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10 Ways to Improve Your Dog and Cat's Relationship

10 Ways to Improve Your Dog and Cat's Relationship

Dogs and cats don’t always get along. Dogs may sometimes chase cats, and cats may hiss at dogs, which can be scary if you’re a pet owner. If you’re worried about your cat and dog’s relationship, here are 10 tips to help you improve it over time.

1) Schedule play dates

One of the easiest ways for dogs and cats to get along is if they spend time together in a controlled environment with someone paying attention. That’s why it’s important to schedule play dates with your furry friends or have someone come over who can do it for you. Simply throwing them together in a room will only result in tension, especially when they realize they are both fighting for one place on your lap. To successfully integrate your cat and dog into each other’s lives, be sure to keep them separate as much as possible at first so that neither feels territorial. When you want both animals involved, make sure there are enough toys so neither feel like their needs isn’t being met. Remember, not all toys are created equal!

2) Ignore Each Other from a Distance

When it comes time for them to co-exist, give them their own spaces. If they're in separate rooms, neither one of them has control over what happens in that space. This goes a long way towards helping both pets settle down and behave. The more freedom you give each pet (within reason), the less likely it is that your cat or dog will try and take it from each other by means of aggressive behavior. It's all about respect at that point; treat both pets like little adults instead of animals needing direction from a master.

3) Plan Play Dates

Dogs often feel threatened by other dogs—and vice versa. This can lead to issues if you’re introducing a new dog into your household or simply want your pets to be friends. To make things go smoothly, plan play dates with other friendly dogs before adding a puppy or dog into your household. You don’t need formal playdates, but just having your dogs run around in a fenced-in area together should help them get used to each other—and it may even teach them how to play well together! For example, on my first play date with my neighbor’s pit bull, she immediately wanted me to chase her around our big yard.

4) Prepare your dog for meeting a new cat

While some cats are cat-friendly, many are not. Taking precautions beforehand will help ensure that your dog’s first encounter with a new feline doesn’t turn into a fight. If you don’t know if your cat is friendly, introduce them slowly. One way to do so is by giving them time together in an outdoor pen or small room before moving on to bigger spaces like your home. Some cats can become acclimated more quickly than others (and vice versa for dogs), but generally, it takes time and patience to ease both pets into each other’s presence.

Prepare your dog for meeting a new cat

5) Find ways for them to be together when you're home

If you're wondering why your cat and dog don't get along, there are a few possibilities. Cats, for example, maybe perceived as predatory by some dogs. Others consider cats to be prey. Regardless of which species is more aggressive, it's critical that you do everything you can to keep them safe when you're around. Check out these suggestions if you're looking for ways to help both pets feel at ease in your home. They might make a big difference in their relationship.

6) Add distractions (toys, treats, grooming, etc.)

Adding distractions can help cats and dogs get along. Cats are usually easily distractible, but dogs take a little more effort. In some cases, you may need a dog trainer who is also certified in animal behavior modification (CPDT-KA) in order to change your dog’s behavior or create new associations for it. If you can introduce a new treat that only comes out when the two pets are separated, your cat will learn to associate peace with his canine housemate. Reward your pet with praise whenever he follows through—and remember that most animals don’t respond well to harsh scolding, regardless of how much they may deserve it. A kind word or quiet affection can go further than punishment in improving an animal’s behavior for everyone involved.

7) Create predictable routines

Dogs are pack animals, meaning they thrive when they know what is expected of them. This includes sticking to a daily routine. You might want to take your dog on a long walk in the morning, but that doesn’t mean it should be a surprise if you also plan on taking him for a jog in front of your apartment building at 6 p.m. every day after work; dogs like consistency! If you get home from work late one night, don’t do anything different until he becomes accustomed to it.

8) Create predictable escape routes

Some dogs enjoy getting out of sight of their owners, while others hate it. If your dog doesn’t, particularly like being alone, create a predictable escape route with your cat that leads back to you. For example, if you have a window or screen door in your home, teach both pets how to use it. Then let them get familiar with it over time by occasionally letting them go outside together—and then calling them back in when they’re ready. Keep practicing until they can exit using it at will, but return on command. Now, whenever you go into another room for a few minutes—or even leave the house—both pets know exactly where they should head off to next: each other!

9) Eliminate reasons for fighting

Dogs and cats may fight over territory, in order to establish a pecking order, or even due to simple boredom. If your cat is getting into your dog’s food or scratching his furniture, keep them apart when you can’t supervise. Also, consider providing enrichment for both animals—different toys for each can help prevent jealousy issues. You could also teach your cat that her high perch near your dog’s kennel means treats for her. Just throw treats up there every once in a while, so she starts associating it with something positive; eventually, she’ll learn that the place means good things happen.

10) Have fun with toys and training sessions!

Part of improving your cat and dog’s relationship involves creating a fun, positive environment for both pets. Make vacations like playtime or training time positive experiences for both animals, which means that your dog will spend time focusing on playing with toys rather than getting into fights with your cat. To prevent these issues from occurring, give both pets enough attention throughout each day, so they’re happy with their surroundings. If you notice any signs of tension between them (like growling or fear), address it head-on by supervising them closely until they warm up to one another.

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