Contrary to popular beliefs, dogs and cats are not natural and mortal enemies – or at least, they don’t have to be. Getting Fido and Fluffy to get along is possible but it is not always necessarily easy. There are several factors that come into play and it is likely going to take a lot of finesse. However, once they do form that bond, it is typically unbreakable (Hello? Milo and Otis??). So, all of the work will eventually pay off.
The key is to not give up – a pet is a lifelong commitment, after all – and to follow our helpfully paw-some guide on getting your dog and cat to get along. You will be glad that you did, and the future fur-friends-forever will thank you for it too.
Tips On Getting A Dog And Cat To Get Along
16. Be Firm But Fair
There is bound to be some apprehension, of which you, as the household alpha, should be the intermediary to. Be firm and consistent when setting and enforcing the house rules, but also be fair to everyone. Showing favoritism can cause tension and resentment between pets.
One of the first things to do is to teach both parties basic commands such as stop, calm, and stay. Your tone should be firm but not angry, let them know who’s the boss (aside from Tony Danza), and that certain behaviors, such as fighting, are unacceptable.
15. Remember, Patience Is A Virtue
Introductions can be quite stressful, of course for the owners, but also on the animals in particular. Practice patience and don’t push it. Let them get familiarized with the scents, sounds, and surroundings of their new home. No two dogs or cats are alike and they all have their own processes for adjustments. This is especially true for those that have not been socialized with species other than their own.
14. Bribery? A-OK
We all know never to try to bribe law enforcement, although bribing your pets is absolutely okay, and actually encouraged in some situations. If and when your dog and cat are showing even the slightest signs of comradery, you should offer them a tasty treat to reinforce the behavior.
Canines and felines are much more clever than most give them credit for. It will not take long for them to connect their friendly demeanors towards each with the fact that they get a treat and it will only encourage them to get along – even if it is (at least in the beginning) strictly for the Scooby snack.
13. Encourage Playtime Between Your Dog And Cat
Provide plenty of toys for everyone and urge them to play together. Most animals, once acquainted, will want to interact with each other. Now, before you allow free play, the dog should be held by a leash to allow him and the cat to meet face to face without the risk of attack. This allows the kitty to explore freely which can help make them feel safer in the presence of the canine.
12. Always Supervise Interactions Between New Family Members
Until all parties are familiar and comfortable with each other, they should always be supervised when interacting and separated when they are unable to be supervised. It is not uncommon for new fur-siblings to fight, attempting to form the hierarchy, and you will want to be present to be able to break them up before one or both sustains an injury. Once they seem to be relatively comfortable around each other, you can start by leaving them to their own devices for small amounts of time. The length of time can be increased if they are able to get along.
11. Be Prepared For The Long-Haul
In normal situations, new pets can take several weeks or even up to a month to get fully acquainted with the resident fur-baby. And, this is a pet that does not have a difficult background or personality. With those that need a little extra work, it can take even longer. Be prepared to stick it out, it might take a while.
10. Feeding Time Should Be Kept Separate
One of the most common times of conflict between animals is during shared feeding times. To avoid any possible disagreements, new fur siblings are best fed in separate rooms. At least until they are fully at ease in each other’s company. Depending on the situation, an older pet, one who is diabetic, for example, thereby needing a special diet – separate feeding might be something that you will have to stick with.
09. What Is Good For One Should Be Allowed For All
Playing favorites is just asking for a disaster. Any jealousy between pets can get dangerous, causing altercations that could lead to injury or even death. Both should be shown equal amounts of attention and affection as anger between the dog and cat can build otherwise. This also applies to crate training; while it can be a helpful tool, it should be used by all pets in the household or none – to prevent any animosity from forming.
Make sure to check out: 15 Tell-Tale Signs Your Dog Loves You!
08. Take Age And Health Of Your Dog Or Cat Into Account
If you have an older or senior pet in the household, getting a puppy or kitten as a playmate could very well cause issues. However, this can also go the other way with an older dog (or cat) taking their new younger sibling under their wings so to speak. If your senior pet has severe health problems that need to be taken into account as well as it can cause them to nip or bite out of fear or irritability.
07. Schedule One On One Time
One on one time for each and every pet is absolutely imperative. It could be as simple as a quick walk or a five-minute sofa cuddle, all of your furry children deserve some special attention. This is even more important for the non-newcomer. He or she is used to getting all of your attention and will need time to adjust to having to share your affections.
06. Take Note Of The Environment
One of the most common mistakes made is by having a pet in an unsuitable environment and expecting them to be happy with it. If you have a hyperactive Great Dane living in a studio apartment with no back yard, he probably is not going to get along with the new cat. Not because of any issue with his new feline friend, but because he is unhappy with his surroundings.
This can also refer to having a naturally anxious or nervous cat (or dog) in a home that is loud and hectic. He is not going to be happy and therefore likely will not be interested in making new friends.
05. Provide ‘Safe Spaces’ For Both Your Dog And Cat
Regardless of personality and/or breed, both your dog and cat should have their own special place to ‘escape’ to if needed. This should be a quiet, dimly lit room with all necessities (food, water, litterbox) available. This is your pets’ safe space. This is where they can retreat to if they are having problems with other animals in the household, or even if they are feeling anxious.
04. Keep Your Expectations In Check
As much as Disney movies would have you believe otherwise, not many pets become the best of friends right off the bat. It is going to take time. Don’t expect too much, too quickly, likely with time they will get past any problems but it will likely take time, and there really is no way to (safely) speed up the process.
03. The Personalities Of Your Dog And Cat Does Matter
Ideally, you should try to adopt pets that have somewhat matching personality traits, such as a playful dog would do best with a playful-natured cat, it would make things much easier. However, each and every animal is unique in their individuality. Some are older, more nurturing types, and others could be the most playful in the world while still resenting having to share their household and owners’ affections.
02. As Do Background And Past Experiences
A pet that has had past experiences with abuse, neglect, or even those that have had little to no interactions, can show certain behavioral or personality issues. This can make introducing them to other household pets a bit more complicated – but it is not impossible. It is just going to take extra work and TLC (Tender Loving Care).
01. Don’t Be Afraid To Call In The Experts
There is no guarantee that two pets are going to get along, at least not without a fight (or two) and that is okay! That is what obedience and training experts are for! There is no shame in calling in the experts, animals are individuals and some need a bit more help than others. Whatever tools you use at your disposal, so long as all of your pets are happy, healthy, and not trying to kill each other, you’re doing it right.
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