A dog chasing a cat is an image we are all used to on Saturday morning cartoons and we all know the feud these two species have is legendary.
But does it have to be this way? Can’t we all just get along? The simple answer is, yes; just look at these two cuties.
I am not saying your animals need to be at a stage where they can wrestle like WWF, but you can get a bit more harmony in your animal house.
Socialising cats and dogs is not essentially hard, but it does require extremely small steps and a whole lot of patience, especially when the dog is already reactive. Of course the easiest and most efficient way to having a dog and cat friendly home is to raise them from pup and kitten together.
However sometimes life does not allow this so here are some steps to achieve a home safe for canine and feline:
Tip 1 Set your dog up to win!
The introduction should be done in a calm and confident manner. Exercising your dog with low energy exercise such as a long loose lead walk will help put your dog in a calmer state instead of letting his energy out on the cat.
If you are not in a position to guarantee a successful introduction do not attempt it as you may cause more damage to their relationship.
Tip 2 Avoid reactions
When you begin an introduction, watch the dogs body language closely. If the dog can see the cat, is staring intensely, tail erect, weight shifted to the front two paws or all or a combination of the above, separate them immediately and try again later. If the dog does not seem interested in the cat at all, GREAT! Remove and reward them, even if it was for 1 minute this is still an improvement and the exact behaviour you want to encourage.
The behaviour you are aiming for from your dog is the “I don’t give two hoots about that cat” attitude.
Tip 3 Take your time
This is not something that will happen overnight. Plan your steps small, have them in an area or position where they can first just smell each other’s scent and then move on to them being able to visually see each other but not make contact. Always aim for a short loose lead session and slowly bring the duration up, this can take months but remember it will only take one small negative reactive session to put you back several steps.
Tip 4 Feeding and scent swapping
Feed the dog and cat in an area where they can either see or still smell each other. Food is a positive time for both animals and the more comfortable they get eating and sleeping in mutual areas the better.
Becoming more familiar with the sight and scent of each other is really what socialising is. Try rubbing a blanket on the animals and putting these under the others food bowl. The familiarity with the excitement of food will help them associate the two together.
Tip 5 Confidence
In all dog training and handling, confidence is a vital key to success. If you believe the dog will ravage the cat into tiny little pieces and your knees are shaking while trying to perform an introduction, then you are either too far advanced in your steps and need to bring it back or you need professional assistance.
By flooding the animals with the sight and scent of the other you will slowly gain some improvement and if successful maybe you can start socialising your dog with other animals; just like our friend Kondo and his new very large friends.