Bringing a new puppy or dog home to an already established feline household can mean big trouble for many families. It’s the sort of situation which can get the new canine into big trouble with family members, particularly those on the side of the cat!
Managing The Relationship
New puppy owners have this image of their cat and dog cuddling up on the sofa, playing together, and washing and preening each other. This could not be further from the truth unless you take steps to manage the relationship carefully.
Help create a neutral relationship before your new animal arrives by bringing something home that has its smell on so that your dog/cat can get used to its scent.
Cats are very scent orientated. Even a new piece of furniture is enough to possibly upset them, so introducing the smell of your new canine into the house is an ideal way to change the setting for them gradually. It will make the fresh scent more familiar before they encounter the real thing.
Management Is Your Friend
Start keeping cat bowls off the floor, so there’s no leftover food around for the dog. Create higher places for your cat to feel secure when sometimes, for whatever reason, your dog goes out of control.
Management is your friend when it comes to creating a cat-neutral dog.
Most puppies learn to chase the cat because there is no initial supervision and control, which isn’t fun for anyone. When your cat is around, your dog must always be on a lead to stop them from establishing bad habits. Doing this will also create a pleasant memory for your cat: they won’t associate dogs with being chased. Decide what you’d like your dog to do every time they see the cat.
Ignoring them would be ideal, but initially, this is very hard to achieve.
No Look, No Reward
At BTPDS, we teach our dogs to look at the cat and then look away. We do this by having the dog on a lead and the cat stationary somewhere (probably eating or in a basket). Every time the dog looks towards the cat, we reward the dog with a treat or a game of tug. No look equals no reward. This way, the “sight” of the cat becomes very rewarding, but it involves staying with your owner. Perfect!
We don’t allow our puppies to be alone with the cat until we know that both animals will be completely safe. A fight between a dog and a cat can lead to both animals suffering severe injury.
If you are struggling with integrating your feline and canine family, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Demi Mansell is a cat lover and owner and owns Powell’s Pups, an Oswestry-based K9 training business. Demi is a qualified puppy school tutor and is part of the Beastly Thoughts Professional Dog Services Instructor Team.
by Demi Mansell of Beastly Thoughts Professional Dog Services (BTPDS)
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