How to Introduce a Labrador to Cats: 5 Simple Steps

lab and cat

The best way to introduce a lab to cats is to calm your dog and walk it into the room on a leash. Make your labrador sit, and feed it a delicious treat. Feed the cat treats as well, then gradually move the dog closer to the table and closer to the cat.

Labradors have been proven to be one of the friendliest dog breeds with cats.

Though personalities of dogs of the same breed may vary, Labradors are famous for their cool temperament.

And they will most likely get along with cats, and also other dogs and even kids.

This trait should not surprise any individual who owns a Labor has spent a substantial amount of time with a Labrador.

But if this is the first time you are introducing your Labrador to your cat, what is the best approach?

How to Introduce a Labrador to Cats: 5 Simple Steps

Let’s go through the steps to follow to introduce your two favorite pets.

Step 1. Make a “Safe Place” Ready for the Cat

Create an area in your house where your cat can run to anytime it feels like it’s being threatened.

This does not have to be a whole room. It can just be a basic cat tower situated in a corner or a “hidey hole” built on a bookshelf.

Nevertheless, if your house has a vacant bedroom for guests or even an extra bathroom, they will work perfectly well as safe places for your cat(s) in the early stages of pet introduction.

What you should just know is that a safe place is simply somewhere your dog can’t get to. 

It will be very helpful if you have a kitty door, which is very small that the dog cannot pass through.

An economical way to keep your Labrador off your cat’s territory is with the help of child safety gates.

During the first one or two days that these two pets are kept in the house together, the cat should be kept in this “safe place.”

This will give the cat the chance to start acclimating to the scent, noises, and movement of your Labrador.

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Step 2. Make Sure Your Labrador Is Calm

When your dog is calm, it will assist in making the process become much easier.

Before they meet for the first time, be sure to make your dog feed and exercise well to make sure he is content and calm.

In this state, the dog will be able to have an encounter with another animal in a manner that is more relaxed.

Prior to you introducing the dog to the cat, make sure that the dog is on a least, and in total control by you. 

A wise investment is to spend time to make sure your Labrador is very obedient prior to you introducing the dog to another pet. 

When your Labrador is leashed, it should be able to easily respond to easy voice commands like “sit,” no,” “stay,” etc.

Having the ability to control the behavior of your dog via verbal commands will give you the ability to keeping a tense situation from totally getting out of control.

3. Supervise the First Encounter

A very bad step you could take will be to just put your two new pets with each other and leave them to stay together for the next hour simply “working it out.”

You need to always supervise your dog and cat anytime they are seeing each other for the first time, and also during some few other times, they meet after the first meeting.

Though, Labradors are normally very easy-going and patient, a Labrador that is very excited, which is threatened and surprised by the cat, can act out very aggressively and cause harm to your cat.

Anytime your Lab tries to linger towards the cat or acts aggressively to the cat; you can correct this by firmly holding the leash and give the dog a voice command.

Also, give both animals words of positive reinforcement and also give them treats for every good behavior.

Although every dog will have a unique personality, even if they are of the same breed, Labradors don’t generally have a predatory instinct that is high.

Nevertheless; several ones may still choose to chase small pets which include cats.

Step 4. Give the Cat the High Ground

Cats enjoy looking at their environment from a higher vantage place.

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When you put the cat in a place of higher elevation than the dog when they are meeting for the first time, it will make the cat more at ease because it will feel less threatened. 

 Try putting the cat on her cat tower or maybe on a table.

This will give the two pets the chance to see each other from a distance, in a state where they are curious other than when they physically confront each other.

Make sure your Labrador is still on a leash at this point. 

And your Lab should also be as calm and relaxed and possible (as stated earlier),  take the dog to the room and have it sit close to you so that it can look at the cat but not jump towards the cat.

Give the pets the chance to set eyes on each other, but don’t let your Lab chase the cat, even if the dog is trying to play.

The moment these two animals are able to look at each other in a state that is relatively un-agitated, you can start guiding your Lab towards your cat little by little.

With each progress you make, continue giving the two pets positive verbal words and treats.

It’s necessary that you leave your cat when it does not want to interact with the Labrador.

If your cat decided to escape into hiding at a time, allow the cat to do so. In this process, your being patient will be the key to success. 

An alternative method is that if both animals are not able to be together at a literally calm state, try putting the dog in a crate or carrier. 

Give them the chance to interact in this kind of separated state until they have both gotten to a point where they are less or more comfortable with each other and are able to interact without extreme agitation or aggression.

At this juncture, you can repeat the points in this step.

From then, start to increase the moment your cat and dog sons together.

Continue to introduce them to each other while you reinforce any good behavior of theirs with treats and verbal praise.

Step 5. Time to Lose the Leash

When you follow the steps outlined above, your cat and dog should have attained the point whereby they’re able to have supervised interactions with each other, not showing too much hostility.

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Depending on the temperaments of your pets, this process should take from 24 hours to about two weeks.

There will more or less likely be some isolated situations where your cat will take one or two swipes at your Lab when it gets too close.

Don’t be worried, it’s okay for a little dust-up to happen once in a while. Just monitor your pets to make sure it doesn’t escalate to a rough fight.

Continue to monitor your pets’ interactions. If at any point, their behavior reverts to aggression, return to the previous step.

Continue this training until you are confident they can be in the same room without the aid of a leash and cohabitate without violence.

Though, this encounter of theirs which happen occasionally can even be a positive one, in the long run, giving the animals the chance to create their own boundaries is literally a healthy thing.

The swipe across the face which happens occasionally may be the exact thing your cat needs to teach the dog to respect the personal space of the cat.

The moment your Labrador’s behavior is in a way which it has literally lost interest in disturbing your cat, and the cat also seems comfortable enough to be with the dog without wanting to run and hide; you can now safely remove the leash off your Lab.

Continue monitoring the interactions of your pets.

If their behavior changes to aggression at any point, go back to the previous step.

Keep on doing this training until you are very confident that they can be in the same room without the use of a leash and also cohabitate without any format of violence.

Summary

Similar to any other animal that is living, cats and dogs are their best when they aren’t frightened or feel threatened.

If you follow the necessary steps to make sure your pets’ introduction is as free as possible from aggression or hostility, you will be laying the foundation for years of harmony and peace in your house.