Acclimate a Dog to a Cat

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Introducing new pets to one another can be exciting and stressful. It is important to use caution and take the time to ensure a smooth transition, especially in the case of introducing a dog to a new cat. Acclimating a dog to a cat can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The key is to acclimate them to each other gradually so that neither the dog nor the cat becomes afraid or aggressive. You can ease the acclimation, and keep everyone safe, by following a few simple but very important steps. Consider the following when preparing to acclimate a dog to a cat.


  1. Prepare the dog for the new arrival by giving it items that belong to the cat to sniff and become acquainted with its scent.
  2. Place the cat in a carrier to keep it safe as you acclimate the dog to the cat.
  3. Create a safe, clutter-free environment to introduce the dog to the cat.
  4. Erect a barrier such as a baby gate, allowing them to sniff each other through the barrier.
  5. Keep the dog on a leash when acclimating it to a cat, holding it firmly.
  6. Interrupt any unacceptable behavior by moving the dog away from the cat, and redirecting both animals' attention.
  7. Teach the dog a command like "leave it" or "leave alone" and use it whenever you want the dog to leave the cat alone.
  8. Reward both the dog and cat with treats to reinforce acceptable behavior.
    • Praise the cat when it is gentle around the dog and praise the dog when it is calm around the cat.


  • Set up the cat's litter box, food, water, and toys in a private area away from the dog.
  • Make sure the cat has a room, or other area, where the dog is not allowed.
  • Keep toys readily available. This will allow the dog to be redirected away from the cat, and keep the cat from using the dog's tail as a plaything.
  • Place the cat's food and water on a higher surface like a countertop or a dresser. Height gives a cat a sense of security.
  • If unable to acclimate the dog to the cat in a safe, clear room, make sure the cat can escape if it becomes anxious or frightened.


  • Not all dogs do well with cats. Some hunting breeds such as hounds and terriers may be driven by too strong a prey instinct to coexist safely with cats.
  • Don't react adversely to hissing, barking or growling. Be prepared to intervene, however, if hostilities escalate.
  • Keep the cat's claws trimmed short. A sudden swipe with an open claw can cause pain and an aggressive reaction from the dog.
  • Make sure that the dog and the cat are kept in separate areas while you are away. Even if all seems well in your presence, aggression can become deadly if there is no one to intervene.
  • Never force the acclimation. This will frighten both the dog and the cat and cause them to associate each other with that fear.

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