There is no denying that we absolutely love animals, whether they be furry or feathery or scaly. Owning one type of pet has never been on our agenda and we love to enrich our lives with a plethora of animals. Even though we seem to have got the balance correct, there is no denying that there may be some issues with having several types of animals in your home. In this post, we will discuss the complexities of introducing several pets together and how we have overcome these issues.
Can cats and dogs get along?
We are a family with 3 dogs aged between 5 and 8 and 4 cats aged between 5 months and 12 years old. For as long as I can remember, we have never had a time where we haven’t had at least one cat and one dog together and so far (touch wood) we haven’t had anything go wrong. As I’m writing this post, our kitten is sat with two of our dogs. At only 5 months old, she is already so confident around our dogs that she even chooses to sleep with them, play with them and if she’s feeling especially cheeky steal their dinner.
The relationship between cats and dogs is nothing like they are portrayed in cartoons. Yes there are some dog breeds that are naturally inclined to chase small furries and if you were to want a harmonious household we would advise that you avoid some terrier and hound breeds. But the truth is, a harmonious household is all down to the introduction process.
How to introduce dogs to cats
The process will slightly differ depending on who was in the household first. We find that the younger the animal, the more open to accepting others they are but you should still proceed with caution.
The first thing you should be aware of is body language. A distressed cat is likely to have its ears pinned back, an arched back and will use its wagging tail to show its displeasure. It’s important that a distressed cat is not pushed any further and should be removed from the situation. A distressed dog is likely to lower its tail and show warning signs such as growling, lip licking and hackles raising. It is more likely that a dog will show signs of a prey drive and will focus directly on the cat, stiffen, whine and even bark. Should a dog show signs of this they should be removed from the situation as it’s likely to go awry.
Both the cat and the dog should have separate rooms from each other to retreat to if needed. We find that stair gates work best as most cats can jump over or through the gaps to get away from a chasing dog. As with all training, only positive rewards should be used and it’s very important that the dog never be punished as it may start associating the cat with its punishment and therefore the cat becomes even more of a threat.
- The use of long lines in the house to prevent the dog from being able to chase the cat.
- Making sure the dog has good recall first. Whenever the dog attempts to chase the cat, the dog should be called back and rewarded for good behaviour.
- Swapping scents with one another through the use of blankets before being introduced.
- Taking your time. It’s not going to be a quick process so the more time you can take before they meet face to face the better.
- Saving your dogs most favourite treats for the face to face introduction. By offering a high value reward, your dog will hopefully be much more focused on you than the cat.
Helping your cat settle
Kittens and younger cats are far more adaptable when it comes to introducing them to other animals and as they grow up and develop, the bond they have with other pets can become extremely strong. But what about the older cats who perhaps aren’t used to sharing their space?
We have introduced both older cats and kittens to dogs and although the process is much easier with a kitten, it is possible for an older cat to settle too. We have always made sure to have a dog free zone, well away from any canines that is much quieter. In our case, we have designated the whole of the upstairs to our cats but it could be a catio in the garden or an office or a bedroom. We make sure that the cats have access to their litter tray, food and water and cosy places to sleep and hide. If your cats are allowed outside it would be a good idea to install a cat flap into this area too so the cats can get in and out without being disturbed or chased by dogs.
It may be that your dogs and cats need to be separated for a while whilst they get used to the sounds and smells of one another before they get to meet face to face. Meetings should be short and sweet, with the dogs remaining on a lead and access to an escape for the cats should they need it. It’s important to never force them together and even more important to never leave them unattended with one another. Not only can a dog seriously injure or worse kill a cat but a cat is able to do serious damage with their claws if they feel threatened.
Make sure that your cats are receiving as much attention as possible. Although a dog might seem like they require all of your time and attention, cats are equally as grateful for a fuss and cuddle and play. It might be a good idea to crate your dog for a short while whilst the cat gets access to the rest of the house or send your dog out with a dog walker or family member for a bit of respite for the cats.
Seeking professional help
If you have followed all of our advise and you are still struggling with the introduction of your cats and dogs it might be best to consult a professional. The best method is to seek a certified dog trainer or behaviourist who has experience with prey drive in dogs and does house visits and one to one sessions. Please make sure that whoever you choose is a positive reward based trainer. It is also possible to consult a feline behaviourist if you feel that your cat is struggling too. Alternatively, a consultation with your vet may be in order who are often able to refer to qualified behaviourists in your area.
We truly hope that you are able to successfully introduce your multipet household with one another and for everyone to live harmoniously as they do in our own home. Our experience shows that it takes some time and a whole lot of patience but it’s worth it in the end.
How many different pets do you have in your household? Do you have any tips for how you introduced them to one another? Share them in the comments below!
One of the events people most look forward to during the year is their family holiday. As a nation where 27% of the adult population owns a dog, a lot of families are looking to take their canine companion along with them. In single dog households, the selection is vast and finding a cottage that will accommodate them and their dog is pretty easy but what about us with more than one canine? As a family of 4 adults and 3 dogs, these companies have provided us with the most options for our yearly vacation.
1. Canine Cottages
This company features over 4000 dog friendly properties located all over the UK. With a search function of up to 5 dogs, finding a property for your pack is much easier than you thought. We love this site for its broad selection and for its easy to use filter function. Many of the properties are tried and tested by their team of canine critics meaning you know only the best for your dogs.
2. Pets Pyjamas
Similar to Canine Cottages, this site is a compendium of properties from across the UK. This site includes both cottages and hotels with over 16,000 properties on their books. There are often dogs go free promotions to take advantage of too!
3. Dog Friendly Cottages
A collection of dog friendly cottages spanning from the Yorkshire Dales to the South West. Featuring a range of property types including tiny log cabins, cute cottages and large country manors it shouldn’t be too hard to find your perfect holiday here.
1. Norfolk Hideaways
We decided to take our pack to the extremely dog friendly Norfolk this year. The selection of properties on this site were absolutely perfect for our needs and we managed to find a gorgeous property right on a dog friendly beach. The absolute dream for our canines!
2. Holidays in Cumbria
This company comprises of just 2 properties but with houses sleeping 6-8 people and an unlimited number of dogs welcome, we think this is the perfect place to take your family, canines and all.
3. Hele Barton Cottages
Perhaps our favourite holiday location, Cornwall is the perfect place to take your dogs off-season. These properties are situated on a 500 acre farm near Bude, allowing you and your dogs plenty of space to explore. The converted farm properties sleep up to 4 dogs so your pack is definitely welcome here.
4. Marsdens Cottages
We discovered 31 properties that sleep at least 3 dogs on this Devon based site. The properties are more on the higher price range but feature some beautiful luxuries and range in size from sleeping 2 people all the way up to 18 people so you could invite the entire family with you (or just have extra space for your dogs, we won’t judge).
5. Pack Holidays
Specialising in multidog holidays in Norfolk and nearby areas, Pack Holidays has a fantastic selection of properties for your canines as well as a search function allowing you to look at properties most suitable for a reactive dog. We love this added feature as reactive dogs need holidays too!
6. Boturnell Farm Cottages
A collection of properties situated on a farm in Cornwall that allows an unlimited number of pets to holiday with you (including horses). This company is so pet friendly they have a doggy first aid kit, throws for the sofas and 8 acres of land to explore. What more could you need?
7. Woodland Cottages
Marketing themselves as ‘very dog friendly’, this collection of properties in Devon has unlimited number of dogs allowed, no rules against dogs on beds and sofas and has it’s very own private paddock for dogs to play in.
This popular website allows you to contact owners of properties directly. This means that finding a property that suits your needs is easier than you might think.
Love it or hate it, camping is a great option to think about when you have multiple dogs in your family. There are plenty of dog friendly campsites situated all over the UK ready for your canines to explore.
We hope that you are able to find your perfect holiday within this list. If you have any recommendations leave them in the comments below!
The name All the B’s might sound a little strange to the casual passerby but the name originates from the names of our three gorgeous rescue dogs, Bailey, Belle and Beau. We thought today we would share the story of our dogs, their rescue and how they are getting on today.
Bailey is a 5 year old mixed breed adopted in 2016 from the RSPCA. He was seized from a neglectful situation alongside his 8 other siblings and his Staffie-Cross mother. Not much else is known about his backstory other than the fact that his case ended up in court and that he had several skin issues probably from neglect.
We adopted Bailey when he was 4 months old. All his other siblings had already left the centre and his mother had sadly been returned back to the original owner much to everyone’s dismay. We fell in love with the scruffy black puppy with his tiny white teeth poking out over his top lip. He wasn’t conventionally the most beautiful dog but boy did he steal our hearts.
Nowadays, Bailey is the perfect companion. He attended training classes for a number of years that he did really well in, trained in agility for fun and regularly competes in fun dog shows. Bailey has taught the girls how to be a dog and is a good influence on the dogs that come through our doors. His early skin issues have continued throughout his adult life with a grand total of 27 allergies under his name and regular trips to the vets (everyone knows his name!) but thankfully his treatment hasn’t left any mental scars.
The second dog to join our family, Beau was adopted in 2017 from Many Tears Animal Rescue. She is a Shih Tzu who had been used on a puppy farm for 3 years leading to 4 litters of puppies who were taken from her at an early age. She spent those years over in Ireland where puppy farming for profit is quite prolific. Not much else is known about her early life but it’s not hard to imagine the horrors that she went through as a breeding machine.
Beau suffers with a condition called ‘Shut Down Syndrome.’ This is characterised by the feeling of hopelessness in a dog usually as a result of emotional trauma. Instead of displaying the typical fight or flight response, shut down dogs essentially give up as they feel like they can’t escape anymore. They often avoid eye contact, are unresponsive and are stoic, not displaying emotion or pain.
Beau thankfully didn’t take long to recover from her ordeal. She still exhibits symptoms from time-to-time but is otherwise a happy and healthy dog. Her favourite thing to do is go on walks and meet other dogs!
Belle was the last dog to join the family in 2018. She is also a Shih Tzu rescued by Many Tears Animal Rescue from a puppy farm, this time in Wales. Belle was too used to breed from although it appears she wasn’t such a good mother as the farm attempted to get rid of her at a younger age. She has clearly suffered the most mentally from her experience as she is by far the most nervous and still exhibits symptoms today.
Belle’s biggest fear by far is men and she will attempt to hide or run away from any male that comes near her. There is also a scar from a cigarette burn on the back of her neck. Belle didn’t know how to be a dog at all when she was rescued and spent the first two nights in her foster home hiding behind the garden shed. We had to completely start again with her training, teaching her to walk on lead, to sleep in a dog bed and most importantly to learn to trust humans again.
Unfortunately, there is still a little way to go with Belle and the truth is she may never trust all humans again but who could blame her after her treatment? However the happy wiggle dance she does the minute she hears us come downstairs in the morning and the huge tail wag and grin on her face when she’s able to run freely off lead is enough to fill our eyes with happy tears.
So that is the story of our three. Do you have a rescue dog? Please share with us their story in the comments below!
Co-owner of All the B's