How to Adopt a Dog if You Already Have a Cat

Pet parents are often open to the idea of having more than one animal roaming their house. It's not unusual for dog owners to suddenly decide to adopt a cat, but what's even more common is adopting a canine when you already have a feline in your house. So let's talk about how to adopt a dog if you already have a cat and do so in a proper way.

In most cases, dogs and cats can live together in peace, but getting there takes plenty of patience and lots of planning. Finding a way of how to adopt a dog if you already have a cat really isn't that difficult, but there are a few tricks that will make the new pet adoption process easier for everyone in your home.

Obviously, safety of both animals needs to be the main priority when introducing a dog and cat to each other for the very first time. Even if the dog is a puppy or a smaller breed, they can still hurt or even kill a cat very quickly. Occasionally, the opposite can be true.

How to Adopt a Dog if You Already Have a Cat

Adopting a cat when you already have a dog

Planning is important

Introducing one animal to another should never be taken lightly, especially with dogs and cats. Even before moving forward with this decision, cat owners need to have a plan of action on how they're going to make the introduction and have both animals live together for an unforeseeable future.

Cats are very different from dogs. Once your feline feels comfortable and thinks of your house as her own, she will begin to feel threatened if another animal comes in to join the family.

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You will need to have a solid plan in place before you bring your new dog home. Whether they are a puppy or an adult dog, there are certain things you can to do make the adjustment easier for both animals.

Separate them at first. Each animal should have their own space in the beginning. Before you know it, both of your pets will be sharing a dog bed or your couch, but at first they each need their own safe place.

Each animal also needs to feel like a loved member of the family. Try to attend to both of them equally and not negate your cat as soon as you adopt a young puppy that will naturally entertain you more.

Don't punish your pets. When trying to figure out how to adopt a dog if you already have a cat, remember that you should not discipline your pets for not getting along. That can make them feel as if the other animal is welcome in the family and they are not.

Instead, reinforce the good behavior when both pets do get along and eventually your house animals will realize that you are pleased with both of them when they are nice to each other. It works the same way as any other dog training technique.

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Here are some things to consider when bringing a dog into a house with a cat:

  • Even if it’s just the top of a bookshelf, your cat should have a safe space in every room where she can get away from the dog.
  • Your cat’s food and water should be placed where the dog cannot reach it. Many animals become aggressive if they think another animal is trying to get their food.
  • Your cat’s litter box also needs to be placed where the dog can’t get it. If the cat is ambushed while she is in her litter box, she may not feel comfortable going back in and could begin relieving herself in other areas of the house.
  • If possible, bring something that your cat sleeps on like a small cat bed or her favorite blanket to the dog before he comes home. Do the same for the cat. This way they can get used to each other’s smell before they are even introduced.

Before you proceed with training your cat and dog to get along, it's very helpful to have some basic grasp of both of these animals' mentality and pet training essentials. This especially applies to dog training techniques as you want to be in control of your dog when introducing him to a cat. Here are some great articles that you'll find helpful:

Dog and cats living together in home as pets

Introducing your new puppy to your resident cat

Before you bring the dog into the house, be sure to let him exercise for a good length of time so he does not have a bunch of pent up energy that will explode when he sees the cat.

Here's a possible scenario for those bringing a new dog into a house with a cat:

1. You should put your cat in a safe place for about 30 minutes to give the dog ample time to roam the house. This will also allow your new dog time to smell the cat without seeing it.

2. Once the dog seems to have settled a little and isn’t sniffing quite as much, take him outside for a walk and let the cat come out and smell where the dog has been.

3. Now it’s time to introduce the two face to face. This is where learning how to adopt a dog if you already have a cat can become a little tricky. The first thing you'll need to do is put your dog on a short leash. This will allow you to make a fast correction if he tries to chase the cat or jump on it.

4. If your cat is skittish, you should put it in a cat carrier for the initial meeting so it can’t run away; otherwise feel free to let it walk around. Your cat’s first reaction will likely be to hiss and scratch, but that’s completely normal.

5. Let the two sniff each other and talk to them in calm soothing voices. Repeat this process multiple times until your dog is able to sniff the cat without chasing it and the cat stops hissing.

Remember that both animals will sense your nervousness and anxiety. If you are really nervous it may be best to have someone else in your family do the initial introductions. You need to be firm with your actions so that both pets trust your decision making.

How to adopt a puppy when you have a cat in houseOnce your dog and cat can get along while the dog is leashed it is time to let him loose.

However, be very cautious and don’t leave the animals alone together until you are completely sure that they are comfortable with each other. It would be best to supervise them continuously while they are together for at least the first few days, and preferably a week.

If the introductions don’t go smoothly, and you can’t seem to get your pets to cooperate, you can seek the help of a professional animal trainer, but this outcome would be highly unlikely. As long as you don't force the two together, and you provide ample time for them to get used to each other before turning them loose, you shouldn't have any trouble.

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Dogs and cats can be great friends. Before you know it, the two will probably be sharing the same water dish, snuggling together while they sleep, and maybe even playing together. Here's video proof: