Are you having a dog and a cat, and all the time these pets never seem to get along? It’s common, and you are not alone. The two keep fighting over pretty anything from food to space. Naturally, they are enemies.
They are different in terms of species, and to them, the other is potential prey. Dogs are territorial and gregarious while cats are easily startled and aloof. However, that does not imply that these two can’t live together in harmony. They only need you to help them. If left alone, they cannot work it out themselves.
If you bring up dogs and cats together in an encouraging, loving and positive environment, they can be good buddies or at least tolerate each other. So, let’s find out ways you can get your cat to like your dog.
1. Consider Personality and not Breed
Most people believe that all cats and dogs have a hard time getting along. But that is not true. Some dog and cat breeds have a harder time getting along than others. That means you need to consider energy levels and personality when buying a dog and a cat. A dog who is territorial and aggressive will not be a friend to a cat who is skittish. On the other hand, an old dog will hate having a rambunctious cat around him.
In case the personality of your cat and that of your dog don’t match, you will have to get a backup or separate them for the larger part of their lives. Moreover, when you are acquiring a dog or a cat, find out if they have lived with other pets or can stay with them.
2. Obedience Training
For a dog to have a good relationship with the cat, you have to train them to control their impulses. If your dog leaps across the dining room when some food drops or jumps to crab a squeaky toy? Then they will not tolerate having a small fluffy animal around them. They will jump and chase them all over the house.
The enmity between dogs and cats starts typically with the dogs since their prey instinct is higher than that of cats. The dogs think that every fluffy and small animal including cats and rabbits is a prey, so they chase them. This is what causes cats to live in fear. But with obedience training, dogs can learn that chasing cats is wrong. Using simple commands such as ‘down’, ‘stay’ and ‘sit’ to train your dog will give you an easy time with your dog when you are training him and the cat to socialize.
Also, this training promotes your communication with your pets, making them trust you. This way, they will know you want the best for them. It would even be useful to keep the cat off the dog’s sight until he is trained to be calm. Even after that, you have to keep an eye on them when they are meeting for the first few days.
3. Let them Interact when You are Watching
For the first days after your dog and cat have met, you need to supervise their interaction to protect them. Either the cat or dog can become aggressive leading to a fight which will hurt them.
4. Give your Dog Adequate Exercise
Most of the time dog owners don’t exercise their dogs enough, and so they have a lot of energy to spend on chasing the cat. Adequate exercise helps the dog to relax their mind and spend their energy elsewhere, helping them to be calm around cats.
Stimulation is also essential for dogs, and if they receive it in a controlled way, the probability of them satisfying that desire by running after cats will reduce. For stimulation, you can buy your dog toys, engage him in intensive trick training, lure coursing and herding type activities.
As an alternative for walks, you can have the dog do a sit several times on each block and change the direction at least three times and change the speed two times. This unleashes the dogs herding instincts and their drive to chase preys appropriately. In case you are too busy to engage your dog in such activities, you can hire a trainer to assist you.
5. Allow Dogs and Cats Smell Each other’s Stuff Before Meeting
The first meeting needs to be planned very well. Before the cat meets the dog and vice versa let each smell the bedding of the other at least to build on what they will expect on the meeting day. Otherwise, the first meeting can be an unforgettable battle.
6. Build a Territory for Your Cat Before they Meet Dog
Cats fear dogs because dogs are aggressive. To ease their fear, you need to create a territory for them before you organize for their meeting with the dog. Naturally, cats love to climb and so you can take advantage of the space in your roof and high shelves. The point is to make sure your cat has a base camp that can’t be accessed by the dog. Make safe spaces in the house too. This will make the cat feel secure when she is sharing space with the dog because she can run and hide in a secure place if the dog turns against her.
Ensure also that the base camps are spread across the roof and buy cat trees so that she can cross the room without having to walk on the floor. Make sure the dog doesn’t access the cat’s litter box as sometimes they like feeding on cat’s feces which can cause them problems. The cat will also feel safe when pooping if the dog can’t access their box.
7. Carefully Plan the First Interaction
Similar to human beings, dogs and cats can benefit a lot from their first glance at each other. It can determine a good co-existence or a bad one. Good enough, they all have something in common-they love to eat. You can take advantage of that to help them love each other.
Ensure the first interaction is during mealtime. However, ensure the dog is leashed, and both of them are eating from opposite sides of a barrier. This way, the dog won’t see the cat and vice versa, but each will get to know the smell of the other. And eventually, they will relate food to that smell, therefore, making it something good.
Repeat the procedure for at least two months before you can occasionally allow the dog and cat to meet physically. Begin by feeding them on opposite sides of a glass wall where they can see each other though not interacting. Afterwards, remove the gate entirely. By now, the cat and dog will have gotten used to eating without being bothered by the other. To ensure safety, the dog will need to remain on leash until when you are sure he won’t cause a problem if you unleash him. Even after taking off the leash, you have to observe them be sure the dog doesn’t misbehave.
8. Separate Their Toys and Food
Even after the cat and dog have successfully met via feeding exercises, don’t assume they can now eat from the same plate and share toys. Their toys and food bowls should be kept separate. Both of them are not food protective, so they will walk up to the bowl and go on with their business. If the cat does so, the dog with their greed for food will become angry, probably barking and chasing the cat.
To avoid disastrous encounters during feeding time, ensure your pets feed on regular times and no free feeding. Moreover, ensure the food bowls are placed in different areas. You can set the cat’s food bowl on top of the table and the dog’s somewhere on the floor.
When it comes to toys too, keep them separately because competition over then can lead to a fight. Especially the cat’s toys, keep them out of dog’s sight because dogs love cats’ stuff and will leave theirs to use those of the cat.
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9. Raise the Cat and Dog Together
Instead of adopting a grown dog and cat, then trying to make them accept each other as a friend, try adopting them when young and start training them. It is easy to train a pup than an adult dog because they don’t have the baggage of how they were used to doing things. They will absorb all the information you give them and will believe that is what is required of them.
Besides, young dogs are small and less confident, making the cat imagine herself as the leader since she is bigger. Be observative to make sure everything is in place, particularly when the dog enters his ‘youthful’ stage before he becomes an adult.
Although cats and dogs are two different species of animals, and by nature, they are enemies, they can become friends with your help. In case you have been pondering how you can do that, follow the tips discussed above, and you can expect at the least they will tolerate each other.