Ask Inger: How Do I Introduce My NEW Dog To My Cat?

Q:

Hi Inger!

My puppy, Hanni, is a 9-month-old Jack Russell mix, and we’ve had her about 6 weeks now. She has mainly been in in the kitchen since her arrival and we crate her at bedtime. We also have a 4 year old cat, India. India has basically been hibernating upstairs in the bedrooms and only comes downstairs to use the litter box and eat. We’re beginning to introduce Hanni to other parts of the house, and now India is hiding in closets, under beds, etc. My kids and I fear that she’ll remain in isolation forever! We feel badly for India because we don’t want her to feel unloved and replaced. Hanni hasn’t been aggressive with India, just excited and very curious. What do we do? Should we have puppy/kitty dates where we introduce them slowly?

Best regards,

Ellen C.

A:

Dear Ellen,

First of all, great job on beginning crate training! That said, I have a few suggestions for you to try:

1. Hanni’s crate needs to be moved around the house at different times of the day. Use a corral, or exercise pen, to give her an area where she can relax and chill out in different areas of the house and put the crate inside this area so that she can go in and out as she pleases. Make sure you put soft music on and give her water and a chew bone. This way she is being socialized to the different sights, sounds and smells of your daily life in different parts of your house without your cat being in danger.

2. Move Hanni’s crate up to your bedroom at night so that she becomes part of the bedtime ritual. Take her outside on a leash to potty and then back upstairs and into her crate for the night. Routine and structure is essential.

3. India should be allowed to be socialized to Hanni at her own pace. It may take time, but implementing corrals and baby gates in your home allow her to feel safe while your cat and dog can still see and smell each other. These gated areas keep curious and excited Hanni in check, while India has the choice to jump over and visit if she wants to! Don’t force the integration process by having puppy/kitty dates, as this could exacerbate India’s stress and fear.

Good Luck!

Inger