I recently got two dogs from a shelter, and my cats are not used to having them around. How can I get them used to the dogs so they won’t hide?
From the Editors of The Dog Daily
Dogs have an inherent "prey drive" to chase small animals, and unfortunately your cats could fall into that category. In fact, one of the most common reasons why cats run away from home is a new dog in the house, so I'm glad you are taking steps now to avoid that scenario from happening.
Introducing your animals should occur over at least six stages:
1. Place your cats in a "safe" room that your dogs cannot access. This actually should have occurred when you first brought your new dogs home. Your dogs can then become acclimated to their new surroundings without torturing your cats.
2. Permit the dogs and cats to sniff each other through the door. They can communicate identity, intentions and other information through scent alone.
3. Introduce your cats to your dogs, keeping your dogs leashed and well-supervised. Offer treats to both dogs and cats so that each will associate such time spent together with a positive reward.
4. When you allow your dogs and cats to freely roam your house, make sure your cats have a place to retreat to if your dogs are in a particularly frisky or aggressive mood. A high window seat, shelf or gated room, for example, could all provide some cat security.
5. All of your pets should have their own feeding bowls and beds in separate locations. Litter boxes should also be kept away from the dogs' area. This is for the safety of your cats, which are vulnerable when they do their business, and for your dogs, which tend to investigate the box contents.
6. Pet and groom your cats with your dogs present. Your dogs will see that you value these other pack members and should fall in line with their own good behavior.
With proper introductions and training, most dog-cat matches can work. Keep in mind, however, that dogs bred for regular hunting, such as terriers and greyhounds, might be less tolerant of cats than, say, a shih tzu, which has been used as a companion dog for ages.