Dear Dr. Diane,
I want to get a dog at our local shelter but I’d like to find one that will get along with our cats. Are there any clues in a dog’s behavior that might tell me if he would get along with cats well or could be trained to get along with cats?
There are definitely ways that you can determine if a dog dislikes cats. First and foremost, research breeds and breed characteristics of dogs that you are thinking about adopting. Research breed compatibility with cats.
Secondly, find out as much as you can about your particular potential adoptee from shelter staff and volunteers. They and you together can walk the dog by the cat area and see if he lunges, barks, growls or displays any other aggressive or antisocial behavior towards cats.
If he is generally disinterested in them, there is a great likelihood that he is not out to get them. Spend time with your potential adoptee and consistently walk him by the cat area. If he seems as though he is indifferent to them, more than likely, he is.
And, of course, your dog can be praised and verbally rewarded when he behaves well with cats when he is at his new home. Encourage your kitties to behave well and courteously with your new dog. Do everything you can to encourage your dog’s polite, courteous and gentle behavior to your cats.
Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.
For More Information on Dr. Pomerance: