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How to introduce a husky to kittens

2012-01-08   Views:30

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Known for its wolf-like appearance and sled-dog roots, the Siberian husky has a high prey drive and instinct to hunt, according to the American Kennel Club. This can lead to tragic consequences if you leave the dog alone with small animals, such as k

How to introduce a husky to kittens

Known for its wolf-like appearance and sled-dog roots, the Siberian husky has a high prey drive and instinct to hunt, according to the American Kennel Club. This can lead to tragic consequences if you leave the dog alone with small animals, such as kittens. If you raise the husky as a puppy with kittens, the two species may peacefully coexist. However, older dogs may require constant supervision around kittens. Take special care and extra caution when introducing a husky to kittens to ensure the cats' safety.

Skill level:Moderately Challenging

Things you need

Cat litter boxCat food and water dishesCat foodDog foodClicker training deviceDog treatsShort leashLonger leashCat treatsTall cat tree (over 6ft. tall)Treat ballDog toys

Instructions

1 Confine the kittens to a room of their own and keep the door to the room closed to prevent access to the husky. Provide the kittens with a litter box, food, water and cat toys to play with. Kittens under 4 weeks old need a box lined with a blanket wrapped around a heating pad to keep them warm. Visit the kittens frequently to socialise them.

2 Train your husky to obey the commands, "sit," "stay," "come," and "leave it." Use a clicker training device and dog treats to teach the dog to associate a "click" with a treat. Click the device when the dog performs the commands, then treat it. Your dog must obey these commands regularly before you can allow it to meet your kittens. This ensures you have control over the dog if it tries to attack or shows aggression against the kittens.

3 Give your Siberian husky a blanket that you have rubbed on the kittens. This will acclimate the dog to the scent of the kittens. Treat the dog after it smells the blanket to positively reinforce the behaviour. Do the same in reverse, allowing the kittens to smell the dog's scent on a blanket.

4 Allow the dog to sense and smell the kittens under the closed door to their room. Feed the dog in front of the room with the door closed to let it associate something pleasant with the presence of the kittens.

5 Exercise the dog prior to the initial meeting with the kittens to tire it out. Take the dog out on a short leash for a brisk walk for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Always keep a Siberian husky leashed since it can easily escape if distracted while you are outside.

6 Place a very tall climbing tree, at least 6 feet tall, in a room for the initial introduction. Huskies can jump very high, so it is important that the kittens have a high place where they can climb to escape if the dog gets free.

7 Keep your husky on a short leash during its initial meeting with the kittens. Hold the dog firmly and release the kittens in the room. Give the dog a treat when it sees the kittens and does not react by growling or exhibiting hunting behaviour. If the husky shows any signs of prey drive, stay calm and tell it to "sit" or "leave it." Keep the first meeting short, treating both kittens and husky with food rewards for positive behaviour.

8 Put your husky on a longer leash and allow it to meet and interact with the kittens for 10 to 15 minutes a day, increasing the time as the dog reacts positively, without aggression. Give your husky a treat ball or other toy to keep it busy, so its attention is not focused on the kittens. Let the dog off of its leash if it demonstrates consistent, positive behaviour. Continue to supervise the interaction, keeping the kittens confined to their room when you are not home.

Tips and warnings

Plug in a diffuser containing a synthetic dog pheromone in the room in which you will introduce your pets to each other. The dog pheromone puts the dog at ease, keeping it calm during the meeting.

Install a cat door in the door to the kittens' room, so that they can escape to a safe spot that the husky cannot enter.

Place the litter boxes for the kittens in locations in your home that the dog cannot access.

Huskies may be hard to train due to their stubborn nature. Take your dog to obedience training or seek the help of an animal behaviourist if you have difficulty getting the dog to obey your commands.

Make sure that both the kittens and the husky have had a veterinary exam and all of their required vaccinations before meeting to prevent the spread of any communicable diseases or parasites.

Some breeders and rescue groups will not sell Siberian huskies to homes with cats or kittens and vice versa, due to the prey drive of the huskies.

If your husky reacts with aggression to the scent of the kittens on the blanket you give it or if it tries to chase the kittens, slow down the introduction process. Watch the behaviour of the dog, if it continues to behave aggressively, you may have to rehome it or the kittens.

Never punish the husky or kittens for aggressive reactions to each other. Instead, quickly separate the dog and kittens into separate rooms while remaining calm. Intense staring by the dog of the kittens is an aggressive behaviour and requires that you separate them quickly.

Even Siberian huskies who get along with cats or kittens in your presence may turn on them suddenly. Never allow them to stay together alone, without supervision.

How to introduce a husky to kittens

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