Dog Training Norwich
Its a dog’s (and cat’s) life
It is perfectly possible for many dogs and cats to coexist in harmony! Even a dog who is showing aggression towards cats or a cat who is fearful of dogs, can be taught to remain calm and exhibit self-control in each other’s company. We need to be prepared to make some changes to how we live with them and put in the necessary time and energy to gain their trust, respect and cooperation. They don’t need to be best buddies – although I have come across many who have gone on to become just that. All that we require from them is that they do respect each other’s personal space and refrain from winding one another up!
Unfortunately, for many dogs and cats living together is an absolute nightmare! Both parties can feel very insecure and threatened and this leads to a constant battle of wits and wills as they attempt to occupy the same, relatively small space, of our homes.
The cat enters the room. She knows he’s in here somewhere, but where? She slinks and scurries in a way that betrays her apprehension and concern and the dog who spots her immediately, charges over to see what’s going on. The cat runs, seeking higher ground or an exit from the house. “Great result” thinks the dog. “I got rid of the cat!” and a strategy for cat management is formed.
A little later on the dog is happily ambling around when suddenly something sharp and spiky clobbers him on the back of the head, accompanied by a loud hissing noise! “Ouch!” Yelps the dog, as he scampers away, and looking back over his shoulder sees two yellow eyes glaring down at him from the safety of a chair.
And so it begins, and both animals go on to consistently reconfirm, through their behaviour towards one another, that they really are a threat.
Breaking this cycle of anxiety involves time, patience and good management. Both cat and dog must gently be shown to leave each other alone. Being conscious of what is going on between them at all times, is essential. The message is ‘You don’t need to worry. I’m keeping an eye on things’. This must be backed up with the right kind of action and response, preferably before an altercation occurs and certainly during and after. If either the dog or the cat makes a move on the other, you must step in and calmly redirect them. The cat must see you looking out for her and the dog must know you’ve got his back!
Initially it’s important to restrict the interactions between the dog and the cat, to times when you are there to monitor and manage what is going on. Leaving them to their own devices will only strengthen their concern and anxiety, as they continue to have altercations. It’s really important to resist the temptation to shout or show your agitation if there is a kerfuffle, as this is likely to increase levels of tension and feed into the problem!
As always, it’s important that the ‘back-drop’ to life together, is one of general calm and cooperation. A dog who believes that he is the decision-maker in your home, is much more likely to believe that he should decide if the cat stays or goes. He will also find it harder to trust your decisions about – and management of – the situation. A cat who is used to receiving your undivided attention and has you trained military fashion to cater to her every need, is much more likely to object to a dogs presence.
Sometimes, when things are really bad we will need to spend time doing some specific work with our cat and dog, to help them to accept living alongside each other. If you have a situation where the dog literally wants to eat the cat (or vice versa!) it’s a good idea to seek the assistance of a Recommended Dog Listener, to ensure that you create an environment where the necessary training can be carried out safely, correctly and effectively. Please contact me or visit Jan Fennell to find a Recommended Dog Listener in your area.
By calmly and consistently interacting with all of our animals, in a way that inspires trust respect and cooperation, we can gently guide them through all of life’s inevitable challenges and ensure peaceful and harmonious family groups. Contact Lucy Parkes - Dog Trainer Norfolk – for more canine inspiration and dog behaviour advice.