There’s nothing like a multi-pet home. However, if you already have a hyperactive dog and you’re planning on getting a new kitten, you should at least introduce them first.
Even though cats have the instinct to fear dogs, both pets certainly can learn how to play nice, or at least coexist peacefully.
The first thing you should understand is that felines are different than canines — while both are territorial pets, cats tend to be more introverted, and it takes them time to get used to new places.
Dogs, on the other hand, are highly social animals, which means a high-energy pup can easily make things even more stressful.
Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to make things easier for everyone. In this post, you’ll learn how to introduce a hyper dog to a kitten, or any cat, really.
Introduce a Hyper Dog to a Kitten In 7 Steps
1. Train Your Dog to Listen to You
This is a very important step and something you should do with your dog whether or not you bring home a second pet.
Hyperactive dogs are naturally curious, and for the most part, they just want to play. But depending on your dog’s size, even that can be dangerous.
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, scare, or even hurt her.
Use positive reinforcement when you train your dog, or learn how to use an electric collar correctly. Also, dogs that are spayed/neutered, are normally less aggressive and territorial with other animals.
Just to be cautious, don’t leave your dog and kitten unsupervised, at least not until the cat is old enough to take care of herself.
If your dog’s breed has a tendency to be aggressive or is bred for hunting, you may need to consider whether it’s really safe to bring a kitten home.
2. Start When the Kitten Is Young
Unlike an adult cat, it’s easier to introduce a kitten to a hyper dog, or any dog for that matter, since she won’t have any inhibitions or negative past experiences.
If you can, pick the kitten that you find most courageous as she’ll probably won’t run from your dog and reward his chase instinct.
You should introduce your dog and kitten once she’s around 5-7 weeks old because if she doesn’t interact with a dog or other pet at a younger age she might develop fear toward larger animals.
Also, if you can, 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 a build-up of energy, so it’s less likely that he will nag or chase the kitten out of boredom. Remember to socialize your dog only when he’s relaxed, and make sure to reward him when he does.
In the first few weeks after you bring the kitten home, take your dog out for long walks or other high-intensity activities to wear him out. This way, by the time you get home, he will be ready to unwind.
Training your dog and teaching him obedience also counts as exercise, since he’s forced to use his brain and follow instructions, which will tire him out even more.
Additionally, puzzle toys are a great way to make sure your dog is occupied with something other than 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. You can also get a tall cat tree to give her something to scratch on, as well as a high place to hide in if needed.
The great thing about having separate rooms, aside from giving the kitten privacy and keeping her food and toys separated, is that you have time to calm and comfort your dog while the cat is in the other room.
Also, be sure to keep your pup out of the litter box. Not only should the kitten feel comfortable doing her business, but some dogs may even try to eat cat poop, which can get them sick.
5. Introduce Them with Smell
Before you think about introducing a hyper dog and a kitten in person, give one of your dog’s toys or blankets to the cat. Likewise, take something that the cat has played with or slept on and give it to your dog.
That way, once they meet, they won’t be as curious and nervous, as they’ll know one another’s scent.
Feeding your dog and kitten on opposite sides of the same door is a great way for them to get used to each other smells as well. But notice how your dog reacts to the cat smell.
If he shows any signs of aggression, you need to take things slowly. If instead, he seems to be only slightly interested in the scent, that’s usually a good sign.
6. Set up Their First Meeting
Pick a place that’s free of distractions.
Next, ask someone to hold your dog while you’re keeping the kitten close to your chest. However, it’s important that you don’t hold her over your dog’s head, as this might give him the impression that she’s a toy.
Let them see and smell one another. If your dog is calm, make sure to praise him to let him know he’s on the right track. In case you’re alone and your dog is trying to jump on the kitten, block him with your knee to make it clear that she belongs to you.
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 process for a few days. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time your pets spend together.
By the way, I don’t recommend using a leash on your dog in order to limit contact with the kitten, because if you have to pull hard, your dog might get aggressive.
If you must use a leash, try to keep it loose, and don’t restrain your dog unless it’s necessary.
You can also use a pet crate to keep your pets face to face, but with a barrier.
7. Invest in a Double-Door Pet Gate
This is another safe way for the kitten to test the water. But you need to find a gate that has an additional small door for her to pass through, while your dog stays on the other side. That way, she has full control over whether she’s in or out.
Keep in mind that if your dog can jump high, you’ll need to get a tall pet gate. Also, you might need to keep the gate up for a few months until your pets are fully comfortable with each other.
Sometimes, a simple door strap is all you need to keep your dog on the other side of the door.
In case the kitten is hissing at your dog or trying to run away from him, then she’s not ready yet to face him. In that case, you’ll need to continue with the training.
Similarly, if your dog is barking or whining at the new kitten, try giving him a toy, a dental chew, or even a calming treat, so he can relax and focus on something else.
In time, and with your effort, your two pets are sure to find a way to get along.