How do I Introduce My new Kitten to My Dog? Your Cats and Dogs CAN Get Along

Updated on December 30, 2015
Sherry Hewins profile image

I grew up with dogs and cats, and I am a long-time animal lover. It is hard for me to keep from bringing home any animal in need.

Cats vs Dogs, Why Would You Choose When You Can Have Both?

Beagle dog with black and white kitten
Beagle dog with black and white kitten | Source

Dogs or Cats?

People often ask, "Are you a dog person or a cat person?" I say, why should I have to choose between them? Dogs and cats both have their special advantages, and I would never want to do without either of these wonderful species of animal in my life.

If you already have cat aggressive dogs, you may think it is not possible to add a cat to your household, but that is not true. Most dogs can be trained to accept a kitten into the family.

How to Introduce Your new Kitten to Your Dog

I have successfully used this simple method to introduce two eight-week old kittens to my four cat-chasing dogs.

Start with Spunky Kittens

I adopted kittens instead of grown cats because I thought they would have a better chance of adapting to the dogs. I got the spunkiest kittens I could find. I know nothing stimulates my dogs to chase more than a cat that runs from them, so I was looking for cats that would stand their ground.

Introduce your Pets Slowly

If your dogs are anything like mine, they will be very excited and interested in the new kitten. When you first bring the kitten home keep it in a safe, quiet place for a few hours. I used a spare bedroom, I left them in the carrier for about an hour, then after they had a chance to relax, I gave them the run of the room.

Give Them Time to Get Used to Each Other

When the kittens seemed to be feeling at home, I brought in the first dog. I went with the most mellow dog first. If you have two people, you can each hold one of the animals. Pet them and get them calm, and let them get used to seeing each other.

If the cat doesn't seem afraid, let them sniff each other. If the animals seem comfortable, let them on the floor together. For this first meeting I kept it short, maybe 5 minutes. Give the kittens a break, then introduce the next dog.

Give Love and Praise

I continued in this manner for a couple of days, keeping the kittens isolated in their room between meetings, and increasing the length of time the animals spent together.

If the kittens seemed afraid, I comforted them, but I didn't have much to worry about there, it was a pretty amusing sight to see this tiny kitten hissing and swatting at my 125 lb Rottweiler, but these cat's didn't back down a bit.

If the dog made any, even slightly aggressive, movement I would give him a stern "No," and pet the kitty to show him, it's my kitty, then pet the dog to reassure him, he's still my dog.

Give the Kittens a Safe Place

When I felt like everyone was pretty comfortable one-on-one, I put up a baby gate over the door to the kitten room and left the door open for short periods of time.

Only when I was there to closely supervise, I allowed the kittens to come out of their room through the gate to visit. This way if they needed to retreat they had a safe place to go. Within a week of bringing my kittens home, the cats and dogs were able to co-exist in the house without a problem.

Monitor them Carefully Until you are Sure

Once the kitties got a little bigger, they found the doggy door. I had always intended them to be indoor-outdoor cats. When the cats started going out in the yard I had to do a little more training with the dogs until they got used to seeing the cats outside.

Be sure to observe the interactions between your cats and dogs carefully until you are sure that the kitties are safe.

Now my cats and dogs are friendly, even affectionate toward one another.

My Dogs and Cats Together

My 4 dogs and 2 cats peacefully coexisting
My 4 dogs and 2 cats peacefully coexisting

© 2012 Sherry Hewins

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Rachel, the dog crate sounds like a pretty good solution for short-term, until you are sure they're OK. I wouldn't want to leave her there all day every day. In general, it would be nice if the kitty has a high spot to retreat to where the dog can't get her.

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      Rachel 5 weeks ago

      I'm getting a kitten in a couple weeks. I have a 4 year old staffie mix who sometimes likes to chase cats when first meeting them. Although if they stand their ground and swat at her she'll be a big baby and come hind behind me. I know how I'm supposed to introduce them. But I'm living in a studio apartment and was wondering if you had any ideas on how to keep them separated while I'm away especially. I do have a big dog crate I could possibly leave the kitten in. But I just want to do this right so the kitten understands my dog won't hurt her and be terrified of her.

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      Sherry Hewins 7 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I would try to comfort and soothe the kitten. Cat's don't really understand reprimands. It would give it a bad association with the dog. Better to reward the kitty if it is calm when the dog is nearby. Then it will begin to associate the dog with good things.

      It sounds like things are going OK as long as neither of the animals tries to hurt the other one. If the kitty swats the dog, then you might have to intervene. For the most part, they will work it out for themselves.

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      Callie 7 weeks ago

      Hi Sherry,

      We have a 3yr terrier who is very laid back/lazy & loves everyone and everything. We adopted a 3month old kitten and the kitten loves human contact but every time our dog even gets close or is in the area to the kitten it hisses & hunches up. Is this normal and should be reprimand the kitten for doing this? Our dog just walks away and looks depressed because the kitten does not want anything to do with him.

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      Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sherry, great article and very good topic of discussion. Maybe I've just been lucky but I've had canine and feline together, numerous times in the past. Some times, I brought the kitten home after my dog & sometimes, the other way around. There was always the initial "Hiss & back hunching" from the cat, but only for a day & then with patience and a little encouragement, they became friends. Any dog of mine has always been the friendlier one, while cats (being CATS) seem to learn to merely tolerate their canine sibling. Only once or twice did I witness my cat and dog actually show affection toward one another. However, I had one lovable cat that always wanted to sleep curled up near the dog.

      Dogs are taking a gamble when they wish to "Play" with a cat. As we all know, it depends on the cat's particular mood at the time. All I know is that it's great entertainment when the cat puts up her dukes and swats at the dog with a one-two punch-get-outta-my-face. !! LOL

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      Sherry Hewins 2 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Aw Larry. I'm so sorry your pets have passed. One of my cats just loves one of the dogs. He follows her around and sleeps where she sleeps.

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      Larry W. Fish 2 months ago

      A great article, I loved it. It brought back a lot of memories. I had a dog, a beagle/lab mix that I loved so much. My granddaughter had a Siamese cat. She had to move and couldn't take the cat with her so my wife and I ended up with a two pet family. My dog and that cat were like sisters, they got along so well from day one, playing, sleeping next to each other. We loved them both. Sorry to say they are both deceased now, but the memories we will have forever.

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      Sherry Hewins 3 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Mary - It is much harder when the cat is grown, and already afraid of dogs. You should definitely still reprimand the dogs any time you see them being aggressive toward the cat. Most dogs want to please you, so showing your displeasure when they misbehave should help. At this point, no matter how nice the dogs are, the cat will probably never get over her fear.

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      Mary Wickison 3 months ago from Brazil

      We have two cat chasing dogs. Although the cat was here first, the dogs are not tolerant of her.

      At one time they had the cat pinned on the ground but luckily she jumped over the wall. Now she creeps in for feeding when she knows they are asleep. They are all outside animals and it is a bad situation here.

      I tell the cat she needs to 'man up', but she just looks at me blankly. I have tied the dogs and taken the cat up to them but the cat is so filled with fear, I can feel it. I see my neighbors with their cats and dogs co-existing so I know it's possible.

      Rehoming here isn't an option, so I guess things will just stay the same. Perhaps as they all age, things will improve.

      If we were to get another kitten, I would definitely use your advice.

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      Michelle 4 months ago

      Sherry, I love this! We have a Rottie who is what my husband calls, a bit spoiled! I don't see it, but I digress.

      This past week, I;ve noticed a stray cat at my work that also seems like he's been a house cat at some point. Our security guard says he's been around for quite a few months. We haven't seen him until just last week. He's super friendly and I've been feeding him breakfast and dinner since last week. Such a love, I just want to take him home! I just don't know how our Rottie (aka. Love Bugg) would do with her. Our neighbors have a cat that I take care of when they go away, and when I come home from feeding him, she's all wiggle bum! Any advice?

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      Sherry Hewins 4 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Roger, I don't think it is necessary to trim your kitten's toenails, and I bet that would be difficult to accomplish.

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      Roger Vanderaa 4 months ago

      i will be introducing a 9 week old kitten to my 2 dogs shih shuz in a couple of days. my major concern is the dogs eyes being scratched. should i trim the cats nails before i introduce them . i live in a small apt.

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      Sherry Hewins 4 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      You need restrain the dogs until they learn not to overwhelm the kitten. The kitten won't usually scratch unless it feels threatened. I have never had a kitten scratch a dog's eye. They usually get the nose. I've never had a kitten cause a dog any serious injury. Good luck with your new kitten. I hope you have an easy transition, and they all learn to get along.

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      Roger Vanderaa 4 months ago

      i am getting a 8week old kitten in a few days. i have 2 shihshu dogs who are very curious about everything. my major concern is the kittens nails scratching at the dogs eyes. please help

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      Sherry Hewins 5 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Sonya - You don't say how long you have been trying to introduce them. Since you have such an old dog, my advice would be to give it a week, to see if the dog gets used to smelling the cat. If that does not work, maybe it would be best to rehome the kitten. You don't want to stress your old dog out in his last years.

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      Sonya 5 months ago

      Hi Sherry - we have a 15 year old dog who is mostly blind, completely deaf, and has very bad arthritis in his back legs so he can't move quickly. He is a sweet dog and very social and completely non-aggressive with all humans and usuallWe found a kitten outside and took him recently. We kept them separated until the kitten was comfortable, but now we are trying to introduce them. But I cannot get the dog to accept the kitten. We have tried a lot of things but the dog just barks uncontrollably and will not calm down no matter what we do. And if he smells the cat anywhere, he will follow the scent and bark and bark and bark.

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      Sherry Hewins 5 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Monica, I think that sounds like a promising start. It's not unusual for a dog to like cat poop. Maybe he's just trying to clean the kitty up. I don't think he's trying to eat the kitty, but he could get carried away and hurt it. You are doing the right thing, just keep exposing them to each other in a supervised way. The cat is still new and exciting right now, but once the dog gets used to having it around it won't be nearly as fascinating.

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      Monica 5 months ago

      Hi, I have a 1 yo outdoor walker coon hound who was in heat when I got her fixed 2 weeks ago. About a week ago we found a little kitten we took in. They were on the screened in porch separated from each other by a baby gate and the cat put in a crate for safety at night or when we weren't around. Whenever the cat would meow or if we were on the cat side cleaning the litter box, or caring for the cat, the dog would get really anxious, try to jump over, whining, very excited. The cat would hiss at her. Today we decided to introduce them, my husband was holding the cat while I was holding the dog. At first the dog would back off olwhen the cat hissed, then she just ignored her for a few minutes. Then the cat relaxed s we were petting her and she was purring and closed her eyes and I was also petting the dog. She was calm and relaxed so we brought the cat closer so the dog could smell her. She started licking the cat, especially the ears and the butt area (the cat had soft atolls and has some poop stuck in her fur. Earlier in the day I gave the dog her treats on the towel the cat had been laying that had a couple poop spots and the dog was going crazy trying to lick those spots, I think she thinks the cats poop is yummy). So the dog kept licking the cat, especially trying to get to her butt which we redirected. Then she was sniffing her ears and nipped at the cars ear twice, at which point we told her no and removed the cat. What does this behavior indicate? Is she loving and caring for the cat or is she trying to eat the cat? I can't get a good read on the situation. When she was trying to eat her poop and. Upping at her ear is the dog treating the kitten (less than 1.5 lbs, very tiny) as a tasty treat? The plan is to eventually have the cat as an outdoor cat with access to the porch. We live out in the country on 8 acres of land with national forest behind our house

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      Sherry Hewins 6 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Kayla - I had 4 dogs that went crazy when they saw a cat, yet they were able to accept kittens into the family. They still go nuts if they see any other cat. Just be patient, and don't trust them too much too soon.

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      Kayla 6 months ago

      Hello we are getting a kitten but we already have two dogs at home that go crazy when they see another dog or a cat

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      Sherry Hewins 6 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jazmine - You should follow your instincts as far as not leaving the two alone unsupervised. The cat is learning to trust, but perhaps the dog is not yet trustworthy. Be sure to let the dog know that you disapprove anytime you see her show any aggression toward the kitten. Your dog's desire to please you is your best tool in this situation. Help her understand that any aggression toward the kitten will make you angry or displeased with her. Any slight growl or standing up of hair should prompt a stern warning from you. As soon as the dog backs off, she should be rewarded with praise.

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      Jazmine 6 months ago

      Hello! I am looking for some advise on how to improve our new kitten and 5yr old dogs relationship. We have had the kitten and few weeks and she has become accustomed to the dog over short meetings continuing to get longer. She doesn't cower or run and will even approach the dog, however our dog is acting somewhat aggressive. She has barked and snipped at the kitten as the kitten was playing and will continue to put herself between us and the kitten. I'm nervous to leave them alone for even a second, any advise?

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 6 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      havanese+kitten+?!?!?!? Not every dog has the temperament to get along with a kitten. However, I have trained a previously cat-aggressive dog to accept a kitten.

      If you are that worried, perhaps you should start out with having them on opposite sides of a fence until they get used to seeing each other.

      Is your dog otherwise well behaved? Does he obey you? If so, you should be able to control him, at least while you are present. Never leave the two of them alone until you are sure you can trust him.

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      havanese+kitten+?!?!?!? 6 months ago

      this sounds great! but, i wouldnt call my dog " aggressive" just he is very domonait and repulses at he sound of getting a kitten. im worried the dog may attack the kitten. If i followed your rules correctly, we should be holding louie-the dog firmly (as well as the kitten) The reason im particularly worried is because of our hampster incedent... every time I wouldbring the hampster out, he would have his heart set on killing it! please, give me some advice!

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      GreenMind 10 months ago from USA

      Hi -- I really liked this -- we had to introduce two new kittens to tow established cats and it was...interesting. We had never heard our cats make those sounds before! Cool idea for a hub and I'm enjoying reading your others.

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      Sherry Hewins 13 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Tori, Do you plan on having the kittens be outdoor cats? Is your dog generally aggressive toward cats? You can follow the same steps as I described for indoor training. Perhaps walk the dog first to help him get out some energy and make him calmer. Then have the meetings in a safe and controllable environment. Have a helper to keep both animals under control. Take your cue from the animals as to how fast to move along. Do not leave them together unsupervised until you are sure it's safe, but the more time they spend together, the sooner they will get used to each other.

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      Tori 13 months ago

      Hello

      I live in a double story house and I have a 1 year old German Shepard who isn't allowed into the house at all. I recently adopted two feral kittens and now that they've gotten comfortable around me and don't hiss and scratch anymore, I would like to introduce them to the dog. We live upstairs and I don't want to contradict the dogs training by bringing him in to get used to the kittens so I would like to know if you have any advice on how to introduce them without them being aggressive. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 15 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I wonder if that kitty was weaned too early. I have seen that behavior in cats before, and it is often a lifelong habit. If the dog is only snapping at the kitty, and not becoming too aggressive, that may discourage the cat's behavior. It will have to be up to you to judge whether it is safe to allow the dog to reprimand the cat. You could try distracting the kitty with a toy, perhaps something soft it might transfer its sucking to.

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      Tina 15 months ago

      This is my first kitten and I am trying to follow your method. My 7 year old poodle appears at times very indifferent about this very hyper kitten. My first main problem was my kitten hates being separated (she came from a house where is lived with dogs so this process was really to get my dog use to a new addition to the household) and she would meow whenever I would separate her to her room. Yet, recently my kitten has been doing; what I can only assume is trying to suckle on my poodle. My dog hates it and will at first gently get up and move but the kitten will just follow her around and keep trying. I try to redirect the kitten, distract her but nothing appears to work. What should I do? I don't want my dog to get aggressive to get the kitten to stop because I don't want her to think she has to be aggressive with her now.

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      Sherry Hewins 17 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Denise, I'm sorry to hear about you kitty. Perhaps the dog just got carried away with the licking and killed the kitten by accident.

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      Denise 17 months ago

      I had a spayed 4 month border collie mix and was given an 8 week old kitten. The dog seemed to like her very much. I came home at lunch to check on them and found the kitten love caked to death, stiff and wet. There was no sign of dog being aggressive. She licked kitten as mother dog would lick a pup. I kept dog gat d in kitchen with her bed while I was at work and kitten in next room with food and litter box. Looks like kitten got over the gate. I found the kitten in dogs bed, wet and stiff. Why would a very friendly dog have licked the kitty to death.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 21 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Have your husband hold one animal while you hold the other. Let them see and sniff one another, but don't allow the kitty to scratch the dog. Give both of them plenty of petting, praise and treats. If you do that for ten minutes, several times a day, they should become more accustomed to one another.

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      Kylean McCallister 21 months ago

      I just got an 11 week old female kitten. She is very playful and friendly with both my husband and myself. However we also have an almost 2 year old border collie/Australian cattle dog mix. He is also very friendly and playful and gets along great with other dogs. He is however scared of almost everything and his only previous exposure to cats was a stray that would his at him and swat at his nose when he got close. The kitten and the dog seem interested in one another and watch each other very closely but if the dog moves too close to the kitten she hisses at him which in turn causes him to run away from her (I'm sure in fear of being swatted like the other cat did). I don't want to have to lock either one of them up in a bedroom but the kitten will really only come out of hiding if the dog is locked up. How can I get the kitten to quit hissing at the dog? He doesn't show any aggression towards her and wants to play but she doesn't seem at all interested in him being anywhere near her.

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      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Regan - good luck with your new addition. I do firmly believe that, with patience, you can make it work.

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      Regan 2 years ago

      im getting a kitten in December and I so want to make it work with my big mutt. I appreciate your advice and photo!!

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      Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I love dachshunds! Good luck with the new family member.

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      william 3 years ago

      i have a long datschund and i will be getting a kitten soon so this will be very helpful. thanks for the advise

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      Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That is wonderful CraftytotheCore - Your pets are lucky to have found you, and I am sure you feel the same about them!

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      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      Awesome! We have a lot in common Sherry! I love the picture of your dogs and cats together. That's what it is supposed to be about! You obviously worked hard for this glory and your pets are certainly loved.

      I have a similar situation where we have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 3 birds, and a pig, all rescued. I grew up on a farm so I've always had a passionate place in my heart for animals. We adopted our border collie from out-of-state. We thought she was a lab. We live up north and labs are expensive and hard to find. Not many last long at shelters. So I had contacted a rescue group about getting her and they have a policy that we had to hire a dog behaviorist to verify that my home was safe considering the other animals we own.

      The dog behaviorist came in and saw the cats laying on the back of the couch while the dogs sat together politely to greet him. He said that he had never been in to a home where all the animals were so friendly to each other and so welcoming to him. It was a really good feeling because I do work very hard at being the best pet owner I possibly can be.

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      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      beautiful and interesting hub. I had never seen dogs get along so well with cats. Most dogs would be chasing after frightened cats and bite their heads off! Amazing skill and techniques you have here. Just beautiful.

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      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      It is possible and big dogs will also go after a puppy. We found that out one time when our son brought over his new lab puppy, our lab went after the puppy. The minute we yelled he stopped, the puppy was ok. I'm always a little leery when bringing a new little one into the house, kitten or puppy.

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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, lucky that kitty survived. It only takes a second for a big dog to kill a little kitten. I've never had anything like that happen, but it's always a possibility.

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      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Our son brought kittens into his house with his labs. They were all doing fine the dogs seem to be ok with the kittens. One day a kitten walked to the black lab's food dish and she bite it in the head. She came close to killing the kitten. They rushed it to the vet and vet said he didn't think it would live but she made it. We ended up with the kitten.

      We have always had cats and dogs and have brought new kittens to the house never any problem so I just couldn't believe his dog did this.

      Voted up.

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      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Ashleigh, Maple may never like the kitten, but you should be able to teach her not to hurt the kitten. I would have the dog spend supervised time with the kitten, without the other dog, in short increments several times a day as I described before. Any time you see her lick her lips, or you think she's eying the cat aggressively, tell her "no" sternly, let her know that she's not allowed to even think about hurting that kitty. As soon as she backs off praise her. Until you feel you can trust her, don't leave the kitty around her unsupervised. Good luck, it sounds like you have your hands full.

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      Ashleigh Gare 4 years ago

      Hi there i hope you can help me , I have two huskys one female 8months and one male 13months we have had our new kitten for about 3weeks now and maple our female isn't warming to the new kitten I'm unsure what to do, the kitten does stand her round but I see this look in maples eyes and she licks her lips too , any advice would be awesome, kind regards

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      Nicky H 5 years ago

      Hi Sherry,

      That's a very helpful article, I have a question though! I have two Staffies, a male and a female and I've been trying to introduce a kitten to them both for the last 3 weeks, using similar tips. My male is oh so ready to play and get on with the kitten, but my female is highly alert and tense around the kitten. We find it very difficult to distract her - she was not even intrested in treats by her nose! She is a very intelligent and stubborn character - which probably does not help! Any ideas on how to distract her, get her to shift her focus? Thanks!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for your comment seanorjohn.Of course part of the secret is to get the cats accustomed to dogs while they are young.It still may be possible with older cats, especially if the dogs are not cat aggressive.Just take it slow and make sure you always have control so nobody gets hurt.

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      seanorjohn 5 years ago

      I always looked after friends dogs in the holidays but had to stop when we got kittens. They were absolutely terrified of dogs. Your hub has encouraged me to try again. Voted up and useful. Wish there was a category very interesting.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I love that story, thank you so much for telling it. I hope you took some photos of that.

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      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      I think your methods make the point that patience is the key-- working it a little bit at a time.

      We have a small 'min-pin-terrier- chihuahua? mix" house dog who is a little excitable when she sees other animals.

      Our hens are starting to get a little aged and we recently got a couple of baby chicks -- but kept them in a cage in the house, because our spring weather has been cold and stormy.

      Our dog was curious and excited, but gradually calmed down and seemed to regard them as her pups-- sleeping by the cage and sticking her nose in to check on them. The chicks became accustomed to her, too-- and didn't hesitate to peck the doggie nose, when they thought she was being too nosey.

      Now that the chicks are half grown and outside in an enclosed area with the older hens-- dog and chicks still come up to the fence to greet each other amicably.

      A gradual, focused and patient approach can make unlikely pairings get along fine. You were wise to get kittens who were not too timid.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Wow, thanks for your insightful comment. You're right it really is just common sense. It is amazing how quickly you can change your dog's behavior with just a little focused effort.

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      pattysue 5 years ago

      Sherry...I LOVE this approach!!! You took time with everyone involved and corrected the dogs in an appropriate manner. I had a client this week with a shy, fearful, protective young dog...and as the dog growled at me and misbehaved his owner offered "Good Girl"..."You're allright"...and "Atta Girl"s to her inappropriate behavior... Guess What? He was positively reenforcing her bad behavior!!! Bless his kind heart...he didn't mean to and he doesn't have a clue to what he was doing. His excuse...he doesn't have the money for trainging classes or the experience to go without them. Suggestion...?!? Most classes are for training the human, not the animal. It is FREE to go to the library and check out books to educate yourself in the absence of personal experience...OR ask someone with common sense and 'pet logic' on how to approach the situation...then be consistent and learn from each other! Well done Sherry!!!

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