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    6 Tips for Introducing Your New Kitten to the Dog

    Authored by Jodi Helmer

    Your kids love the new kitten and can’t wait to make her part of the family. Avoid the temptation to bring her home, put her down in the middle of the living room and introduce her to her much bigger, slightly stinky, drooling older dog brother. Proper introductions are essential.

    Cats and dogs can get along but it takes time. Your kitten has just left her litter and your dog is sure he’s king of his domain so there may not be an immediate love connection.

    To increase the odds your four-legged friends will grow to love—or at least tolerate—each other, follow these steps to make introductions:

    Keep them separate: Yes, the first rule of introducing a kitten to a dog is to not introduce them at all. Your kitten should be kept in a separate room (with the door closed) so she has time to get used to her new home.

    Encourage your dog to sniff around outside the door to let him know that there’s a new fur kid in town. Even though the animals can’t see each other, your kitten and dog will get to know each other through their scents and sounds. It’s an important first step in introducing your pets.

    Switch it up: After your kitten has had a few days to settle into her new room, give her some time to explore the house; put the dog in “her “room with the door closed. Swapping spaces allows the animals to get used to each other scents before their first interaction.

    Say hello: It’s time to let your pets get their first glimpse of each other at a distance. It’s important to know your dog: Some will get excited about a kitten playmate but others may feel jealous that a tiny creature is getting a lot of attention.

    To keep both animals safe, they should be separated by a strong barrier like a well-secured gate during their first hello. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog on a leash as an extra precaution. Your pets should be able to see each other but not interact. Keep sessions short and remove the animals at the first signs of stress.

    Scheduled supervised visits: After a few weeks of being able to smell, hear and see each other, it’s time for a supervised visit.

    Before introducing your pets, make sure your kitten has lots of space to climb or hide if she needs some alone time. Start with your leashed dog in a “sit” or “down” position and offer treats and positive reinforcement when the kitten comes into the room. Give them some time to interact but keep a watchful eye and be prepared to intervene if either animal is stressed or acts out.

    Provide both pets with lots of positive reinforcement, including praise, pets and favorite toys to show them that good things happen when they’re in the same room. Never force an interaction; your pets should be able to interact at their own pace.

    Pay attention: Watch for signs of stress or aggression when your kitten and dog are together. If your dog is panting, pacing, licking his lips and whining, the kitten may cause him to feel stressed. Growling, showing his teeth, snapping her all warning signs that your dog may act aggressively towards the new addition. If this happens, cut the visit short. Your cat will hiss, growl, puff up or hide if she’s feeling stressed or anxious.

    Ideally, your kitten and dog will notice each other but not fixate and alternate periods of interest in each other and doing their own thing.

    Get help: Introducing kittens and dogs takes time and patience. Some kittens and dogs become best friends and others will happily ignore each other for their entire lives.

    Even if things go well during the introduction phase, you’ll need to supervise their interactions until your kitten is full grown. Sometimes introductions can be challenging. If you were kitten and dog are not getting along or acting aggressively toward each other, call a trainer for professional help.

     

    Focusing on slow introductions, positive reinforcement and letting your kitten and dog develop a relationship (or choose to be roommates but not friends), the more likely you’ll create a harmonious home for both pets.