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Behaviour FAQ

How do I introduce my new dog to my cat?

Firstly don’t worry, it can be done. You just need to make sure that introducing this new family member to your cat happens in a calm, controlled way. This helps them both to feel at home.

Try using an indoor pen for the initial 'hello' – keeping your dog in the pen with his food, water, bed and some favourite toys. Put the pen in the busiest part of your house. That way your dog can get used to all the normal comings and goings, and your cat will get the chance to investigate at his own pace.

When they both seem more used to each other's presence, try feeding your cat outside the pen while your dog has his food inside. It’ll help them grow more comfortable with closer contact.

Next, try calmly introducing them without the pen. It’s a good idea to have someone else around to help with the first few meetings. Gently restrain your dog and allow him and your cat to get a good look and sniff at each other. Use food as a distraction if things start to turn less than friendly.

Over the next few days, bring your dog out of his pen more frequently and let him have a good look around. As the two housemates become friends, you can increase the contact between them but keep supervising for a while. They both need access to safe places if they start to feel threatened.

Be patient, and after a while they should be getting along famously in a relaxed and happy relationship.

My dog, although toilet trained, has started soiling indoors – what can I do?

It’s quite common for an adult dog to have the occasional mishap in the house. But if it’s happening to him frequently, there could be an underlying problem.

Firstly, check that he’s still got access to his usual toilet area – if not, there’s your answer.

Sometimes an older dog can lose a bit of bladder control. And arthritis can make mobility more difficult, so if you have steps to your garden, perhaps these are slowing him down. If you’re at all concerned about your dog’s mobility or you think there could be a medical reason for his mishaps, do talk to your vet. Usually, the situation can be managed very successfully.

There are a few behavioural causes that could explain things, including :

  • Submissive urination
  • Stress
  • A slight hiccup in toilet training
  • Territorial marking
  • Separation anxiety

Again, there’s a lot you can do to overcome these difficulties and get him back on track. Talk to your vet or contact The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors on 01386 751151.

And always swiftly clean any area where your dog has had an accident using a biological washing powder and warm water. Otherwise he might mark that spot and, quite naturally for a dog, use it again and again!

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