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How Can I Get My Cat to be Friendlier to My Dog?

Dr. Jan Bellows

Introducing a new pet to a home can be a difficult task. When you have both cats and dogs, these animals both do not trust each other and represent real threats towards their ability to get what they want in the household. Though in cartoons it is often the dog that chases the cat, in real life, friendly dogs are often at the mercy of the cruel cat’s nails, as many cats swipe and scratch and new dogs in order to let them know who is boss.

A household that has both animals needs to make sure that they train their cats to treat their dogs well, or else they may find their dog becoming injured and unhealthily submissive, unable to roam freely around the house. Below are two ways to try to help train your cat to accept your dog as a family member.

For New Dogs in Homes with Cats

When you are introducing a new dog to a home, it is a good idea to do as follows:

·         Make sure both know that you are in charge, not the cat or the dog.

·         Create the dog and give the cat an opportunity to sniff it, as well as show any dominance in a harm free manner. If your cat is aggressive, do not worry about it – that is why your dog is in the crate.

·         Try to mix scents between the two animals by sharing a brush or petting both using the same hand so that the two smell of each other.

·         Allow this to continue for several days.

·         Let the pets interact by letting the cat roam free and keeping your dog on a leash. If they are friendly, that’s a good sign, but do not let the friendliness overstay its welcome.

·         Repeat their interaction time for a few more days, then try it without the leash.

·         If a fight breaks out, start the process over. Eventually they will gain an acceptance for the presence of one another.

For Dogs and Cats That Already Live Together and Do Not Get Along

Sometimes you already have a dog or cat in your home that is not interacting well with the other. When that is the case, you will need to try to do the following:

·         Get a tall baby gate that neither the cat nor dog can jump over.

·         Allow them to sniff each other through the gate and show their signs of dominance if need be.

·         Whenever the cat is showing friendliness, give the cat a treat. Cats may not respond as well as dogs do to positive reinforcement, but that does not mean they do not understand it.

·         Make sure your dog learns proper commands for staying, sitting, etc., so that you can make sure your dog does not do anything to instigate the cat.

·         Continue the gate/reward process until the cat is less aggressive towards the dog, then try it with the dog on a leash and the gate removed (you may need someone else to hold onto your dog while you give your cat treats).

Over time your cat will learn to accept your dog as a member of the family, and though there is a high likelihood your cat will never treat your dog like a companion (cuddling and sleeping together as some dogs and cats do), at the very least you can teach your cat to ignore your dog’s presence, so that there is no violence and both of your pets are happy.