What does this mean?
A dog labeled “cat trainable” (CT) has shown us a low prey-drive. This means that even if they show some interest in small animals in indoor settings, they have been correctable with a verbal “uh-oh” or a mild tug on the leash. Few dogs are disinterested in small animals in outdoor settings.
Some of our CT dogs have been fostered in homes with cats. Others have simply been tested and observed around small animals, as the foster home doesn’t have cats.
What can I expect of a CT dog?
A CT dog, even one that has lived in a foster home with a cat, is not trained to live with every single cat in the world! However, the dog has demonstrated to us that he or she is highly likely to be able to live in a home with cats, or other small animals. Of course, our adopters must continue the training we have started.
How do I train my dog to live peacefully with my cat?
The dog’s muzzle, lead, and crate are going to be your best friends for many weeks (to months.) Intelligent as these dogs are, it will take some time for the dog and cat to get to know each other, and recognize each other as individuals. In the meantime, your paramount responsibility is preventing any interaction that could be dangerous to the dog and cat, and provide the wrong lesson to either.
For the first week or two, keep both the muzzle and the leash on the dog.
Why a leash? You can control all interaction with the leash. The leash will also prevent your dog from running after the cat. If you can, try to get your cat to be as mellow as possible around the dog.
Why a muzzle? The muzzle will ensure that any rough play will not injure your cat. It is an easy and humane way to help equalize the big size difference between them. And the dogs are used to them.
Once things are going well (the dog and cat ignore each other), continue, for several weeks, to use either the muzzle or the lead when the dog is outside the crate. If the cat does occasionally run, the leash may be the best choice. Once the two have been interacting in a fashion you are very comfortable with for at least a few days, you can move on to using just the muzzle. Even when you are doing without either, the dog should be supervised , or crated when unattended, for the first few months.
The biggest cause for failure? Rushing this process. Remember – this is a lesson that will serve for years to come – give yourself and your dog the time to get it right.
The bottom line
There is no way for anyone to create a foster dog that will walk in and adjust perfectly to a home they have never been in, and to people and animals they have only begun to interact with. What Greyhound Welfare can do is start them along a process; this, in itself, is a big help to our adopters.
With careful avoidance of potentially dangerous situations, and encouragement of desirable behavior, our CT dogs usually adjust well to living with cats within a month or two. Does this seem long? Keep in mind that most of us will have our adopted dogs for ten years or so.