It’s been over two years since I rescued Baylie; a great pyrenees/border collie mix. She has grown from four pounds to ninety pounds, and I don’t thinks she is done yet. My biggest concern when I brought Baylie into the home was how my cat, Smoki, would adjust to the new addition. I now can say, Smoki, weighing in at just under ten pounds, and I have established ourselves as the alpha dogs of the pack. It didn’t happen overnight. It took months of patience and diligence on our part.
Smoki, at twelve years of age, didn’t quite know what to think of Baylie when she arrived on the scene but one thing for certain, she wanted no part of this odd creature. Even though in the beginning Baylie was much smaller than Smoki, I knew the groundwork had to be set to bring cohesiveness between the two since Baylie would grow to be a very large dog. It took repetitive slaps to the face and a lot of fat tails and hissing by Smoki to put her into hierarchy status over Baylie.
In the beginning, each time Smoki would move, Baylie would give chase; not out of aggression but because she was curious and wanted to play. Smoki finally reached her limit and said “enough, if you need me, I’ll be outdoors until bedtime.” I felt incredibly guilty as I, literally, had to bribe Smoki with her favorite treats to coax her back inside for the night as she would run from me with that look in her eyes that said, “please don’t take me back in there”. I literally had to stalk and hunt her down each night. After all, Smoki was here first, and it made me sad that she no longer wanted to run and play indoors. I knew something had to change if we were going to be a house united rather than a house divided. I came to the realization that after I had done all I knew to do and researched every method possible to bring cohesiveness between the two, ultimately, I had to allow them to work it out. They will establish their own boundaries. I found that the first six months of Baylie being with us, my vocabulary consisted mostly of one word sentences; stop, don’t, quit, sit. When that didn’t work in regard to the cat, I moved up to two words; leave it; in reference to the cat and had better results.
I began training Baylie with the “leave it” command she learned in puppy training class. When she would give chase to Smoki, I would re-enforce “leave it” and redirect her attention. In the beginning, Smoki would retreat under the bed or on top of the dresser in the master bedroom at the sight of Baylie; no longer comfortable to play or roam about the house. Little by little, that changed.
Our friends at DogTipper, told us that another excellent way to bring cat and dog together is by giving them treats; side by side. You want them to associate being together brings about good things. I accomplished this by bringing them both into the kitchen and rewarding them with treats. This brought them in closer proximity to one another than they had previously experienced. I also made sure that Smoki stayed indoors more while Baylie was inside with me and provided her with plenty of vertical spaces in case she became stressed with Baylie’s rambunctious self; but never leaving them unattended. Once Smoki had established her no-touch field of about a three-foot radius that Baylie should not cross, she began to resume her normal routine around the house. It’s comical now to watch. If Baylie doesn’t have the three-foot clearance to walk by Smoki, she will either sit and wait until Smoki moves, or she will take a detour. Don’t get me wrong, Smoki still prefers the house to herself. When Baylie is outdoors Smoki lets her hair down; taking on a different personality running around with her tail straight in the air, sliding on the hardwood floors in her hide and seek mode . When the dog is away, the cat will play.
Our ah ha moment came when I looked into the master bedroom and couldn’t believe my eyes, Smoki and Baylie were lying on the bed together. Smoki no longer hides under the bed but rather stands her ground unless Baylie gets really loud and obnoxious. Why is usually a daily occurrence.
If you share your home with both a dog and cat, you have seen the death stare between the two. I don’t quite know what type subliminal message they are transmitting, but it couldn’t be good. So, if I notice Smoki and Baylie sitting in a trance with their eyes fixated, I break it up.
I don’t expect to ever see Smoki and Baylie snuggling or playfully tussling on the floor as you often see dogs and cats that have grown up together, but I’ll gladly accept the level of cohesiveness we have attained. The biggest mistake one can make is to force the two together. Only bad things can come from this.There is no “quick fix”, only time, patience and repetitive reinforcement will render positive results when introducing another pet into your home.