cats and dogs who cannot and do not benefit from them.  What we do have is what we
show them by the spaces and experiences we create for them.  Based on the quality and
safety of these interactions and given time for them to allow for the belief that their
environment is stable they can come to believe in and trust that one big happy family
exists.
Cat igloos in the right spots are a great refuge for kitty
"As much as we would like to sit
everyone down and explain how we
all are going to be one happy family
we don’t have the words to do that
with our cats and dogs who cannot
and do not benefit from them.  What
we do have is what we show them by
the spaces and experiences we create
for them.  Based on the quality and
time for them to allow for the belief
that their environment is stable they
can come to believe in and trust that
that one big happy family exists
."
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
Both dogs and cats need the right environment including beds
Contact me for a consultation
Growing up with each other is another way to form friendships
Make sure to always monitor your animals together
Les Chatfield
Salberiac
Praise good behavior, remember to train what you want and not to punish what you don't
Alko, Thomas & Julliette + Isaac
Frania Shelley-Grielen is AnimalBehaviorist.us
info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

Entire website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
The right strategies and time make the best buddies
Cats and dogs can be successfully integrated with the right approach
Copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
AnimalBehaviorist.us
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"Remember, you are dealing with
two new things to get used to here:  
new environment and new animals.  
Dogs are more comforted by access
to their people as opposed to
familiarization with territory, so
keeping the dog close to humans is
the least stressful for them.  For cats,
smaller spaces are easier to adjust to
and comfortable with initially,
especially with all the new smells,
sounds and sights to conquer."