Dogs who haven’t been raised with cats usually see them not as friends, but as prey. Cats who are unfamiliar with dogs are usually afraid of them. The best chance dogs and cats have of learning to be friendly with each other is if they are raised with or socialized to them before 4 months of age.

If your dog and cat are having trouble getting along, your dog is probably chasing or threatening your cat. If your cat runs away, this usually excites your dog even more. It’s uncommon to have a cat who can successfully intimidate a dog, but it does happen.

When introducing cats and dogs, the first priority is to ensure the cat’s safety. The picture on this page shows an example of the WRONG way to introduce a dog and cat to one another.  While cats may scratch dogs, they usually don’t kill them, but dogs can, and have, killed cats.

Many problems can be prevented with proper introductions that are done very gradually. Never put a dog and cat together and let them “work it out.” Instead, keep your dog and cat separated except when you are working on the steps in the introduction process.

It’s important to monitor both pets’ quality of life. It’s not OK for your cat to be in danger, or too afraid to come out of the basement or the bedroom for fear of being harassed or harmed by the dog. Your dog should not be constantly on edge, trying to find the cat.

These situations call for carefully managed introduction or re-introduction programs, and providing your cat safe house time, with your dog confined or outside in a safe yard.  Enroll in our online course The Peaceable Kingdom to learn how to introduce the two successfully.