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Hi everyone, I did a search for this and couldn't find anything, so I thought I would post it here.

We recently adopted a kitten, 10 weeks old, and brought her into the house with my almost 4 year old puggle (adopted at 2.5 years old. Not sure if this matters).

The first couple of days we kept cat and dog separated, exchanged towels and blankets with their scents, and made the kitten comfortable. On Wednesday, we introduced them to each other for the first time. For the most part my dog ignored the kitten. We kept feeding the dog chicken every time the kitten was around to give her a positive experience with the kitten.

On Thursday, same thing happened. Kitten sat on the steps and the dog was in a down position in the living room wildly wagging her tail and staring at the kitten. The kitten hissed, dog barked once, but didn't move.

We have them do "socialization time" for about an hour, but if the situation turns rough we separate them immediately.

Today we brought kitten down for socialization, and my dog started doing the wild tail wagging, lots of sniffing, and barking. We had the dog on a leash because we wanted the kitten to walk freely around the downstairs to see what the dog would do. I don't want to say the dog went wild today, but she was a little more excited then she has been the past 2 days. The dog jumped up to try and get to her on the chair, started barking when the cat hissed, and tried running after her.

Our main concern is, what behavior should we be looking for in the dog that may indicate she wants to harm the kitten instead of play with her? The dog isn't snarling, growling, and her hair isn't raised on her back, she just barks and gets really excited.

Should we put the 2 of them close together and let the kitten take a swipe at her? Should we put the kitten in a crate and let the 2 of them sort it out?

Thanks so much for all your advice!
 

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I wouldn't try to distinguish between your dog wanting to harm the kitten vs just playing - but that's me. I'd teach your dog to ignore the kitten completely. It took us a month before we allowed Loki to free roam with the cats (while we were home) and even then, when we were out, he was crated.
 

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Thanks Loki Love. We're just hoping that we can get the 2 of them to tolerate each other without hurting each other. We have a baby gate set up that kitten can't jump over, and neither can my dog. Do you recommend any way to teach the dog to ignore her completely?
 

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Do you recommend any way to teach the dog to ignore her completely?
I'd teach a general 'Watch Me' command - that's what we did with Loki. Our oldest cat, Molly, is super skittish which was quite exciting for Loki. Each time she'd approach, you could tell he was on high alert and very interested - I'd give the 'watch me' command and it worked like a charm :)
 

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Hi & congrats on the new kitten! I spent a lot of time teaching Hobbes to ignore my cats when we first got him. He was about a year old and extremely interested in the cats. He has a hell of a prey drive and wanted to chase them. Here's how we did it:

First, at all times when you can't supervise they should be separated. When you have some time to devote to socialization, bring them in the same room, and have the dog on a leash so you have control. Have some really yummy treats with you and sit next to the dog. Have the dog in a down position, and let kitty just roam around. Every time the dog looks at you for a treat, give her one. Mostly (especially at first) the dog will probably just stare at the cat. Every time she takes a break to sniff your hand or just looks away from the cat even for a second, treat. You'll have to do this every day for awhile, if your dog is anything like Hobbes. The idea is that you're trying to reward the dog for ignoring the cat. So when she looks away from the cat, she gets a treat. If you have super yummy treats you might find the dog just goes back and forth between looking at you and the cat. That's okay; eventually the dog will learn that ignoring the cat is rewarding.

This method worked wonders, but it took weeks. It was probably 3 months or so before we felt completely safe having them together without constantly watching. Another thing - make sure the kitty has high places to climb up where the dog can't reach. I have 2 cat trees for this purpose, and that's a perfect solution. If Hobbes is bothering Jack (the cat), Jack can just run up to his tree to get away. It's been a little over a year now and Hobbes still sometimes annoys Jack, wanting to play. Jack just runs up the tree; it's no big deal.

Like Loki said, I wouldn't worry about whether the dog wants to harm or play at this point - either way what you want to do is teach the dog that the cat is no big deal. Just something to ignore.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks again Loki Love!

a7dk thank you so much for the wonderful advice! I'm thinking this will work best because my dog is very food motivated. Right now the kitten has the radiator, book shelves, and the tv stand to jump on to get away from the dog, we're going to invest in one of those kitty condos once we finish rearranging the downstairs. I'll make sure to boil lots of chicken to have during our "socialization" time. All we want is for the pets to tolerate each other and not want to hurt each other, hope that's not too much to ask!
 

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It's great that your dog is food motivated - that will help a lot, in all your training struggles. And it's definitely not too much to ask for them to tolerate each other, but do have patience - it takes time!

Good luck!
 
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