How to help dogs and cats live in harmony

Some people compare dogs and cats and say one is more intelligent than the other. Some people also say they do not and can not get along well.

How to help dogs and cats live in harmony
RC (dog) and Sid (cat) get along well together. RC was rescued by Jhet Man when he was a pup. He was emaciated and full of ticks. He turned out to be a big but gentle dog. He’s gentle with his cat sibs and humans. Sid was rescued under a big rock when she a kitten before Christmas last year. She’s a grumpy but a very sweet lap cat.
The truth is dogs and cats are both intelligent. And they can get along well with each other through proper training and the right environment.

In the article “8 Tricks to Help Your Cat and Dog to Get Along in, ” author Kirstin Fawcett noted: “Typically, cats are aloof and easily startled, while dogs are gregarious and territorial. This doesn't mean, however, that they can't share the same space—they're just going to need your help.”

Here are eight tips from cat expert Jackson Galaxy, host of the Animal Planet show My Cat From Hell, and certified dog trainer Zoe Sandor:

“If cats and dogs are brought up together in a positive, loving, encouraging environment, they’re going to be friends,” Galaxy said. “Or at the very least, they’ll tolerate each other.”

1. Take the personality into account, not the breed.

Galaxy and Sandor said “it’s more important to take their personalities and energy levels into account. If a dog is aggressive and territorial, it won’t be a good fit in a household with a skittish cat. In contrast, an aging dog would hate sharing his space with a rambunctious kitten.”

“If two animals don’t end up being a personality match, have a backup plan, or consider setting up a household arrangement that keeps them separated for the long term. And if you’re adopting a pet, do your homework and ask its previous owners or shelter if it’s lived with other animals before, or gets along with them,” noted Fawcett.

2. Train your dog.

You can teach your dog to control its impulses so that your dog can live with cats, Sandor said.

“Does it leap across the kitchen when someone drops a cookie, or go on high alert when it sees a squeaky toy? If so, it probably won’t be great with cats right off the bat, since it will likely jump up whenever it spots a feline,” Fawcett said.

“Hold off Fido's face time with Fluffy until the former is trained to stay put. And even then, keep a leash handy during the first several cat-dog meetings,” Fawcett added.

3. Give the cat its own space before introducing the cat to the dog.

“Cats need a protected space—a ‘base camp’ of sorts—that’s just theirs,” Galaxy said.

“Make this refuge off-limits to the dog, but create safe spaces around the house, too. This way, the cat can confidently navigate shared territory without trouble from its canine sibling,” Fawcett said.

Take advantage of your home’s vertical space as cats are natural climbers, Galaxy said.

You can install shelves, buy tall cat trees, or put a cat bed on top of the bookcase, Galaxy added.

“This allows your cat to observe the dog from a safe distance, or cross a room without touching the floor,” he said.

“And while you’re at it, keep dogs away from the litter box. Cats should feel safe while doing their business, plus dogs sometimes (ew) like to snack on cat feces, a bad habit that can cause your pooch to contract intestinal parasites. These worms can cause a slew of health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia,” Fawcett wrote.

You can use baby gates but there are dogs who are good escape artists. It is best to put the litter box in an open space and leave it uncovered.

“That way, the cat won’t be cornered and trapped mid-squat,” Fawcett wrote.

4. Exercise your dog.

Sandor noted that owners usually exercise their dogs only 20 percent of what they should really be doing.

“It’s really important that their energy is released somewhere else so that they have the ability to slow down their brains and really control themselves when they’re around kitties,” Sandor said.

Dogs should be given a lot of stimulation, Sandor added.

“Receiving it in a controlled manner makes them less likely to satisfy it by, say, chasing a cat. For this, Sandor recommends toys, herding-type activities, lure coursing, and high-intensity trick training,” Fawcett wrote.

“Instead of just taking a walk, stop and do a sit five times on every block…And do direction changes three times on every block, or speed changes two times. It’s about unleashing their herding instincts and prey drive in an appropriate way,” Sandor said.

You can also hire a dog walker, or enroll your dog in doggy daycare.

5. Allow cats and dogs to follow their noses.

Let your dog and cat sniff each other’s beddings and toys prior to the face-to-face introduction, Galaxy recommended.

“This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and avoid potential turf battles,” Fawcett wrote.

6. Carefully plan the first meeting.

Cats and dogs also need a chance to make a good first impression just like humans. It is good that they both love food which might help them learn to love one another, Fawcett noted.

“Schedule the first cat-dog meeting during mealtime, but keep the dog on a leash and both animals on opposite sides of a closed door. They won’t see each other, but they will smell each other while chowing down on their respective foods,” Fawcett said.

Galaxy said they will associate this with the smell of food and thus make the meeting a good thing.

Galaxy said, “Do this every mealtime for several weeks, before slowly introducing visual simulation. Continue feeding the cat and dog separately, but on either side of a dog gate or screen, before finally removing it all together.”

They will eventually eat side by side and will even ignore each other, Galaxy said.

“For safety’s sake, continue keeping the dog on a leash until you’re confident it’s safe to take it off (and even then, exercise caution),” Fawcett wrote.

7. Separate their food and toys.

Keeping the food and toys separate will prevent fights.

“A cat will walk up to the dog bowl—either while the dog’s eating, or in the vicinity—and try to eat out of it,” Galaxy says. “The dog just goes to town on them. You can’t assume that your dog isn’t food-protective or resource-protective.”

“To prevent these disastrous mealtime encounters, schedule regular mealtimes for your pets (no free feeding!) and place the bowls in separate areas of the house, or the cat’s dish up on a table or another high spot,” Fawcett said.

Galaxy revealed that dogs tend to like catnip, thus you have to keep the cat’s toys away from the dog.

8. Raise the dog and cat together if you can.

If they were raised together when they were young, it will be much easier for the dog and cat to get along well.

“Dogs are less confident and smaller at this stage in life, allowing the cat to assume its rightful position at the top of the hierarchy,” Sandor said

But Fawcett reminded owners to stay watchful to ensure that everything will go smoothly. Dogs tend to be rambunctious when they become teenagers, Fawcett said. DC

Topics: dogs , cats , Kirstin Fawcett , Jackson Galaxy , Animal Planet , Zoe Sandor
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