Introducing a new Akita member to the household
- by Jodi Marcus, Akita Rescue Mid-Atlantic Coast, inc.
Introducing a dog to
resident cats is a little different. Bring the dog in on leash and watch
the cats' reactions to the dog, and vice versa. If the cats don't feel
threatened or appear defensive, and the dog isn't straining on the leash
to get to the cats, it will probably work out. In my experience, puppies
always chase cats. It is a puppy thing. Yes, they can be stopped and
disciplined, but it usually takes a while for it to sink in. If they catch
the kitty, they usually don't do damage unless the cats hurts them. Then
all bets are off. Most dogs will be interested in the cats, but not go
into the predatory mode…ears forward, tail curled up tight, head,
shoulders, back in a straight line, stalking. If they show this type of
behavior, it may not work, or the cats and dogs will have to be kept
separate. Now it has been established that the dog is not predatory, and
the cats feel okay around him, introductions begin. I crate the dog when I
am not home, and when I am home, keep the dog on a leash that is attached
to my waist. This allows some reaction time, and limits how far he can go
if he decides to chase kitties. Another method is to put up a cheap wooden
screen door in front of one room, leaving the regular door open. This
arrangement allows the dog and cats to sniff and see each other, but with
a safety barrier. Make sure the regular door is closed and keep them
separate when unsupervised or if no one is home. Keep a very close watch
on them until it is obvious they are comfortable together.
requires a totally different technique. Kittens are very small and with
their quick movements, VERY reminiscent of prey. They cannot climb, claw
or escape from the dogs as quickly an adult cat can because they are young
and not fully developed. When bringing in a kitten, I put her in a
separate room initially. Once she becomes acclimated to the environment
and learns to trust me, I hold the kitten and let the dog sniff at her. If
I have a very nice, calm dog whom I know likes cats, I will let him lay on
the bed, with the kitten loose, giving the kitten time to approach the dog
at her own pace. When the kitten reaches four months, I will put her in a
crate, with a litter box, food and a towel. The crate is in a high traffic
area, so the kitten can become accustomed to the sounds, smells and sights
of the house. (I recommend a 700 Vari-kennel type crate…kittens can slip
through the wire ones.) It is better to do this, under supervision so the
dog(s) cannot terrorize the kitten by pawing at the crate and moving it
around. If on one is home to monitor the animals, keep the kitten in a
separate room. I do not feel comfortable letting the kitten run loose in
the house until they are at least 8 months-1 year and able to escape or
defend themselves if necessary.
The steps I have outlined are time consuming and quite often troublesome. But a good introduction sets the stage for the future relationship. Bad beginnings can make enemies for life. The time and effort to start things off right are well rewarded when you have two dogs, or a dog and a cat, living together happily and peacefully.
A final note of caution: If you leave dogs, or dogs and cats home alone together, there is a very real possibility that you may come home to serious injuries, or the death of one of the animals.
The author currently has 15 Akitas, 12 of which run together and live with 20 cats. However, when she is not home, certain dogs are kept separate from others.
© Jodi Marcus November