Since not all animals want to be friends with each other, the internet may have given us a false expectation of the potential for animal friendships with pictures cheetahs and golden retrievers cuddling up with their pals. We all know either from personal experience or from the videos about cats stealing dog beds that not all pets will get along, but we can help them ease their transition into making new friends with steady training and calm reassurance.
Here are some things that may help you introduce your dog to your cat with more ease.
Start out slowly:
How would you feel if your life as you knew it was changing completely and a new person was taking over your bedroom? Probably not too happy, right?
Patience is key. These inter-species relationships may take some time, even months, to develop. This is especially true in cases where one of the pets has been living in your space for a long time.
One easy way to keep some space is to introduce them for small amounts of time, and then remove them to separate rooms before reintroduction. Eventually increase the amount of introduction time. A helpful way to achieve a long time together without any risk of fighting is to keep the dog in a crate in the same room as the cat for a while, so that the cat can still move freely, smell the dog, and feel safe with the dog in the room and less stressed that they might chase them. Once that level of comfort is reached, they can alternate roles, so that your dog has a chance to explore the room and smell around the territory without too much excitement or conflict.
Usually you will need to distract your dog, since cats tend to be more avoidant when fearful. According to Animal Humane Association, it is helpful to redirect behavior with your dog to keep focus away from the cat, especially if he becomes overly focused on the cat, is acting intense, or is trying to chase your cat. They recommend treats or toys to reinforce focus on other stimuli.
If you don’t see sparks of friendship flying after both pets have had adequate introductory time and have become more used to each other, it may be best just to give your pets their equal but separate spaces. Even though your heart is likely set on their friendship blossoming as quickly as possible, try not to force the relationship and be patient. Who knows, maybe they will eventually become friends after all!