Can cats and dogs be best friends?

Ever heard of the saying ‘they fight like cats and dogs?’ It represents the belief that dogs and cats just can’t get along. But is this always the case? Can cats and dogs really become best pals? They can only communicate through body language, and because they ‘speak’ a different language to one another, misinterpretations may start early on in their relationship. So if you’re about to introduce a pup into your cat’s world (or vice versa), and don’t want them to get off on the wrong ‘paw’,  read on.

It’s important to introduce your dog and cat gradually. Try putting your cat in a room with a gate across the door. The idea is to separate them and only allow them to see each other at specific times. The gate needs to be a barrier that allows the cat and dog to see one another, but does not allow them access to each other. Start by letting the dog see the cat briefly through the gate, then get him to focus on something else. When he does draw his attention away from the cat, praise him and reward him for it. Admittedly this is a slow process, but slow and steady wins the race right? Continue to let your dog see your cat through the gate throughout the day.

You might find that even seeing the cat is too exciting for the dog and you can’t gain their attention back. In this case, close the door and begin feeding them on each side of the door. This allows each animal to associate the smells of the other with something good – food! Animals need time to get to know each other’s smells and to get to know new homes before they can deal with getting to know another animal. Alternatively try putting the dog in a crate with a bone or treat, and feed the cat in closer and closer proximity to the caged dog. This will help them associate each other with the good feelings that accompany eating.

The idea behind this is hopefully by slowly letting the dog see the cat and get used to the cat’s presence, the dog will eventually just lose interest in the cat – and you can watch this all through your home pet surveillance camera. In some cases, the dog will lose interest in the cat within a couple of hours, but it can take days, weeks or even months.

If you think you’re the owner of a laid back, chilled out dog then you can try and introduce them face to face. When introducing a dog to a cat, be sure the dog is on a lead, so that if he does get excited, you can control him. One of the most important rules of introducing cats and dogs is to make sure that the dog can’t chase the cat. Nine times out of ten your cat will feel threatened and won’t want to be anywhere near your dog in future. Once a dog develops a habit of chasing, it can be difficult for to stop them, so it is best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Be sure the cat has a safe area too so he can escape if he feels uneasy. Watch their body language too. If the cat’s ears are pinned back or his tail is swishing back and forth, this is a good indicator that he is not happy! If the cat is not raising his back or hissing around the dog, he can be allowed to move around freely. If the dog is calm around the cat, you can ask the dog to sit, or lie down and stay,while the cat moves about freely. The dog should then be praised and rewarded if he ignores the cat.

If either your cat or dog appears frightened, go back a few steps and keep them apart for a while longer. Continue scent swapping regularly and try again the next day. If you keep these controlled, short meetings up regularly you should see an increase in the cats confidence and a reduction in the dog’s excitement as they become more familiar with each other

Keep at it and hopefully one day, they’ll have a relationship as good as these lot!

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