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Salazar: Dogs and cats can become buddies, featuring LCHS alum Dingus
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Salazar: Dogs and cats can become buddies, featuring LCHS alum Dingus

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Many dogs enter our shelter lacking proper socialization with cats.

While dogs’ natural instinct is not always to be the most affectionate toward and calm around cats, it is possible for them to still become the best of buds…with some training and patience, of course.

Dingus’ journey

One wonderful example of this is a beautiful dog named Dingus, who was adopted from the Lee County Humane Society almost exactly a year ago, on March 20, 2020.

Dingus, weighing in at a whopping 65 pounds while at the shelter, didn’t always seem like a gentle giant when it came to cats being near him! He would tug on the leash, trying to get to them and would be quite tense.

While at this point he did not seem like he could ever live in a household with a cat and act in a polite manner, the opposite could not have proven to be more true. His adopter shares, “When we brought him home, my husband and I were told that he did not get along with cats and boy was that true.”

Yet, after some time and training, Dingus has a new best friend. Turns out the adopters “took in a stray kitten last year, and after about a month, [Dingus] and the kitten got along great!” In fact, “The cat actually bullies him now!”

Dingus’ success story is inspirational and goes to prove how far dogs can come with their social and behavioral skills when humans put effort into working with them.

Tips on getting cats and dogs to become best friends

It is extremely important to go into this process understanding that it will take time. Cats and dogs will take not days, but weeks and possibly even months, to become adjusted to each other.

While your end goal is to bring the two together, one of the first steps, according to americanhumane.org, is to separate them. You may let them check each other out through a barrier, such as a door, a crate or even a gate. It is important to give them turns with who is confined and who is getting to explore and sniff around, getting used to the other’s scent.

It is important to reward good behavior throughout this process, for example, giving the dog treats when she makes eye contact with the human or sits on command.

Once they both are calm, possibly after weeks of practice, exposure to each other, and treats, you may proceed to further steps.

The next step would be to allow them to interact with each other while the dog is on a leash. As long as both animals are eating and drinking normally, along with being relaxed and not displaying any aggressive behavior, it is safe to allow them to interact off-leash.

Pet help options through LCHSAt LCHS, we try to help those who have recently brought a new pet into their home. If you visit our “Get Pet Help” tab on our official website or go straight there using the link https://www.leecountyhumane.org/after-adoption, you can find our many resources on helping the animal adjust to its new home, as well as tips on training.

If you cannot find the answer to your question there or would like more information on something, you are more than welcome to email our Pet Help email, pethelp@leecountyhumane.org, with a summary of the issues you are experiencing.

Please keep in mind that we are not licensed veterinarians, all advice given is general, and our volunteer team is unable to verify if we can take in your pet or set up appointments for owner surrender.

Column by Audrey Salazar, adoption counselor with the Lee County Humane Society.

Column by Audrey Salazar, adoption counselor with the Lee County Humane Society.

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