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Healthy Dogs

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Introducing A New Dog to Your Cat

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5. Stand up and allow the dog to move to the end of his leash. Continue to speak to him intermittently to be sure he will pay attention to you. If the pet approaches the dog, allow them to sniff noses. Keep the dog’s leash loose so he doesn’t feel that he is restrained. However, be very vigilant because if the dog lunges at the animal, you need to be close enough to pull the dog away before contact is made. If the other pet is so small or fragile, and/or the dog so large or powerful that the dog could kill it or inflict serious damage with one bite, have the dog wear a muzzle when they first meet. While the dog is sniffing the pet, call him to you. If he turns and comes away from the pet, fabulous! If he needs a bit of coaxing, that’s okay--as long as he is able to focus on you once you get his attention. If the dog becomes totally engrossed in the animal and won’t come away, then go back to a previous step and work at that level a bit longer before trying this step again.

6. The final step is to allow the animals to interact more freely. Begin with short periods of time together, especially after the dog has been well exercised. Keep a close eye on the dog. To be absolutely risk-free, muzzle the dog until you are confident that he will not harm the other pet. As you gain more confidence, give the animals more time together. Make sure there are plenty of escape routes and safety refuges for the small pet, such as kitty condos, shelves and areas behind furniture to which the dog cannot reach.

7. We’ve heard numerous anecdotes of dogs who were fine with a small pet until the animals were left alone together. We recommend that you keep the dog crated or otherwise confined away from the other pet during your absences. It is not sufficient to keep the small pet caged and the dog loose. The dog could harass and frighten the pet, or even break into the cage.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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