You likely have heard the saying “fighting like cats and dogs.” However, your pets don’t have to fight. Statistics show that 44 percent of pet owners in the United States own multiple pets. This means that socialization for all types of pets is very important. Find out how to turn your cats and dogs into best friends.
Learn the personality differences
Cats are different from dogs in many ways, including personality. Cats are territorial by nature. They want to protect their turf, so when a new animal – especially a dog – joins the household, cats will feel threatened.
Dogs, on the other hand, are pack animals and look to their owners for guidance. For the most part, they love being around their owners and are more likely than cats to settle into a new household. They can be taught easier than cats.
Avoid common problems
If you are having problems with your dog and cat not getting along, most likely it is because the dog chases the cat. This can be avoided through training on the part of not only the dog, but the owner as well. The owner must learn how to teach the dog self-control. In some cases, the cat may be the one to provoke the dog, but this is not as common.
Don’t just bring the cat home, place him down in front of the dog, and expect them to become best friends. It is scary enough for a cat to come into a new home; having to deal with a dog in the home will only add to the stress.
Instead, keep the dog and cat separated for a while. The cat should have his own room where he can eat, sleep and play with toys. This will get the cat adjusted to new home smells, as well as the smell of the dog.
After a few days – when the cat has settled down into his new home – you may want to try introducing the dog to the cat by letting the dog near the cat. You can open the door to the cat’s room and see how either animal reacts. The dog should be put on a leash, and you should be ready to restrain both animals if needed. By reading the cat’s and dog’s reactions, you can gauge whether or not the animals need more time to get used to each other.
Plan the new additions
If you can, plan to get a cat and dog at the same time. Animals are easier to socialize when they are younger – under 12 weeks old. Your dog and cat will become good friends as they grow up together. However, certain dog breeds, particularly hunting dogs and terriers, are bred to chase and may be impossible to socialize with cats or other pets, even if they are introduced at a young age.
In addition, you can plan for a new cat or dog based on your current pet’s personality. For example, if your dog is playful, you should consider a cat that is playful as well. If your cat tends to be more on the shy side, then an older, more relaxed dog may be a better choice.
Dogs often find things that they should leave alone – cats included. Therefore, it is important to teach your dog a command that tells them when they should not approach an object or other animal. Something simple such as “Leave it!” often works fine. When the dog attempts to chase the cat, it is important to use the command consistently.
Create positive social experiences
Dogs and cats rely on the experiences they encountered as puppies and kittens. Puppies should be socialized with other dogs whenever possible. Taking them to parks, walking them around town and having them play with people of all ages – children included – are good ways to socialize dogs. Keeping them isolated limits their experiences and can make them more aggressive toward others.
It can be harder to socialize a cat, but having them build bonds with all members a family is important. In addition, adopting a shelter cat or dog can be risky because their background is unknown. If they came from an abusive owner or lived in households with no other pets, they may have problems socializing with others. However, with training and time, a reluctant dog can unlearn negative behaviors and become best friends with a cat.
Don’t be emotional
If you are anxious or fearful during the socialization process, cats and dogs can pick up on that, and they can then become nervous as well. Think positive and go with the flow. If your dog and cat become best friends quickly, that’s great. If the cat hisses and runs off and the dog chases it, try again later but make adjustments as necessary. Getting angry will just make the process more difficult.
Although it is possible for a dog and cat to become friends in a matter of days, realistically, expect it to take a little longer. The process normally takes several weeks. During this time, the pets should not be left alone together in case the dog becomes too predatory and causes injury to the cat.