So being realistic is this possible?… Well in most cases of course it is depending on a few important Factors. The best scenario is to achieve this when the dog and cat are young. This is because they haven’t gotten set in their ways yet and are still very impressionable and flexible. The second most successful scenario is if the cat is the one who lives in the house and you’re bringing a new dog in.
Now having said all this the most important thing to consider is this… what type of personality does your cat or dog have? The most successful cases are cats and dogs that are NOT AGGRESSIVE and are mild natured. Secondly PLEASE DO NOT PUT ANIMALS TOGETHER WITHOUT INTRODUCING THEM PROPERLY. It is insulting and will result in territorial and jealous challenges. Understand in the animal kingdom there are primitive rules about coming onto ones territory. So realistically for the best start please introduce them properly.
Keep in mind even if your dog and cat do not become best friends, they can learn to tolerate each other and respect their spaces. The idea is to change the way they feel about each other, which can be done by rewarding positive interactions between your feline and canine friends.
Using food, respecting their personal spaces and having a lot of patience are key factors for success. Keep in mind that older pets, just like older humans, take longer to change habits. Also, yelling or getting mad at one or both of them will not help AT ALL, it will only make them feel more stressed and the situation will worsen.
Remember until you are consistently successful with this entire exercise continue to keep your dog & cat in separate rooms until you can have both animals out in peace. This for the safety of everyone involved
Now let’s get started! First things first
If you have a dog:
When going out for walks pay careful attention how your furry friend reacts to cats. Does he bark and lounge? Does he ignore the cat? Is he mildly curious?
- Start associating the appearance of a cat with a food treat. It doesn’t matter what your canine friend is doing, give him a reward.
- Repeat….repeat….repeat. How much? You have to repeat step 1 until your dog sees a cat in the street and instead of barging at it, he looks at you expecting a treat!
- Now give your dog treats only when he doesn’t react strongly to cats in the street.
- Ask friends with dog-friendly cats to let you bring your tail-wagger to their homes. Always use a leash! But don’t pull on the leash unnecessarily. You do not want to punish your pet every time the cat appears!
- Again, reward your dog with food when he reacts properly to cats (no growling, lounging or snarling). Things that are OK include: sniffing, gently pawing and any other dog calming signal.
- When your dog is behaving properly in the presence of different cats, you can confidently move on to the next step.
NOTE: if you do not have friends with dog-friendly cats, ask the shelter you will adopt your cat from. If you can’t find any cats to socialize your dog, you can move on to the next step but will need to do the introduction very slowly and with special caution and supervision of the animals at all times.
If you have a cat:
Cats are often indoor pets and territorial animals. Do not attempt to take your cat to the shelter or other people’s homes to meet a dog. This will stress the animal enormously and set you back instead.
Bring the new dog to the house and proceed with caution and go very slowly as explained in the following steps.
In the beginning you will let each animal investigate the other pets safe place while it is empty and the other pet is not in the room. Pets sense of smell is the first introduction to a new animal. Give them something that belong to the other animal to sniff while they are alone in the room. After they have sniffed the item for a couple of minutes remove it.
Do not let them go into the resident pets personal space (for example your cats litter box area). Move them away from the residents pets personal space by rewarding them when they stay away from it! For example, reward your cat for staying in his area. When the feline ventures into the canine area, gently remove him and show him the way to his own place, then immediately reward this!
Cats are often more territorial than dogs, that is why a safe place for the feline is very important. Also, because cats like heights it is easier to keep the dog away. Make sure the cat can get down from its high place comfortably though, without a furry canine always waiting at the bottom.
How to PROPERLY introduce your CATS & DOGS
The first time you put your cats and dogs together, they should be gently restrained. You can use a dog and a cat leash or have both animals in different crates (with open bars so they can see each other).
This step requires patience and depending on the pair it will go faster or slower.
The idea is to help the dogs and cats create a positive association about the other. You’ll need to teach the animals that when the cat (or dog) is present, only good things happen (treats, toys, games, attention).
Have special toys and treats that ONLY appear during these introduction times. This will ensure that the reward is powerful and special. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Now Finally let’s get your cats and dogs together!
First things first set the environment of the room. It should be quiet without a lot of distracted movements just you and the animals. Also please put on some very soft, smooth jazz at a low volume playing in the background. I also recommend everybody be given a all natural calming formula like Rescue Remedy for animals by BACH to take the edge off.
Put the cats and dogs together in the same room, gently restrain both. In the beginning you might only be able to reward them just for being in the same room. This means, they will get treats even if they look stressed. Do this until they start looking forward to these meetings (because they get good rewards!).
Then, as they settle, continue rewarding them but ONLY if they remain calm and interact properly. No signs of aggression or stress. Depending on how your pets react to each other you might need to do many short sessions throughout the day for several days. You will know when they are ready for the next step when you put them in the same room with gentle restrain and if they behave calmly towards each other.
If your canine friend is constantly staring at the cat, try to distract him away. When he pays attention to you (and not the cat) give him a treat. Repeat many times until your dog starts ignoring the cat on his own. If the dog can’t ignore the cat and only stares and lunges whenever the cat moves (or even if the cat is still) you might want to reconsider. This canine is not good to be around cats. The opposite is also true (cat that attacks the dog constantly).
When you leave the house ALWAYS make sure dogs and cats are confined to different rooms.
Practice until you have mastered the above and everybody is relatively calm in each others presence. Now you’re ready to move forward.
Put the soft , smooth, jazz on a low volume and keep the dog on the leash for this step, but let the cat walk around the room without any type of restrain. Again, always reward good interactions.
Repeat this introduction until the dog does not react to the cat at all and they both seem comfortable around each other (they can eat, lay down, use a litter box). Remember DO NOT let the dog interfere or go near the littler box.
If any of the animals react too strongly separate them and try again the next day. This is not a setback remember the animals are learning be patient.
Again, if you leave the house keep dogs and cats in different rooms.
Going forward what to look for…
When your dog no longer reacts to the cat, it is time to introduce them without any restrain. But always make sure the cat has a place to escape to, like a high cat tree or shelf. The first few months you will want to supervise these types of cat-dog interactions.
Note: if the cat stops using the litter box (soils other house areas), stops eating or stops interacting with the members of the family, the cat is too stressed. You need to go back to previous steps or re-think keeping both pets. This may NOT be realistic for you to have a CAT & DOG household. Remember the safety of all the animals is a priority.
As always I am here to help you succeed with all of your pets needs. If you would like in-home training to resolve your pet challenges I am one phone call away (310) 743-9643 REMEMBER PETS RULE!