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My Pet World: Reader takes right steps toward dog, cat introductions

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

We just took in a five-year-old dog from a family friend who could not keep him anymore. All is going somewhat well, but he does not get along with my three-year-old cat at all. We have tried to introduce them with him being held back on a leash, but he constantly keeps going after the cat. The cat pays the dog no mind. But the dog doesn't seem to be improving at all. It has only been about three weeks, but some of my research suggests this may never change. Are there any tips or suggestions you may have on how to get the dog to just be able to live in the same house with my cat? -- Graig, West Babylon, NY

Dear Graig,

I applaud you for keeping the new dog on the leash these last few weeks. I know it's inconvenient to "walk" the dog around the house, but it gives the dog and cat time to get to know each other without the dog chasing and scaring the cat.

In addition, use a baby gate around the house to keep the dog from chasing the cat. The baby gate provides the dog and cat some much-needed nose-to-nose time, which can help further cement their friendship. Animals learn a lot through scent.

At the same time, reinforce "sit" and "stay" commands with your new dog all throughout the day, so he learns to listen to you. He doesn't have to love the cat (and vice versa), they just need to respect each other.

Once they are comfortable together, keep the leash on the collar for a few more days, so you can grab it, if needed. If after all this, the dog is still acting like he wants to hurt the cat, then you may have to re-home the dog. But generally, if the dog is just anxious and highly-interested in the cat, and not growling and showing signs of aggression, they should eventually learn to get along.

Dear Cathy,

We have a three-year-old domestic cat. She has always had a picky appetite, and has times of affection and aloofness. We recently acquired a rag doll kitten. For the last month, our older cat's appetite and playfulness have diminished appreciably. The two of them interact very minimally; the older cat seems to allow the kitten to have the run of the house. Basically, we would just like to bring back her personality. Any tips? -- Mike, Newington, CT

Dear Mike,

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