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 this 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 stress-
ful.  Either way, factor in personality and history always, keeping in mind the
canine and feline perspective.

The right environment:  the physical space has to be set up so that it is
enriched appropriately for both cats and dogs, allows for comfortable and safe
interactions, exit routes and refuges.  For dogs this means dog beds or places on
the people furniture to be used 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 a 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 three
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 beds
placed on the floor, always keeping in mind the cat wants the hide as a safe
refuge and not a place to be trapped in.  The best cat beds can come in the mail,
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 105.9 FM 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 boosts 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 places and times when this can happen.  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 (such as cat shelves and towers) 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 out of context of eating or sleeping) 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 piece 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 for a while and then begin with the “Off” request.  
Still, no response?  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 kibble)!”  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 most senior 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 using 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 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."


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