10 Tips for Bringing Cats and Dogs Together
Although there's probably a good reason that the expression fighting like cats and dogs came about in the first place, there's no reason why the war of the noses can't become #best furry friends forever.
Our top 10 tips for bringing cats and dogs together will make the transition easier for all of you.
Start them off young
If it is at all possible we suggest raising your fur family together, from the time they're still little. Kittens and puppies are more open to socializing at this age, and because they're more or less the same size, neither one has an unfair advantage over the other.
Also, because a puppy is less confident at this time, they'll be able to establish a pecking order that works for them.
It's not about looks, it's about personality
People often make the mistake of trying to match pets according to their breed, but we think it's a good idea to take personalities into account.
On paper, certain breeds of cats and dogs tend to get on better than others. but if you've got a Groucho Barx that doesn't like sharing his space with other animals, it doesn't matter what type of dog he is. If the new addition is from a shelter or has a previous owner, find out as much about their personality as you can.
Cats need a space to call their own
Cats need to be able to get away from the rest of the family when they eat and sleep. And unlike uncouth canines that can just go anywhere, cats prefer answering the call of nature in private. Keep your cat's litter box in a room away from the dog. This will stop him pestering your kitty while he's pooping.
One way to prevent any turf wars breaking out in your home is by making sure your cat has plenty of space to call his own. Create dog-free zones that only your kitty can access. If space allows, get a cat tree where he can keep an eye on the dog from above. Even better, get him one that goes from the floor right up to the ceiling.
Who's a good boy
Chaos often ensues because dogs instinctively want to chase after other animals, especially smaller, fluffier ones. And when a cat dashes off in fear, a dog thinks it’s game on!
Training your dog to obey basic commands like stay, down and sit will help you control the situation more easily and it'll go a long way in ensuring peace in the home. It's also an opportunity for you and your pup to spend quality time together.
Let them sniff each other out
Because dogs and cats use smell as a way of getting to know one another, it's a good idea to let them sniff each other out before they actually meet. You can do this by simply swapping their bedding around, or rubbing your dog down with a towel and leaving it close to your cat, and vice versa.
Another way of getting them familiar without face-to-face interaction is by letting them play with the other’s toys. Be sure to keep an eye on this, so no teddies or toy mice are harmed in the process.
Let them do lunch
There’s a lot to be said for first dates happening over lunch, and the same applies to cats and dogs. Introducing them over a meal gives them the chance to meet each other when they’re not hangry, and are preoccupied with food.
The best way of doing this is by keeping them separated, preferably on opposite sides of a closed door. While they’re eating, they’ll be able to smell one another. In a short space of time, they’ll start associating each other with dinner, which for both is usually a good thing.
Depending on how they’re doing, you can slowly start letting them see each other while they eat. You could use a dog or toddler gate, a screen or even a crate for this part of the exercise. The end result should be them eating side by side, happily ignoring the other.
An exercised dog is a well-behaved dog
When it comes to dogs behaving badly, the blame usually lies at the feet of the owner. Dogs need to be stimulated, physically and mentally and unfortunately, a quick walk around the block once a week just isn’t enough. Dogs need to be able to release their energy in a positive way and this means getting exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis.
Rather than just taking your dog for a walk, throw some of his obedient training into the mix. Let him sit, change speed as well as direction while walking. This allows your pup’s natural instincts of herding and chasing prey to be channeled in an appropriate way.
Use positive reinforcement
It's much better to use positive reinforcement with your dog, and you're already enjoying training sessions together, this will come naturally. Make sure you praise your pup and give him a reward when you see him being friendly with the cat.
If, on the other hand, you scold your dog every time he's around the cat, there's a good chance he'll start thinking it's the cat's fault he's getting into trouble. Unfortunately if there's already tension between them, this will only make it worse.
Shower them both with affection
when you bring a new pet home, especially if it's a puppy or a kitten, it's easy to forget your old roommate. People make the mistake of spending too much time with the new pet, often ignoring their faithful companion in the process.
Remember to shower them both with love and affection. This will ease any tension that might exist between the two. And it will let the newcomer know his place in the family's packing order.
Take it slowly
First prize is your fur family getting on like a house on fire from the get-go, but if it doesn't work out this way, then our advice is to take it slowly.
Never force interaction between the two, and allow your cat to escape when he needs to. For your pup, patience, with a lot of praise, will go a long way to keeping him on track.
If you follow these simple steps, and give it time, in no time at all your cat will take to his new companion. or at the very least, tolerate him.