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Can my dog and cat become friends?

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We’ve all heard the saying "fighting like cat and dog" right, but is it possible for dogs and cats to get on? The team at The Good Kennel Guide believe that with a little bit of common sense and patience it is possible to have a happy relationship. They might never be best buddies, (but this is quite plausible), but just tolerating each other from across the room will make for a calm  and happy household. Sometimes a little bit of coaxing and a touch of manipulation is all that is needed to help them make friends.  Here are a few of our top tips to help the process along the way.

What is the best way to get a dog and cat to become friends?

The easiest way for a dog and cat to form a bond is to get a kitten and puppy at the same time. When they are both young they are more likely to play together and neither one of them will have to defend an already assumed territory.

What is the best way of introducing a dog into a household with a cat?

An older cat may often accept a puppy and may baby it as it is a kitten, but you can’t rely on this and should still be careful. Meetings must be supervised and handled with care. Initially it is wise to confine the cat in a room that it feels comfortable and safe in and let them get used to each others sounds and smells from the other side of the door. Rubbing an old towel over the new dog and leaving it with the cat to get used to the scent could also help.

After a while, when they both seem calm, switch the pets around. Again this allows them to explore the new smells in a calm way. Do this for a few days, making sure to give them both equal amounts of your attention and affection.

After a couple of days allow the dog to meet the cat calmly and in a safe, controlled environment. This is more likely to result in a tension-free relationship over the long term. Put the dog on a lead and open the door to the cat’s room. Allow the animals to see one another, but do not allow the dog to chase the cat, even in play. Don’t force the cat to interact with the dog. If the cat wishes to view the dog from the top of the wardrobe or under the bed, so be it. Reward the good behaviour of both animals with treats and praise. Never, ever just put the two together and wait to see what happens – one of them could be injured. Cats adore catnip so rub the leaves of the catnip plant, dried catnip or catnip extract on to the collar of the dog. It might just make him seem far more interesting and maybe even worthy of a little bit of attention.

Continue this for a few weeks and build up the time that they spend in the room together. Ensure that the meetings are always fun for both parties and  again reward calm behaviour with treats and praise. A dog who believes that being nice to that cat means a reward will soon come to the conclusion that the cat is not such a bad thing after all.

Once the dog is no longer interested in bothering the cat and the cat seems comfortable enough to come out from under the bed, (how long it will take to get to this step will depend on the animals involved, and you must work at their pace), remove the lead and allow them to interact with close supervision. Always ensure that the cat has a means of escape for when they have had enough. Putting a dog or baby gate across the door stops the dog being able to give chase. Playing is an important way for friendships to be built and socialization to take place for cats and dogs, but both animals have to be willing to take part. In the first few weeks, observe the playful behavior of both animals. When you sense one isn't in the mood, try to separate both of your pets carefully.

Its not uncommon for dogs and cats to become good companions and enjoy each other’s company. Taking the time to manage your cat-dog introduction properly will give you the best shot at this and you could be setting up a friendship that will last for the rest of your pets’ lives.  

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See also:

Are Dog Anti-Anxiety Beds worth the money?

How can I reduce my dog's anxiety?

COVID-19: Dog Handover Protocol for Dog owners

 

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