Most people are aware of the fact that dogs and cats aren’t exactly best friends, but what they might not know is that humans’ behavior is usually a factor in this animosity-infused relationship. So if you are an owner of a dog or cat and are considering introducing a new pet of the other species into your household, it’s important to be aware of the fact that your actions could have significant impact on your pets’ interactions. By abiding by the following four tips, you can help to promote a healthy and happy home full of both dogs and cats:
1. Don’t let preconceived notions get in the way.
Many pet owners have pre-fabricated ideas of what kind of relationship their pets will have. Some believe that their cats will inevitably be afraid of their dogs, and most think that all of their dogs will react to their cats the same way, and vice-versa. This is rarely the case, however. Often, cats are actually the dominant animal, but, just because one of your cats dominates your dog doesn’t mean that all of your cats will. Similarly, if one dog dominates your cat, don’t assume that your others will. Just be aware that the pecking order in your household won’t necessarily be organized in terms of species, and it probably won’t organize itself the way you anticipated.
2. Correct the cat’s bad behavior.
Contrary to popular belief, cats really can be trained, at least to a degree. It’s therefore important that you refuse to reward your cat’s bad behavior, as this serves only to reinforce that behavior. If your cat is instigating conflict with your dog, then a good solution is to simply physically remove him from the situation, and be sure that you do not show him any affection until he has calmed down. A light pinch on the back (nothing to cause pain – just enough to distract him) should also do the trick.
3. Make them spend time together – whether they like it or not.
If you want your dog and your cat to get along, they’re going to have to spend time together. At first, they may be prone to isolating themselves from one another, but this solution is temporary at best. Instead, be sure to schedule time periods of monitored interaction to ensure that your dog and cat can become acclimated to the presence of one another and can learn to remain calm while in the same room. The more used to each other they become, the more likely they are to accept one another.
4. Do not shelter either animal unless absolutely necessary.
During these periods of interaction, be sure that you aren’t sheltering either pet (unless things get out of hand, of course). A hierarchy needs to naturally establish itself, and if you interfere, you could knock it off balance. The exception, of course, is a situation in which one pet becomes violent or aggressive. In this case, you need to step in quickly to remove the aggressive pet to ensure that this behavior does not become habitual. This is especially true in the case of dogs, which can actually kill cats quite easily – even accidentally – should they learn to view them as enemies.
By following these tips, you should be well on your way to creating a happy house that both dogs and cats are able to call home. Although neither pet should be favored in front of the other, it is important to remember that you are your pets’ primary protector, so you should use your best judgment when it comes to playing referee.
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