Before the meeting
It is often much easier to educate a dog than a cat. Therefore, you should first of all set up clear rules for your dog. You have to make your dog understand that cats are friends: they should never be chased, even when walking in the meadows or passing through the neighbor’s garden. The sooner you make your dog understand that cats are neither prey nor enemies, the more this lesson will be anchored in his memory. The more cat-friendly your dog is, the easier it will be for him to get along. You know your dog best, have raised him up to this point, and have praised him in your own way. When your dog behaves properly and listens to your commands, he will always get lots of praise and rewards, whether it’s with a clicker or dog treats! Do the same when he is gentle and respectful with his feline companion!
It’s often harder to get cats to understand that dogs are neither offensive nor enemies. And yes, even cats can be educated! Try to reward your cat after each contact with the dog. It’s essential to associate the contact with something positive. This can be gentle petting when your cat observes a strange dog through the window or a cat treat when he remains calm perched on the hedge while another four-legged animal approaches. This is a crucial point. If the preparation has been done carefully, the more likely it is that cohabitation will be a success.
Give them enough space
When bringing a dog and cat together in your home, it is essential that both animals have their own space and the opportunity to leave. It’s often easiest to separate them into two different rooms. For the first few days, the pets should have no contact. By exchanging blankets, toys, and pillows, you give your dog and cat a chance to adjust to each other’s scent. For example, you can wipe a soft cloth on your cat and then offer it to your dog.
Asking for help
It’s a good idea to make the first contact with a second or even third person. In any case, these should be people that both animals trust and do not feel threatened by.
Keep your dog on a leash
It is important to remember that, as a general rule, the dog has the upper hand because of its more massive physique. To be safe, keep your dog on a leash during the first contact. Depending on your dog’s behavior, you can also use a lanyard.
Provide a fallback option
A large scratching post or cat bed placed on a shelf or cabinet gives your cat a quiet place to rest, out of reach of dogs. In this case, your cat will feel more secure. He will observe his larger companion from above and realize that he is not as dangerous as he may have thought at first.
Do not lock up your dog or cat
Above all, do not lock your cat in a cage under any circumstances! You thought you were doing this to reassure him? It’s not! Without the possibility of getting out, he will feel threatened. This also applies to your dog, he must not feel under any circumstances that he is in competition with your cat.
In the following months, you should pay attention to the fact that your pets find their place and have enough space. A cat litter box is not a place to bury dog toys. Food bowls will also be a taboo subject… It might be better to separate the two pets’ food from the start so that there is no rivalry. Moreover, both cats and dogs should enjoy enough tender moments with you, so that neither feels jealous!
Sometimes animals will take one step forward one day and two steps back the next. The process of cohabitation between dog and cat can take hours, days, or weeks, depending on the character and experience of the animals. Don’t despair and remember that there is no rush! The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for your pets to trust you.
Still “like cats and dogs”?
Have you followed these tips to the letter, exercised incredible patience, and still had no success with your pets? In this case, your two fur balls may simply not be made for each other. This can also happen when two dogs or cats get together! Maybe they just don’t like each other. Maybe your cat doesn’t have enough patience to accept a dog and the dog can’t ignore the fact that cats are good hunters… Or maybe one of your pets is jealous. When in doubt, give equal importance to all your pets!
The cohabitation between dog and cat doesn’t work, even after several months? You even witness scenes of violence between them? Then it’s time to let go and think of alternatives. Make a decision: is a harmonious home with cats and dogs realistic? Or do you need to think again? A psychotherapy therapist can help your pets, but do you still have enough patience to continue? This is a personal reflection and only you can make a decision. We are confident that you will make the best decision for yourself and your pets!
We wish you all the best for the cohabitation of your hairballs!