How to introduce a puppy to your cat, by expert dog trainer Ben Randall

Introducing a dog to a cat can be nerve-wracking, but get it right and the two can get along just fine. Ben Randall explains how.

If you’re a cat owner and have just decided to add a puppy to your family, you might be nervous — and rightly so. Get it wrong, and your new canine friend may end up fearing their feline counterparts for life.

But in most cases, there’s no reason why cats and dogs shouldn’t get along perfectly well, especially if they are introduced to each other while the dog is still a puppy. This week’s reader did exactly the right thing: thought about it ahead of time for help.

“We’ve had a cat for several years, and he’s a lovely, friendly pet,” [writes JS from Surrey], ‘but now we’re getting a Labrador puppy, and friends have warned us we might be in trouble. We’re now really worried that the two won’t get along; how can we make sure they do?

Let’s start with the good news: the cat will be fine. In my experience, they are resilient, assertive and hold their ground well, and are quite unflappable. I’ll never forget going to a client’s house to help them deal with a dog-cat relationship that wasn’t going well, only to find the cat was calmly sitting out of reach of the frantic terrier, doing the stunt strange and annoyed with a paw amid the chaos and barking. It was like watching a pair of siblings wrap up: they just seem to know exactly which buttons to press. And it’s also worth mentioning that there are cats that are a bit wild – their owners know who they are – and will probably never become dog friendly.

But for most friendly, laid-back cats, there’s no reason they shouldn’t get along with your pup perfectly, if not brilliantly. Here’s how.

How to Introduce Your Cat to a New Puppy

1. Don’t start as soon as your pup comes home

Don’t worry about introducing the cat at first – your new pup will already be overwhelmed with new things, so introduce the environment first and start with the basics of week one training, such as the command to leave and how to bring. a dog to sit. You want your pup to be happy and settled before you introduce another new item.

Whatever you do, don’t bring the two animals within sight of each other until they’ve had a chance to meet properly. It’s important, so important that it’s our next step.

2. DO NOT keep animals away while letting them see each other from afar

Whenever a dog sees a cat but can’t get near it, they become frustrated and anxious – and it’s this frustration that can lead to problems down the line.

This is really the number one mistake I see with owners who have a cat and a dog, and many of them keep their two pets separate of course. But if the dog only sees the cat once in a while and vice versa, it creates a huge craving on the part of the dog. If he sits in his crate while the cat walks around as if he owns the place, he only came out when the crate is opened; or if the dog is indoors and able to see the cat wandering around in the great outdoors, the frustration will only build up. I’ve known owners who’ve let this tension build up for weeks – curiosity turns to anxiety, then the one time a door is left open, all hell can break loose! This usually doesn’t go over well for the dog, as cats tend to be quicker, smarter, and more aware when things go wrong. I have known very few dogs capable of defeating a cat in a fight.

3. Make it a quiet, sweet moment and introduce your pup to the cat

The moment your pup sees the cat, he will be incredibly excited and will see him as another puppy to play with. He’ll run to it and be ready to play – and if the cat gets scared and lashes out, it could make the dog fearful of cats for the rest of his life.

You must therefore be completely in control of the situation. Hold the puppy, pet it, talk to it calmly, then bring the cat closer, come closer, sniff and cuddle so that they gently and calmly get used to you on the spot.

Keep him calm, keep him relaxed, and your pup and cat can get along just fine.

3. Once the puppy and cat are introduced, gently let them get to know each other

Normally, once the puppy has been touched and sniffed by the cat, it will be a bit wary but curious. Slowly release the puppy, still keeping calm while petting and talking, and let the two animals get to know each other. Keep it calm and cool for both of them, and it just might be the start of a great relationship.

And even if they don’t, they will still be able to mix successfully for many years to come.

For more detailed advice on Ben Randall’s proven, award-based and positive BG training methods, individual training sessions, residential training or five-star canine boarding at his BGHQ in Herefordshire, phone 01531 670960 or visit www.ledburylodgekennels.co.uk. For a seven-day free trial of the Gundog app, which costs £24.99 per month or £249.99 per year, visit www.gundog.app/trial.


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