Can I Get a Protection Dog if I Have a Cat?

13 September 2023

Cats and dogs are two of the most popular household pets in America. While they are often able to live happily together, this is not always the case, and we are often contacted by potential clients interested in getting a protection dog but are unsure if it can live alongside other pets, especially cats. In our experience, this is can be possible, but requires careful management and consideration.

Bringing any dog into a household with cats will require a delicate balancing act. Both animals have unique behaviours and temperaments which may lead to conflict. In dogs’ cases, this is most likely to be a prey drive which will make them want to chase and demonstrate other hunting behaviours on cats. Protection dogs are specifically trained to behave in a certain way, and this will also have to be factored for. Conversely, cats may have a strong dislike for dogs!

Successful integration becomes far more likely when a cat and dog can be gradually introduced to each other in a controlled manner and setting. Abrupt introductions could be stressful, fear-inducing, and build negative associations with both animals. Introductions best take place in calm and neutral environments neither animal would “claim” as their own with safe spaces or easy exits in case they become anxious. Safety is imperative, and we would always recommend that a dog is kept on a lead and initially muzzled during a first encounter.

If the first encounter is positive, then more can be planned until you are confident that your cat and potential dog will accept and be safe with each other. Cats and dogs can also be trained to behave appropriately in each other’s presence, and this can even reduce or negate a high prey drive when done correctly. This will be an ongoing effort, though, and require longstanding commitment to be effective. It is also important to ensure that both animals have separate “safe spaces” where they can rest and relax away from each other.

At Protection Dogs Worldwide, we spend months getting to know our dogs while training them before they join their family. Part of our environmental conditioning involves exposing dogs to other animals, including cats. Before selling a dog, we will know how it is likely to respond to other animals, and always ask potential clients if it will be living with another pet.

Where we place dogs is as governed by their own needs and characteristics as well as those of a client, so compatibility with other pets is just one of many considerations we factor for. Our own protection dogs happily live alongside a pet cat, so we know these kinds of arrangements are possible. Our trainers have advised many potential clients on how their protection dog can live with a pet cat, and if this is something you are interested in, please email [email protected].


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