Everyday, all over the world, cats and dogs are successfully integrated by simply employing a degree of supervision, effort, and patience. The relationship can end up fairly smooth after just a few weeks and, while they may or may not be best of friends, the two species can learn to cohabitate in mutual harmony. There are also countless cases where the relationship isn’t going so well but life simply carries on “as is,” even though one half of the relationship isn’t happy. Unfortunately, almost always it’s the cat who loses. So many end up existing in a shrunken, stressful world under the bed, secluded to the guest room, or banished to the basement.
As professional behavior consultants, you will eventually encounter at least one case where the cat and dog relationship is tenuous at best. You might be there only to address something with the dog that is completely unrelated to the cat, such as leash reactivity or house training. At some point, you will (or at least you should!) find out about the cat and, as a human that appreciates the needs of animals, look into it. Some clients will be relieved to receive help while others might require some convincing because they don’t recognize the significance of the issue. By arming yourself with knowledge, you may just be able to guide owners and improve the lives of everyone involved.
There are also many cases in which a family may proactively reach out for help to integrate a new cat with a resident dog or vice versa. More often than not, though, you will be contacted after the integration has already occurred. If you’re lucky, everything was done really well and the family just needs guidance in moving safely to the next step. Unfortunately, though, there will be cases where you will also be asked to step in after the integration didn’t go so well. The cat may be terrified, the dog may be obsessed, or there may even be aggression from either individual. In this session, we will review helpful strategies for safety and management, general tips and techniques, stress reduction, as well as basic behavior modification concepts for integration of any cat or dog case. We will then touch on assessing which cases to proceed with and which should not go any further.