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Friday, November 19, 2010

Woof and Meow, Part VIII: Socializing your Cat to a New Dog

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
(c) N.M., reader copyright on file
Roxy Loves
her Kitty
We’re on the downhill stretch now. This process is much easier than the latter. When your cat already owns the home, you’ve got half the game licked. Woof will understand immediately upon his arrival at the door that this is Meow’s house.

But first you must make an important investment in Woof’s education. Take him on a very long walk, arriving at your home with a tired Woof, ready to meet him new pack-family with subdued energy. As you approach the door, be sure to impress on him one additional act of leadership. You should always enter the house before your dog. Leaders go first.They understand this by instinct.

Woof should be taken to a small area of your home where you spend a great deal of your time, often the kitchen and family room area, and preferably not carpeted, if Woof needs house training. 

His crate or bed should be located here, and this area should be easy to secure him in, when you must leave Meow and Woof alone. This will remain Woof’s only area to explore until he demonstrates his respect for you, Meow, and all belongings of the house. In other words, he grows up and behaves like a nice dog. When Woof learns good, reliable bathroom manners, he’ll be given the privilege of exploring other areas of the house, one by one, only by your invitation. This is one way you demonstrate your leadership; you expect it.

Woof will know Meow is present from her scent in the home. He will become curious and desirous of exploring. Do not give in. After a couple of days of long walks, and when calm behavior is evident, bring Meow to sniff Woof from behind. Once again, Woof should be leashed and held by a helper. Woof will get only the scent he can gather from this distance. That’s enough for him to understand his status.

Don’t take any guff about sleeping areas, unless you decide for yourself that Woof should sleep elsewhere. As a well-behaved adult, you may choose to have Woof sleep near your bed or perhaps by a doorway. Moving his crate or bed at that time will be fine, but not until then.

Woof and Meow will be experiencing each other from a distance for quite a while before she will jump the gate or sneak in to get a better look at the new boarder. Observe quietly and determine if Woof needs to be leashed or if the two are ready to get acquainted. They’ll need to do this on their own terms, but with manners. Separate them without scolding if either is upset by the meeting. 

Using a gate will allow Meow to visit Woof whenever she desires, with a quick escape route out, as well. This is the best way to separate the two until they learn to accommodate one another. Often this bond will form without you knowing it is happening, and suddenly you’ll find the two playing or lounging together.

When Xena, my Retriever mix, adopted Patches, our 12 year old Heinz 57 cat, the two were both young. They bonded almost instantly and played tag and hide-n-seek for hours. They hunted lizards on the porch and napped together often. Unfortunately those days were before that of digital cameras in every home, and who knows where the photos are. I guess, for now, they’ll have to remain in the recesses of my memory—two diverse species—living the destiny of being best friends.

I hope you have enjoyed this Woof and Meow series, and mostly that you have learned a little something about helping your own Woof and Meow become happier housemates. I'll put the links to these posts on our Best of All Things Dog Blog page, which you can reach by clicking the link just under our header. These posts have brought brisk traffic here, and I suspect there are many of you who have both cats and dogs in your home.  

Check out the gang’s comments at 5 Minutes for Fido, where Tanner shares the somewhat different experience that he and Oliver had in learning to live with Patches. 

Next week is the big drawing. I'll be giving away World's Best Cat Litter, miscellaneous kitty goodies, and the grand prize--a Litter-Robot to one lucky reader. I have about 100 entries so far, and there's room for more. Check out Woof and Meow, Part II, to learn how you can get in on this drawing.

Next week's post will not only announce the winners of the drawing, but also will include a photo slideshow of Patches journey--from using the new World's Best Cat Litter to learning to love her more private Litter-Robot. Join us next week for the big announcement.

Full disclosure: The Litter-Robot and World's Best Cat Litter described in this series have been donated to All Things Dog Blog for an independent review. I have not been paid to provide my opinion of these products, and the opinion provided is my own.
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