“I want my new dog and to get along with my cats”
It’s a simple request, but takes skill, knowledge and time. “Won’t they just work it out on their when they determine who’s boss?” NO! That’s like expecting two 6-year-olds that want to play with the same toy to work it out on their own. They will fight, scream, cry and hit each other. The same thing will happen with your dog and cat.
And worse, if that does happens then you’ve started their relationship with a horrible experience that will take months to unravel IF it’s even possible to undo.
A picture says a 1000 words, so what is going on in this picture:
1. puppy is lying down calmly
2. the cat came over on his own
3. both are being reinforced for calm behavior with food
4. both are having a positive experience together
5. yummy food stimulates serotonin (the pleasure hormone in the body - we’re letting physiology do the work!
6. they will both do this again!
7. the cat can choose to leave at anytime
What’s not happening in this picture:
1. the dog is ‘trying’ to get the cat
2. the cat isn’t being forced or held up to the dog
3. the dog isn’t chasing the cat
4. the cats isn’t defensive
5. no leash or muzzle - while not a bad idea, those items can create a pressure build up & frustration and they don’t address the DESIRE to chase or get the cat
6. no stress signals from the dog or cat - this is huge!
7. yelling, hoping and praying that they will get along
8. letting them ‘working it out’ on their own
This set up might not be right for everyone, so I shared some tips below.
Step 1. Keep the dog and cat apart for the first week before you try an introduction.
Step 2. Use an exercise pen or baby gate to separate the dog and the cat. This will prevent chasing and will decrease stress for the cat. Have the dog sit and take treats near the cat. Also treat the cat. Good signs are gentle investigation and wagging and respect for the cat’s defensive signals. Bad signs are instant attempts to chase, straining at the leash, whining, and barking