(or Puppies) into Homes
I am often asked if a new puppy (or dog) will get along with the family cat or cats. My answer is
always the same “it depends.”
It depends on:
• The ability of the new owners to be consistent in their training
• The effort that the new owners are prepared to make to insure success
• The dogs
• The cats
Over the years I have introduced a number of dogs to cats. These dogs have accepted and lived with my two house cats without problems. I would have bet a lot of money that a couple of those adult police dogs would never have accepted a cat, but they did. With that said – I have seen a couple of dogs that I would never trust with my cats.
Usually the biggest part of a cat-dog problem is the owners. They make a huge mistake by just
bringing a pup or a dog home and just let it loose in the house with the cat. This is a formula for disaster.
Dog owners need to understand that their dogs are pack animals with strong instincts. It’s the owner’s job to learn about pack behaviors and to teach the dog that cats are part of the family pack.
The first step in this process of acclimating a dog to your cat is to provide controlled exposure.
The dog must see the cats in the house over an extended period of time (weeks.) This is done with the use of a dog crate. In the beginning cats are put in a separate room before the dog is brought into the house. I put my dogs on a leash when I bring them in to show them that coming into the house is a controlled experience and not someplace where they can charge around and be crazy. In other words by having them on leash I set the tone of how I want them to act in the house right off the bat.
The period of time that an adult dog spendsin the crate, he is acclimated to a muzzle. I like the wire basket muzzles because they are less restrictive to the dog and the dogs accept them quicker than the plastic muzzles we sell. The down side is they are more expensive. For those people who do not want to spend the money on a wire muzzle the plastic Jafco muzzles are inexpensive and work just fine. It is important to learn to put them on properly. If it’s done wrong the dog may get them off and chew them up when you are not watching.
Once in the crate if the dog barks at the cats they are verbally scolded. If they will not stop barking
I will either cover the crate with a sheet or spray lemon water in their face with a water bottle or any number of other things to control the barking. (That’s the subject for a different article)
The dog is never allowed to be out of the crate with the cats loose until they have gone a week without barking when the cats come into the room. This does not mean the dogs are locked in dog crates for weeks at a time. They can have free time in the house but the cats are put in a different room when the dog is out.