Many people see dogs and cats as natural enemies. While some dogs can happily get used to living in the same house as a cat, others see cats as prey and act aggressively around them. Some dogs are incapable of getting along with cats because of their natural prey drive and instinct. Certain breeds such as greyhounds, pit bulls andl terriers hunt small animals by sight and cannot be trusted with cats. There is no cure for cat aggression in dogs, but there are ways to manage it and sometimes change the way your dog feels about cats.
Separate your dog and cat in different rooms. Put your dog on a leash and slowly and calmly approach the cat room.
Walk slowly toward the cat. Watch your dog closely for a reaction. Stop and walk backward. Reward your dog with a treat when it turns away from the cat and follows you. Go back a step and start from a greater distance if the dog is too excited or is showing serious aggression. Repeat the process over a period of days or weeks until the dog does not react in a negative way at the sight of the cat.
Take a step closer to the cat if your dog is calm. Reward your dog with its favorite treat for remaining calm. Leave the room with your dog if it reacts.
Approach the cat and sit on the floor with the cat on one side and the dog on the other. Give each animal treats for calm behavior. Praise the dog for sniffing the cat gently if the cat allows it. Redirect the dog's attention if it becomes too intense, or remove it from the room for a short time-out.
Supervise your cat and dog when they are in a room together. Confine your animals in different rooms when you leave the house until you feel you can trust them together.
Feed your cat about a minute before you feed your dog, on each side of a closed door. This allows them to smell each other while they eat, which creates a positive association with each other. Dominant animals eat first in the animal kingdom, and when your dog knows that the cat is eating first, it will eventually accept the fact that kitty is the boss, which defuses the aggressive mindset. Food order desensitization can go a long way in establishing a safe dog-cat relationship.
Avoid creating a situation in which the cat runs away, because this could trigger the dog's prey drive and be counterproductive.
Do not yell at or get frustrated with your dog and cat if they do not react as expected. Make all encounters positive. If you punish your animals, they might associate the negative feeling with one another, making the problem worse.
Ask a friend or neighbor to sit with the cat and keep it calm by petting it and talking to it in a gentle voice.
Make sure the cat has plenty of places to escape to, such as shelves or a cat condo, if the dog gets overexcited.
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- The spitz-dog and cat on a neutral background image by Ulf from Fotolia.com