If you already have a cat and now you would like to add a dog to your family, you may have to go through some complications before your cat and dog learn how to live in the same space together without constantly fighting. You certainly cannot force them to get along, at least not at first – they both need to adjust and that will take time. Usually, it is best to let both of them get to know each other’s scent before they see each other, and for that you may need to keep them in separate rooms for the first couple of days. After they have gotten to know each other by scent, you can let them see each other, but again without letting them approach one another. If they try to attack each other then, you should distract them with toys or treats. If you do everything right and if their personalities match, your cat and your dog may even start liking each other’s company. But again, don’t force anything, just like you’re not forcing yourself to hang out with people you despise. After they have seen each other and have gotten used to each other’s presence, you may let them approach one another if they want.
Your cat should have a place where it feels safe, a place where your dog is not allowed to go. Dogs usually like chasing cats, and you don’t want that sort of chaos in your home, especially if it means that your cat will be tormented. Although you cannot make your two pets socialize if they are both not up to that, you can do some things to make the adjustment easier, and their coexistence more pleasurable.
1. Train your dog.
You don’t need to submit it to extensive training, but it would be good to teach it good manners and how to behave properly when it’s around people and other animals. This may mean that you will need to keep your dog on a leash inside the house until it learns that it’s not okay to chase the cat. Whenever it wants to chance, you should pull the leash and command it to stop. Later, when you let your dog walk around without a leash, a simple command should be enough to stop it from trying to interact with the cat if you see that there could be some trouble between them.
2. Allow your cat to have a dog-free area.
Your cat needs to feel safe in order to feel good, and if it’s afraid of the dog, it’s advisable that you set up a zone where your cat can fit but the dog cannot reach it. For instance, a baby gate can serve for that purpose, or any kind of a separate room. Your cat should be able to get out when it wants, so there should be a door big enough for the cat to go through, but small enough so that the dog cannot. This will give your cat the sense of security and it will get used to the dog’s presence much more easily.
3.Control your dog’s energy.
What makes dogs annoying to cats is their enormous amount of energy and their jumping around and wanting to play all the time. If you want your cat to accept your dog, you should always take the dog out for a walk and exercise and physically make it tired before it enters the house and approaches the cat. Once the dog’s energy is lower, the cat will feel it’s soft energy and the dog will be easier to accept.
4. Keep your dog submissive.
Cats don’t trust dogs they aren’t used to and starting to live with one can be very overwhelming. Therefore, to prevent discomfort on all three sides (yours, the cat’s and the dog’s), you should keep your dog calm and submissive. That way, the cat will be calmer and it will be more likely to approach your dog and get to know it. Once your cat feels safe around your dog, the family harmony can begin.
Of course, cats can be the ones who bully dogs, and if your cat is doing that, then you should secure a safe place for your dog, somewhere where the cat cannot torment it. However, in order to maintain balance with your pets, you need to show that you’re in control and that you will not tolerate fighting.
5. Praise the dog when it behaves nicely.
When you see that your dog is close to your cat, but it’s only watching it and not chasing or attaching, praise it and give it a treat. When you let your dog know that it’s doing something good, it will feel good and want to do the same again.
6. Exercise with both, separately.
Both your cat and your dog need to use up their energy and the best way to do it is through play or exercise. When they have both been physically active, they’ll have less excess energy and they will be calmer around each other. After a while, you won’t have to play with them separately as much, as they will learn how to play with each other without being violent.