Paws Vs. Claws
Dogs versus cats—an age-old feud picked up by cartoons and carried on to a personality trend of being a dog or a cat person. But what if you do not want to be exclusively a dog person or a cat person? What if your heart is set on having both animals? The good news is, dogs and cats are completely capable of becoming siblings if you introduce them properly and plan for their long life together.
Before you think about socialization, you should consider the pet you already have. If you already have a dog or cat that is aggressive and territorial he or she may be extremely unhappy with another animal living in their space. Likewise with an elderly dog or cat having to deal with the energy of youth.
One major mistake to avoid is letting your new pet loose with your old pet in the house on their first interaction. You should plan out the first meeting between your new and old pet in order to make things go as smoothly as possible and introduce them in a neutral environment to see their reaction before bringing them both into the same house.
If you are nervous about this keep them living in separate rooms and interchange certain objects or garments with their smells with each other so they can get acquainted. Slowly let them take turns using the entire house so they get comfortable with the scent of their sibling.
It’s now time for the face to face:
With regards to body language, you should be on the lookout for signs of fear and aggression. If your cat’s hair is raised, ears are back, tail is swishing back and forth and they are hissing, he / she is not comfortable but if your cat seems calm and is sniffing your dog, this is a sign that your dog and cat will soon be able to live together
When observing your dog, you should be on the lookout for hunting behavior. If your dog seems fixated on the cat such as keeping his or her eyes locked on the cat and ignoring you do not let your dog off the leash. If you are able to get your dog to follow basic commands- sit and wait while the cat is around that is great and both animals should be treated. Keep ensuring both animals are rewarded around the other so they form a positive association with their companion.
If you plan on leaving them alone in a variety of settings, ensure that during your month of supervised encounters, you carefully watch them both inside the house and in the yard. This ensures your pets are comfortable in both settings before trusting them to be alone. Though this can be a lengthy process, it is worth the wait. Some dogs and cats will get along right away, while others will take more time with supervised socialization and training. By carefully watching both animals you are on a path to success.