Cats and dogs can co-habitate peacefully if you establish ground rules and provide proper training. Young animals typically have an easier time adjusting to sharing their space with other pets than older animals who are more set in their ways. Careful monitoring is necessary to ensure all animals are safe in the same house, or it may be necessary to rehome one of the pets.
Why Dogs Bark
Your dog may bark at your cats as a way to establish dominance and protect his territory or to invite play. Your cats might respond to the barking by running and hiding, hissing and scratching or by playfully interacting with your dog. If you’re in the early stages of introducing your dog to cats, monitor their interactions to ensure you’re aware of what triggers the barking and what the reaction is. Pay attention to whether the barking is playful or aggressive in nature.
Successfully Introducing Cats and Dogs
When a dog and cats meet for the first time, bring them together on neutral ground. For example, a little-used bedroom or some place that isn’t designated as a sleeping, eliminating or feeding area for any of the animals. Kennel the dog for a short period and let the cats safely get accustomed to his presence, scent and sounds. Repeat the process by kenneling the cats and allowing the dog to sniff around. This safe introduction lays the groundwork for a successful life together.
Provide Behavioral and Obedience Training
Dogs who are well-trained and follow basic commands are more likely to see you as the dominant animal in the house, and will be more likely to respect your commands. A vital command to reduce barking is the quiet command. When your dog starts to bark, say, “quiet” and feed him several small treats in succession. If he begins to bark, gently hold his muzzle closed and say, “quiet.” If he remains quiet when you let go, reward him; if not, repeat the process.
Provide your cats with high perches or escape routes so they can safely get out of the way if your dog’s barking or chasing frightens them. Keep in mind that hectic situations, such as house guests or a loud environment, can trigger excitement in all of your pets and make them more likely to be temporarily high-strung, excitable and prone to physical and vocal interaction. Even cats and dogs who get along well may sometimes benefit from temporary separation if one is aggressively pursuing the other more than usual.
Spay or Neuter
Unaltered dogs, particularly males, are more likely to show aggression than unaltered dogs. If you aren’t planning to breed your dog, consider a spay or neuter. Not only does this operation make your pup calmer, it has a variety of health benefits and eliminates the potential for roaming, hormonal fluctuations and unintentional breeding.