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How Can I Get My Dog to Be Friendlier to My Cat?

When you have an aggressive dog and a submissive cat, there is always a risk that your dog will start to show too much aggression to your cat. Though your cat obviously has the means to defend itself with its sharp claws, an aggressive dog still represents a considerable amount of danger, and it becomes very important to make sure that you have taught your dog proper behaviors to reduce the risk of injury to your cat. Here are some tips for teaching your dog to treat your cat in a kinder manner.

Tips to Calm Your Dog
• Make sure your dog knows you are alpha of the pack. Dogs are most aggressive if they think they are in charge, and they should not be.
• Teach your dog the “leave it” command. When your dog starts looking at the cat as though it is going to go after it, tell your dog to “leave it” so that your dog leaves the cat alone.
• Don’t create confusion within the “pack.” If your cat is submissive and your dog is not, the dog should be fed first, because that is how the pecking order works in your dog’s caste system. The cat will likely not care either way.
• Pet both of your animals together, so that their scents get on each other. Animals that smell themselves on other animals are more likely to accept them as a pack member.
• Allow your dog considerable time to get used to the cats presence if it is a new cat in the family. The dog should be able to sniff the cat’s scent through a baby gate or some type of device that keeps the cat safe while still giving the dog plenty of opportunity to explore.
• Reward your dog for good behavior. Every time your dog acts nicely towards your cat, give it a treat. When your dog looks at your cat and does not show aggression, or sniffs towards the cat without growling, barking or showing teeth, give your dog a treat so that your dog associates the cat with good feelings.
• Do not give them an opportunity to fight with each other. Keep them separate in separate rooms, and if you are worried about your dog charging your cat, keep your dog on a leash so that you can keep it back. You do not want to accidentally encourage any negative behaviors.

Habituation is Key

The more your dog and cat are used to each other’s presence, the less likely they are to attack each other or show considerable signs of aggression. Try to keep them in each other’s presence as much as possible, but in a safe enough way that they do not have the opportunity to attack each other. Baby gates or keeping your dog on a leash is the best way to get them used to seeing each other, and the more contact they have with each other, the less likely they are to show aggression.

If you are getting a new cat or dog, be sure and plan for several days to as long a s a few weeks for the two to get used to each other’s presence. For your cat and dog to get along, you need to give them ample time to settle in with each other. Never simply throw the two in the same room (even if they both appear friendly) without going through all of the socialization techniques described above. Every precaution should be taken to reduce problems now as well as prevent problems later.

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