Cats And Dogs In Harmony

Cats and dogs living together in harmony is not a fantasy -- it can become reality with hard work, patience and time. Following are five tips to get you started on the path of multi-pet bliss.

Dog and Kitten

Multiple-pet households

Spay and neuter all pets to keep hormones and aggression at bay. Most pet altercations occur over food, toys, bones and attention. If possible, keep food separate, and supervise your animals during activities that have caused problems in the past. Remember to have special bonding time with each pet individually, and be sure they all know who is in charge. Don't underestimate the power of rewarding good behavior -- in cats and dogs!

Cat plus cat

First impressions are especially important with cats, so introduce cats slowly. Start by keeping them in separate rooms, then switch rooms the next day so they can get used to each other's scent. Give rewards so they associate the new smell with pleasant things. When both cats are relaxed, open the doors a crack so they can see each other. If all goes well with this first meeting, open the door farther and let them interact at their own pace. With any signs of aggression, retreat them back to separate rooms and move forward at a slower pace. Cats will not be rushed into a relationship; therefore, humans must be patient with their progress. You can use this process for cats already in the same household who are not getting along, too.

Dog plus cat

Again, for young and mature cats, introductions are crucial. In preparation, now is a good time to refresh your dog's manners. Before the big meeting, give your dog some exercise to burn off some energy. Depending on your cat's tolerance, start the introduction with your dog behind a baby gate, or on a leash. Let the cat explore at her leisure. Never hold or restrain your cat; she needs to have an escape route if necessary. A good relationship may take years to build, or your cat may tolerate your dog without a fuss. No matter how the cat and dog eventually get along, make sure kitty has a space of her own that the dog can't access. Keep litter boxes in a safe place away from dogs, so cats can do their business in peace.

Dog plus dog

Rivalry in dogs usually occurs because dominance is unclear. One dog must be the leader, and they must figure out who this is on their own. We humans tend to treat dogs as equals, which intensifies the problem. Once dogs establish their hierarchy, owners need to support it by allowing the leader to always go first -- with meals, treats, toys and even going outside. Of course, the human family should be the ultimate alpha dog. Make all dogs work for everything; have them sit for meals, shake "hands" to go outside or lie down for a bone.

What to do when fighting occurs

When a fight does break out, whether between dogs, cats or mixed, never attempt to reach in with your hand or body to stop it. A good dousing with water from a hose or a nearby water bottle will usually do the trick. Punishing the animals tends only to exacerbate the problem. A good time-out is best where all involved can retreat to a safe place. In extreme cases of frequent fighting, a trainer or animal behaviorist can help.

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Comments on "Cats and dogs not getting along? 5 Tips to help your pets get along"

Bonny April 02, 2014 | 10:24 AM

we have adopted a retired greyhound my cat (6 yrs old) is not accepting him. If I hold the cat, the dog will come over and lick him. but if the cat is by himself he will run and of course the greyhound will chase him. I really want them to at least tolerate him. We also have a golden retriever who is the cats "best friend". She has accepted the greyhound.

sophie hayden January 29, 2014 | 5:08 AM

I have a cat that never been in contact with a dog.. I also have a border collie that living with my mum due to was unable to give him the needs due to pregnancy but now I have my child I would like him back livin with me the only problem is that he's not that keen on cats... Is there any way I can get him use to cats so he'll b fine... I hope there's a solution.

Karen October 28, 2013 | 5:54 AM

My boyfriend and I are considering moving in together. The problem is I have a female calico cat that is very much an alpha personality and he has a female cat and dog with the same personality. My cat has been fixed so has his animals. My cat is very territorial when it comes to me. She typically doesn't like anyone but me. My other cat is pretty much easy going and knows who's boss which is her sister cat. Is there any advise you have to offer in this situation??? Please help!

Joyce August 23, 2013 | 9:05 PM

We have a cat that is aggrasive and picks fights with the dog. What should I do?

Tanya Morley June 25, 2013 | 6:13 AM

We have just had a king charles cavalier from a rescue centre and want to get my neutured cats used to him and vice versa. At present we have to keep them totally.apart as the dog just barks and tries to chase the cats which of course scares them and they take off and hide. Whats the best way to handle this situation? Thanks

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