Are your dogs now the most popular hounds on the block because of their excellent friend making etiquette? Now that you are the expert on dog to dog introductions, let’s branch out our education to making acquaintances with individuals of other species!
Dog to cat (or chicken or goat or sheep or horse)
Introducing a dog to another animal, such as a cat (feel free to insert chicken or whatever species you are introducing in place of cat here) is basically the same idea as dog to dog, only you don’t put the cat on a leash (which I find a little discriminating in the dog world, I mean, why do we always have to be the ones restrained?). Also, this interaction does not have to take place on neutral territory, it can be in the home or backyard.
The principle is the same as dog to dog however; reward us for ignoring and displaying good behavior. Allow the cat to freely move about the new dog, approach, sniff, or simply ignore if she chooses – all along rewarding the dog for ignoring. Sometimes the sight and smell of feathers and fur can make us crazed. Hey, no judgment! I have seen my owner get that same look in her eyes when staring at a big piece of red velvet cake! Anyway, if we don’t ignore, ask for a sit and wait until we calm down.
Do this process until you feel comfortable that the dog has shown good self-restraint (depending on your particular pup this could be several minutes, hours, or small repeated exposures over several days). Try not to get ahead of yourself, if you unclick that leash too early and the dog chases, you could traumatize the other animal, making future introductions very difficult. So only once a good period of self-restraint has been demonstrated, consider removing the leash, again all along rewarding even when we are off the leash. If we regress and chase (which is so easy to do since they are like moving play toys at first) put the leash back on and begin again. Generally, we are smart creatures, and we will begin to recognize: ignore, no chase = treat and happy owner. Or chase and act like a crazy dog = no reward, put back on leash, and unhappy owner.
My owner, bless her, she tried. She and I went through all these steps and I behaved myself, well the FIRST time I met our cackling hens. Unfortunately for her, the next day the glaring sun must have blinded her brain because she assumed I remembered everything from our previous day lessons – wrong! Quick as grease lightening, I ran after those oblivious hens – and poof, back at step one we ended up. So a canine word of advice, for best results you may wish to repeat your introductions over a number of days. Sadly, those hens did avoid me like the plague for about 2 weeks. My personal proof that making friends is hard to do!