Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Cats and Dogs: 5 Steps to Keeping the Peace


Cats and Dogs ImageAre your cats and dogs getting along like, well, cats and dogs? There are 5 things you can do to calm things down for everyone.

  • Plan the escape!
    Make sure your cat can get away and your dog cannot follow. Use gates and expens. Here are popular, free-shipping gate options that even have a cat door built in. A 4″ hook-and-eye latch on doors can keep doors reliably open for the cat while reliably blocking most dogs from following (great for the cat box and food areas, as well).
  • Separate but equal.
    When introducing a new cat or dog to the family and if your dog(s) chase cats at all, then keep them separated when you cannot supervise them. Crate your dog or house your cat in a separate room with everything he needs when you are out. Learned this lesson when I came home to find cat claw marks in an oil painting hung well up on my living room wall. Everyone was okay and I will never know exactly what went on but whatever it was, it couldn’t have been good. I was lucky.
  • Rise above the fray.
    Cats like to climb when stressed so get a set up that allows your cat to go up. Cat trees are an easy way to provide this; nowadays there are many options (these are free shipping). Cat wall shelves can work well, too. Just make sure they are mounted well up out of your dog’e reach.
  • Good manners matter.
    A Facebook follower asked how to stop her dog from humping her apparently endlessly patient cat. Glad she asked. That’s an ideal situation to work (on leash) on coming when called and body blocking. Why coming when called? Because calling your dog away from  a favorite distraction is one of the most important and hardest-to-set-up in training skill. So, if your dog is kindly cat focused*, put a leash on your dog and work those head turns! Alternatively, body block your dog away from your cat in a real-life game of Mine! (Mine is a space game taught in My Smart Puppy.) You can also try spraying your dog with a plant mister set on stream (that can work well for cats who are bullying dogs, too). Careful with any sound corrections (verbal or otherwise) as these can stress both animals making the tension between them worse.
  • Reward calm.
    Notice and calmly reward calm. We want your dog lying quietly near the cat without either one being concerned. This is the goal. When you notice it, reward it with calm, slow stroking of both animals (not at the same time.) Help create it by having your dog down or sit while on leash.

Our goal is for your cats and dogs to end up as fine friends. We create that through allowing flight when that is needed, preventing chasing behavior and rewarding calm, controlled behavior.  Take your time. This formula works.

*ALERT! If your dog is so focused on your cat that it makes you nervous, if you cannot distract him, if it feels like he might want to hurt/kill your cat – get immediate help from a dog professional. Also, set your cat and dog up in completely different parts of the house for now with a pet-free zone in-between. Do not take any risks. Bad things can happen very, very quickly.

If you like my blogs, you’ll love my books: How to Train Your Dog to ComeMy Smart PuppyChildproofing Your DogDogologyTails from the Barkside.


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