Golden Retrievers are known for being fun-loving and goofy. They are awesome with kids of all ages, and they are loyal companions to adults, but are these dogs good with cats? The short answer is yes, they are! At least most of them are. Like with anything in life, there are always exceptions to the rule. Golden Retrievers are naturally gentle and love to make new animal friends, even if that means befriending a cat.
This does not mean that you should leave your Golden Retriever to their own devices when it comes to meeting a new cat for the first time and to learning how to live with a cat in the same household. Here is what you should know about introducing a new family cat to your Golden Retriever and how to maintain a safe and peaceful household environment as time goes on.
Preparing for the Introduction
The best thing that you can do to prepare your Golden Retriever for an introduction to the family cat is to invest time and money in obedience training. It’s a good idea to find a reputable trainer to work with, but there are many books, guides, and videos online that you can use to train your dog yourself. Obedience training will help ensure that your pooch listens to you when you want them to back away from the cat or to stop an undesired behavior during the meeting.
It is important to expose your Golden Retriever to different people and animals during the training process so they develop a sociable attitude. Trips to the doggy park, visits to friends who have pets, and playdates with neighbor pets are all great options to consider. It is also a good idea to teach your dog how to gently play with furry toys instead of tearing them apart to minimize the risk that the pooch will end up seeing your new cat as prey.
Completing the Introduction
When it comes time to introduce your Golden Retriever to your new cat, start by keeping them in separate yet nearby rooms of the home. This will allow each animal to settle down and sniff out the other before actually meeting face to face. Plan to let the animals rest in their separate spaces for a couple of hours. Then, with the cat in a carrier or kennel, move both animals into the same space.
Give your dog the opportunity to sniff the kennel and the cat inside. Correct any behavior that seems aggressive or overexcited. Once the dog and cat can stay calm in the same room with the kennel acting as a barrier, take the dog to another room and let the cat out of the kennel so they can check the house out and know where all the hiding spaces are.
When you are ready, put a leash on your pooch and slowly walk them into the main part of the house where the cat is located. Allow your cat to keep the distance that they want to while keeping your dog next to you. The cat will make their way toward your dog when they are ready, so patience is necessary at this point.
If your dog lunges at the cat or acts aggressive in any way when the cat comes nearby, immediately correct the behavior and pull the dog back a little. If the behavior continues, put the dog in another room and wait a day before trying the introduction again. Eventually, the dog and cat will sniff and explore each other in a calm manner.
This is when you should be able to take off the leash and let the animals learn how to cohabitate. It is important to separate the animals whenever you will not be there to supervise (even when you sleep) until you are positive that they can spend time together without any problems. The dog should be fully mature and the cat calm and confident before they can be alone together.
Even if your Golden Retriever and cat are getting along well, there may be times when things get shaky for one reason or another. For example, a chasing game can turn into a hunting activity if the chase gets out of control. Therefore, it is a good idea to discourage chase play between the dog and cat.
A little running around the living room or following each other through the house should not be a problem. But once your dog starts chasing the cat to their hiding spots, it is a good idea to stop the behavior and redirect the dog’s attention to another type of gameplay. The cat will likely redirect their own behavior to another activity in the meantime.
It is also important to make sure that ongoing training is a priority for your Golden Retriever. The training will serve as a reminder of how to properly behave around their cat companion. Your cat can be trained too, but this is not necessary when it comes to the camaraderie between your two pets. Cats generally keep to themselves and are not likely to chase dogs around the house or cause problems through antagonization.
Having both a Golden Retriever and a cat living in the household together can be fun and help strengthen bonds among all family members in the household. The introduction period takes commitment and patience, but the work will be well worth it in the end. Any age of Golden Retriever can be introduced to a cat, but sooner is better.
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