Cat and Dog
Integrations
Managing successful cat and dog integrations,
copyright (c) 2021 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 person-
ality, 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 stressful.  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 chew 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, including your own -
lectures, scolding or any forms of force or any other types of punishment needs to
be avoided.  We are trying to create positive associations with the changes in the
home; punishment creates fear, distrust, interferes with learning and prevents
forming affiliative relationships with all species.

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 extended
staring or fixed gaze is not good.  Lip licking or yawning out of context of eating or
fatigue) 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 some.  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
preparing to mount 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.  Again, 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.  Remember to 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.

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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
Les Chatfield
Frania Shelley-Grielen is AnimalBehaviorist.us
info@animalbehaviorist.us
212-722-2509 / 646-228-7813

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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