Cats and dogs, is your home a war zone

Some of you out there have seen the zany film, “Cats and Dogs.” It is perfect for a lot of laughs over stylized antics in the classic war of “cat vs dog” if you are in the mood for something completely silly and off the wall.

But on a serious note, many dog owners who also have cats under the same roof really do seem to have a cat vs. dog war going on daily. It is scary when you do not know how to make Dog Spike and Cat Mike coexist.

Will Spike really hurt Mike? Or does Spike just chase and pester him?

What if Mike scratches Spike? Will things escalate?

What to do?

The truth about cats and dogs who were not raised together is that you may never be able to make them love each other. But here’s a step-by-step process for at least bringing peace, a détente of sorts, into your home, and to protect each pet from the ravages of attack.

The first step is for you (Dog Spike’s pack leader) to tell Spike that Mike is now part of the pack. Put Spike on a leash with the leash on the most sensitive part of the neck, the way they do in dog shows.

Crate the cat (never the dog for this). You cannot accomplish your goal if they are both in pet crates. That just results in a classic cat dog face off – a barking and hissing match.

Crating is especially important if the cat has a tendency to move away or scratches. You cannot let the cat run away from the situation. Running away encourages a chase, and certainly does not encourage a harmonious pack!

Sit or lie Spike down beside the crated Mike. Correct Spike with a firm (not harsh) pull UP on the leash, if he lunges at Mike or becomes fixated on him. If Mike scratches or hisses at Spike, correct him, too, but with something like a water pistol.

Move the cat’s crate toward Spike and take his leash off. What you are teaching Spike to do is to ignore the cat and to respect him.

Next time, repeat the first part of making Spike sit or lie down by the crate. This time, do not make the cat (crate) come to him. Instead, make him lie down beside the crate, off leash, until he stays there with his head turned away. Acceptance with avoidance.

When Spike is cool as a cucumber around Mike, take the cat out of the crate and put a lead on him so he cannot run. (Still have Spike on leash, and pull up on the leash if he makes a mistake.)

If Spike lunges, no panic. Simply put the cat back in the crate and make Spike sit or lie down next to it, all over again.

Finally, with Cat Mike out of the crate but on leash, bring leashed Dog Spike to him and make the dog lie down. Correct the cat with a water pistol if he hisses or scratches at the dog. Stay there until the cat has accepted Spike, even if the cat is sullen and pouting a bit.

Do this as a step-by-step process, nice and easy. Before long, the classic battle between cats and dogs will be over in you home. Spike and Mike will be peacefully co-existing.