Thursday, December 16, 2010
Cats and Dogs: Happily Ever After?
Here are four easy ways to keep the peace in your mixed-species household:
When you can't supervise, separate your dog from your cat with a door or gate. This will protect your cat from injury and block your dog from engaging in the unwanted chasing behavior.When you are around, make sure to let your dog know chasing is unacceptable every time he engages in the behavior. A strong and simple "No!" is a good start.
Reprogram your dog's desire to chase small moving animals by putting him on a leash when your cat enters the room. As soon as your dog notices the cat, begin feeding him pieces of a high-quality treat like boiled chicken. Keep feeding your dog as long as your cat is visible, but keep him on-leash. Your dog will eventually associate the cat entering the room with your feeding him treats, so he will come to you rather than focusing on your cat. After a while, you can even test this process without a leash. You may also need to condition your cat to be calmer in the presence of your dog!
Stay positive by using a familiar command rather than yelling. Or, you can teach your dog a basic emergency "pause" cue like "Stop!". If you teach the cue as a game, associating it with a yummy treat, you can make your dog stop his behavior long enough for your cat to safely escape.
Keep cats indoors so that your dog has less space to chase. It's also hard for dogs to tell the difference between a squirrel, rabbit or cat when they are playing outdoors. If your cat reacts badly to the indoor lifestyle, consider building her a screened-in enclosure.
These methods, along with some patience and compassion, will help you make your home a place where cats and dogs live happily ever after.