There’s nothing wrong with being a dogs and cats person and wanting a multi-pet home. There are, however, a few challenges on the way.
You see, even though cats have the instinct to fear dogs, these pets can certainly live together peacefully (with your help, that is).
Here’s the thing:
Cats, in general, are different than dogs. For one, they’re a bit distant, and it takes them time to get used to new places.
Dogs, on the other hand, are social and territorial animals, and chances are that your energetic dog will get overly excited about the new kitten, which can make things extra stressful.
Luckily for everyone involved, you’ll now learn how to get your dog to accept a new cat, the right way.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to introduce a hyper dog to a kitten in 7 easy to follow steps.
How To Introduce A Hyper Dog To A Kitten In 7 Steps
1. Train Your Dog To Listen To You
This is an important step and something you should do with your dog regardless if you bring a cat or not.
Hyperactive dogs are naturally curious, and for the most part, their intention is to play. But depending on your dog size, even that can be dangerous.
Just to be cautious, you shouldn’t leave the kitten and your dog unsupervised, at least not until the kitten is old enough to take care of herself.
Teach your dog basic commands before you decide to bring a kitten home because if you don’t have your dog under control, he may jump on the kitten and scare her at the very least.
Do positive reinforcements when you train a dog or learn how to use an electric collar correctly. Also, If your dog is spayed/neutered, he will probably be less aggressive and less territorial.
If your dog breed is known to be aggressive or bred for the hunt — you should consider whether it’s safe to bring a kitten home.
2. Start When The Kitten Is Young
In general, it’s easier to introduce a kitten to a dog (compared to an adult cat) since she has no inhibitions or past experiences.
If you can, pick the kitten that you find most courageous since she will probably won’t run from your dog and reward his chase instinct.
You should introduce your dog to a kitten once she is around 5-7 weeks because if she doesn’t interact with a dog or a pet at a younger age, she might develop fear towards larger animals.
Also, check if the kitten has already socialized with dogs before as this could make the introduction a lot easier.
3. Make Sure Your Dog Gets His Exercise
When your dog is tired, he’s calmer and doesn’t have too much energy, so it’s less likely that he will nag or chase the kitten.
Socialize your dog only when he’s relaxed and make sure to reward him if everything goes well.
In the first few weeks after you bring the kitten home, take your dog out and do long walks or other high-intensity activities to deplete his energy levels. So by the time your dog gets home, he will be exhausted.
Teaching your dog obedience also count as an exercise, since he’s forced to use his brain and follow instructions, which will tire him even more.
Dog toys for mental stimulation are also a great way to make your dog less obsessed with the new kitten.
4. Put The Kitten In A Separate Room
Find a room that your dog doesn’t sleep in and make it the kitten’s safe space.
Don’t worry, cats actually prefer to be left alone from time to time, but make sure to get a tall cat tree (check out Go Pet Club Cat Tree) to give the kitten something to scratch on and a high place to hide in when needed.
The great thing about having separate rooms, besides giving the kitten privacy and keeping her food and toys separated, is that you have time to reassure your dog while the kitten is in the other room.
Keep Fido out of the litter box. Not only the kitten should feel comfortable doing her business, but some dogs may feast on cat poop which can get your dog sick.
5. Let Your Dog And Kitten Smell Each Other
Before you think about introducing a kitten and a hyper dog, you should give one of your dog’s toys or blankets to the kitten.
Also, take something that the kitten has played with or sleep on and give it to your dog. Once they’ll meet, they won’t be as curious and nervous.
Notice how your dog reacts to the kitten smell, does he become aggressive? Then you need to take things slowly. If your dog seems to be only slightly interested in the scent, that’s usually a good sign.
Feeding your dog and the kitten on opposite sides of the same door is a great way for them to get used to each other smells.
6. Set Up A Date For Your Dog And Kitten
Pick a place that’s free of distractions so that everyone can focus.
Ask someone to hold your dog while you’re keeping you’re kitten close to your chest and let them see and smell one another. If all goes well, make sure to praise your dog to let him know he’s on the right track.
Don’t hold the kitten over your dog’s head, you don’t want to give him the impression it’s a toy.
If you’re alone and your dog is trying to jump on the kitten, block him with your knee to make it clear for him that the kitten belongs to you and isn’t one of his toys.
When both sides are calm, let them be on the floor together for a few minutes. Then, put them back in their separate rooms and repeat the whole thing for a few days, but do longer sessions each day.
I don’t recommend using a leash on a dog to limit contact with the kitten because if you have to pull hard, your dog might get aggressive.
If you have to use a leash, then try to keep it loose and don’t restrain your dog unless he acts aggressively.
You can also use a pet crate to keep your dog and the kitten face to face a small distance. Just don’t put the kitten in her crate while your dog is out and sniffing around as it might scare her.
The AmazonBasics Pet Kennel will fit both cats and dogs.
7. Install A Pet Gate In The Kitten’s Room
A pet gate is a safe way for your kitten to test the water.
Find a gate that has an additional small door for the kitten to pass through while leaving your dog on the other side. That way, the kitten has full control over whether she’s in or out.
With the Carlson Pet Gate, you don’t even need to drill holes. But bear in mind that this process can last for several weeks and up to a few months.
If the kitten is hissing at your dog or trying to run away from him, then she’s not ready yet to face him and you’ll need to continue with the training.
In case your dog is barking or whining at the new kitten, try to redirect his attention to something else. Such as a long-lasting chew treat.
In time, and with your effort, your two companion friends will find a way to get along.