While it’s true that dogs and cats are natural enemies, it is possible to learn how to teach your puppy to live with your cat in perfect harmony. Puppies can be unruly balls of energy as they grow and learn the rules of the home. Their curious and playful nature can make it difficult for your cat to relax and tolerate a growing puppy, especially when they go through their chewing phase. This helpful guide will teach you the right way to introduce your new puppy to the family, how to get the cat onboard to a life with dogs, and what you can do to make this transition easier for both your pets.
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Dog crates are a great way to establish a den for your new puppy. It will teach them right away that the crate is a space of their own where they can sleep, hide, and play with their favorite toy. Many dog trainers encourage pet owners to begin crate training early on in life. This will give your dog a space of their own, and a place they can stay when you’re not able to supervise them. This will prevent them from harassing the family cat when you’re not around to keep an eye on them.
Use a dog jogging stroller from an early age and take your dog for a morning stroll. Learning how to entertain your dog is all about both physical and mental stimulation. When they’re puppies and not old enough for leash training, a stroller is a great alternative. While they may not get physical exercise, they will get the mental stimulation they need to prevent boredom from setting. A bored puppy will often turn to the family cat for some entertainment.
When a cat and puppy don’t get along, it’s usually a problem that’s caused by the puppy. Even young dogs will have a strong prey drive. This means they have a natural instinct to chase after a cat, especially one that takes off running when it sees the puppy. This will cause your cat to fear the new dog. The only effective way to get rid of this unwanted behavior is through training. It’s possible to teach dogs commands on your own, or you can hire a dog trainer to work with the both of you. Obedience training will teach your dog commands such as “stay” “sit” and “leave it”. These commands will allow you to control your dog easily as they interact with the family cat. This type of training will also help to build the bond between you and your new dog.
Only allow the puppy and cat to interact under your direct supervision. This will be very important during the first month after your puppy and cat meet. This is done to protect both the puppy and the cat. Your cat may become annoyed with the puppy’s energy and overeager behavior and end up scratching the puppy, which can make the dog fearful of your cat until it gets bigger.
Making a Quiet Spot for the Cat
Make sure you prepare a safe spot or two for the cat so they have a place to hide if he or she feels threatened. Keep in mind, these safe spots should be somewhere that’s not accessible to the puppy. Usually, these places are high up, such as on a bookshelf, or a window perch. These spots will make your cat feel safe and secure, allowing them to rest undisturbed. Both the puppy and the cat should have their own spaces to hide and rest. As I mentioned earlier, a dog crate is a great option for dogs of all ages.
Dogs and cats both use their sense of smell and their sight to assess their environment. Allowing your puppy and cat to accept and recognize each other’s scents will be a normal part of the process and can help them to become more familiar with these new smells. You can familiarize the scents by using the cat’s bedding and the dog’s bedding and simply swap them. This will help both animals to get used to each other in no time.
How to Desensitize Your Pets
In order to reduce the reaction your puppy has towards your cat; they need to be desensitized. Most puppies will become very excited when they see a cat. Their reaction can cause a cat to feel insecure and fearful, which can make it difficult for them to interact. You can place a barrier between the two animals, to help with the desensitization process. Most pet owners will use a basic baby gate. While the gate separates the animals, they will still be able to smell and see each other. This can take all the excitement out of your puppy seeing the cat since they will become used to seeing them and will lose interest over time.
Give Your Cat Time
Don’t try to force your pets to interact. If your cat ends up running away when he or she first meets the puppy, leave your cat alone. This is a clear indication that your cat is not ready to interact with the puppy. Give them more time. Never force the interaction since this can easily lead to a negative outcome.
A Positive Situation
Never yell at the puppy during this time. If you yell at the puppy every time, he or she interacts with the cat then your dog may associate the negative attention with the cat, blaming the cat for this type of negative response. This can result in increased tension between the animals. Instead, make sure you use positive reinforcement during this time. Lay some heavy praise on the puppy as they interact with the cat. Doing so encourages your puppy to continue to show positive behavior toward the family cat in the future.
Friendships Take Time to Grow
In some cases, a puppy and cat can become friends within a matter of hours, but this is pretty rare. Often, it will take several weeks for a cat to adapt to life with a puppy. It will also take the puppy time to learn about boundaries and how to properly behave around the family cat. During this time, you must be patient. Your dog and cat will eventually get along, but it’s going to take time.
Choosing the Right Dog
- Before you add a puppy to your household, there are some things you need to take into consideration:
If you don’t already have a cat, then consider adopting a kitten and a puppy. This will allow your dog and cat to grow up together. This will increase the odds of them getting along and will allow them to develop a close relationship.
- If you have an adult cat, if he or she has been well socialized then there shouldn’t be any major issues. However, in the beginning a hyper puppy will most likely annoy an adult cat.
- Whenever you introduce a new animal to your household, make sure the dog or cat is prepared to meet the new member of the family. Introductions should be made slowly.
- In terms of compatibility, it’s usually a cat that is too fearful or a dog that is too playful. If possible, try to find a puppy that will match your cat’s energy. A dog that’s somewhat calm and not hyperactive will be a good fit if you have a cat that’s overly fearful.
- Dogs are usually very territorial, and cats are often easily startled and aloof. However, they can live in harmony with another animal, they’re just going to need some help from you. If dogs and cats are raised together in a safe and happy environment, they are going to get along.
Growing up, a puppy has a lot to learn, and as a pet owner, so do you. Figuring out how to teach your puppy to live with your cat may seem impossible in the beginning, especially if you have an older cat who startles easily, is very fearful, and doesn’t want anything to do with the new addition to your home. However, if you follow the tips in my guide and provide your cat with some safe spaces to sleep and hide, you train your dog basic commands, and you keep a close eye on their interactions, over time they will either get along, or at the very least, they will learn how to tolerate each other. These relationships take time to develop, which is why it’s so important to take it slow and allow their relationship to develop naturally.