If you have, or are planning to have, a multi-pet household, one of the first things to consider will be the breed of dog you want. Some breeds of dog are friendlier than other breeds and include poodles, beagles, cavalier spaniels, and retrievers. These breeds, among many others, will be more likely to accept another dog or pet in the home, while other breeds may present some problems. Always remember that all dogs are individuals and you will find variation in personality in all breeds.
Some dog breeds were developed to participate in dog fights and these breeds may be best in single-pet households – pit bulldog, Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, and Akita are all dog breeds that have a high level of dog-to-dog aggression, and they are often aggressive to other pets as well.
While some hunting dogs, such as Labrador or Golden Retrievers are calm dogs that will accept all pets, some breeds still have a high prey drive and will hunt and chase smaller pets in the home, such as cats, rabbits, and Guinea pigs. Afghan hounds and Dachshunds will never be trustworthy around smaller pets, and this should not be held against them, it is simply their innate nature.
If you are bringing a dog into a household where there are already cats, or are adopting a cat, you should remember that the cat will probably be terrified of the dog, regardless of the dog’s docility. Some dogs have absolutely no interest in bothering cats, while others will look forward to a good chase. However, except in extreme cases, it shouldn’t be difficult to get your dog and cat to at least be respectful of one another.
A puppy, naturally, will be easier to train to accept a cat. Because the personality of the pup is still developing, familiarity with cats at an early age will lessen the chances that the adult dog will act aggressively towards them.
Regardless of the age of your dog, however, keep the dog and cat separated to begin with. The cat will probably be frightened of the dog and must be allowed to become accustomed gradually to it. Keeping the animals in separate rooms, but allowing them to sniff at one another through a gate is a good way to promote tolerance, and hopefully friendship.
When the cat and dog actually meet face to face, have both of them on a leash, they will be much easier to control. Make sure that you reward with treats for good behavior, and don’t bother yelling if things go wrong, it will only make the situation more emotionally charged.
If the pets involved will be two dogs, keep in mind that dogs of the same sex are less likely to get along than opposites. A male and a female dog will be more likely to become friends than two females, and two males may actually fight.
The size of the dog will also have a bearing on how the adjustment will go, regardless of whether you are introducing a puppy or kitten. Regardless of how friendly and tolerant the dog may be, large or giant dogs can inadvertently harm smaller pets when trying to play with them.
Dogs can be taught to accept and even be friendly to ferrets, birds, rabbits, and other small pets, but still should never be left alone with them. You should always cage small animals if they are going to be alone with the dog when you are not present.
As it has been scientifically proven that dogs have the same set of emotions that humans do, and that their brains respond in the same way, it’s not too surprising that jealousy is among the emotions dogs can feel. Dogs have been living with humans for tens of thousands of years and have shaken off much of their old canine loyalties and transferred them to people.
Some dogs are so attached to their owners that they will even be jealous of inanimate objects, in much the same way that a child may become jealous of the telephone if mother talks on it too much. Never make light of jealousy in a dog, especially in a large breed, as it can result in attacks on people or other pets.
Proper socialization is helpful in circumventing jealousy – when the dog sees the owner in a number of different situations, it will become accustomed to ‘sharing’. Make sure that the dog receives a treat and a vocal reinforcement when he or she behaves properly. If jealousy problems have already developed, take steps immediately to remedy them. Give more attention to the jealous dog when interacting with the other pet or person, and be lavish with praise when things go well.
There will be times when your efforts to curb jealousy are unavailing, and at this point you should speak to your vet or a canine behaviorist.