Dogs, Cats, & Manners
While I am a dog trainer here in Richmond, I do acquaint myself with the local cat clinics around town. I do love cats as much as I love dogs, but I familiarize myself with these cat hospitals. Why? The staff members of these places has admitted to me that while they get just the normal check ups and feline-related problems, there are also cats coming in after having some type of altercation with a dog.
It’s the same old scenario – dogs vs. cats, or “dogs and cats living together…MASS HYSTERIA!” (thanks Ghostbusters for this great quote). But it is actually possible for dogs and cats to live in harmony in the same household. All it needs is some desensitization and some established ground rules between dog and cat.
When a dog and cat have a scuffle or a full-blown fight, we’re not here to point fingers at who instigated it or whose fault it actually is (though if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s OURS as the owners). What is important is that we as owners are there to guide and nurture the relationship between both species. After enough exposure and interactions, typically the dogs and cats can learn to communicate with one another, or at least understand the boundaries that have been set.
However, if that is not becoming clear between the animals, we have to step in and help solidify those boundaries. When a dog (and even a cat) crosses the line with us, we do what we can to communicate and correct the inappropriate behavior (saying “no”, squirting them with water, etc) . We show them that while they are part of the family, the rewards from us come when better behaviors are demonstrated. Instilling basic manners for you dog is a good first step, as that usually shows the dog that there are certain limitations when it comes to their behavior. Cats are very independent and need those same boundaries laid down for the dog as well, otherwise there could be a problem, for either animal.
If your dog’s prey drive is very high and your cat is a victim of aggression from your dog, your dog needs to go back to basics and needs to learn that aggression of any kind is completely unacceptable. Cat aggression is a common problem I see with many of my clients that have both dogs and cats, but it is something that can eliminated! I am not here to take away your dog’s free will, or his excitability when he sees his cat brother/sister – we just get it under control and show your dog more appropriate behaviors to follow!
If you are struggling with your dog’s behavior toward your cat, and it is disrupting the peace in your house, possibly endangering your feline friend, don’t wait until it escalates and your cat is at the vet! Call 800-649-7297 to discuss your dog’s behavioral issues and schedule an initial in-home consultation!