BENGALURU: I have a dog and a cat and they have been friendly all their life. But for the past few months, the dog seems to snap at the cat and the cat slinks away. I am worried, should I keep them apart?
It is very difficult to pin point to specific reasons as to why there is a change in the behavior of the dog and the cat unless witnessed in person. But it cannot have happened without a trigger; a trigger that you need to watch for.
First thing is to always check with the vet to eliminate any discomfort due to medical reasons.
Next, step back and think about the possibilities. How are they in your absence and when you are around? Is there a common object of conflict like food or toy? Or are they both claiming you?
Dogs appreciate a stability in their hierarchy and would not appreciate boundary violations if any. If so, this can lead to dominance struggles and conflicts within, where each one is trying to secure his position. It is also possible that the dog is excessively bored and is showing his frustration by picking on the cat.
In general, conflict or otherwise you have to set the right kind of authority at home. Establish that you are the pack leader. All members of the pack are equal and are beneath you, thereby eliminating all hierarchical conflicts.
Work out a good exercise routine to channelise your dogs energy in the right direction. Even if you are walking him already, add a jog or a run or a swim to the routine. Engage him in activities that stimulate him both physically and mentally.
Meanwhile make sure the cat has a safe place away from the dog which she can resort to. Whatever may have been the initial trigger, if your cat continues to be nervous around your dog she could be instigating an attack. Make sure you do not create situations that reinforces the cats anxiety and triggers the dog. Proactively look for signs from your dog that indicate a potential snap and correct him immediately. Timely corrections are very important in fixing such issues.
Do consult a professional who can observe their behavior and help you re-establish the peaceful co-existence.
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