A key to harmony with dogs and cats living together is keeping the level of excitement between the animals low. I have a big friendly dog and an older, small, not-so- friendly cat. They get along fine — they don’t play much. The dog would like to play and the cat not. When the two interact its a polite sniff and tail wag (from the dog), and then they leave each other alone. And that’s EXACTLY how I like it and want it to stay.
My goal is to keep excitement low. I don’t want my dog to know the joy of chasing a small furry thing — prey chase is an innate and strong drive in most dogs. Seeing something run away from them gets their prey chase drive going. What a rush that prey chase must be for a dog! Dogs that learn (and love) to chase prey are much harder to control in the presence of cats and squirrels, and I want my dog under control in the house and outdoors for off-leash walking. Your success with a cat and a dog together can be helped by keeping levels of arousal low with management of your dog and cat’s environment and with three key commands: leave it – which teaches your dog to stop interacting with something, place – which tells your dog to go to its mat, and finally a cue that tells your dog to stop what its doing and come to you. Once you have these three cues, your life with your dog and cat will be manageable and happy.