Is a dog a dog’s best friend?


Or, contrary to popular belief, is your dog great pals with your cat?

We know that the unshakeable bond between a human and their dog is incredibly strong and mutually rewarding, but how do dogs get on with other pets?

Let’s delve into the world of dogs and their non-human relationships!


Getting along with other dogs at home


Many people have more than one dog in their household. Dogs are generally pretty good at getting on with each other but, if they’re not, you can try to get to the bottom of the issue and sort it out.

It might be that you pet one dog, and your other dog growls, or you put their food bowls down and one dog snaps at the other.

Stress can be a trigger for dogs attacking each other, for example redirecting their heightened emotion when the doorbell rings. For some dogs, being excited can switch to aggression.

Feeding time can be another point of conflict, so make sure you feed them separately and pick up their bowls afterwards. It’s also a good idea to only give them treats when they are apart.

Introducing a new dog into your home is bound to take time for the pack to adjust to the new pecking order, so be patient and mindful that the old dog/s and the new are getting used to each other.

Paying more attention to one of your dogs can be a cause of jealousy for some dogs, and cause them to growl when they see you making a fuss of another dog.

Confined spaces, or a narrow hallway, can be a trigger for volatility, as small areas can cause excitement that can lead to aggression.

If your dogs are having some conflict, it’s worth checking if they are getting enough enrichment, as they might be bored. Pain or illness could be another reason for a dog being snappy or antisocial.


How to improve your dogs’ relationship


Firstly, if you’ve noticed your dogs aren’t being friendly with each other, don’t just leave them to work it out, as the problem could quickly escalate. It’s always better to nip things in the bud if you can.

The easiest fix could just be making sure they’re getting enough exercise. A tired dog is generally more mellow and less likely to have an energy burst that could turn to aggression.

Separating your dogs using baby gates or crates can help to maintain calm whilst you’re trying to modify your dogs’ behaviour using positive training. Your training practice will help them to understand and respond to your cues, and it will also give your dogs mental stimulation. Keep it gentle, and give lots of praise and rewards.

If one of your dogs starts snapping or growling at your other dog, or at you, for apparently no reason, then it’s a good idea to take them to the vet in case they’re in pain and are just signalling that they want everyone to leave them alone.

Nutritional deficiencies can also cause aggression, so make sure they’re eating a decent diet and talk to a veterinary dietician to see if supplements may help.

Of course, bringing in an expert dog trainer or behaviourist could be really useful in observing your dogs’ behaviour and identifying issues and solutions.


What about feline friends?


Cats and dogs are very different species, that have each evolved for their own purposes, and they both have their own unique relationship with humans.

The well-worn phrase ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ is sometimes true, but there are also many examples of cats and dogs having loving and kind relationships.

Many households have a dog and a cat living together so it’s important to be aware of potential issues, and to know what to do if they arise.

The most common issue tends to be a dog chasing a cat, and the best way to overcome this is for the owner to give the dog obedience training, teaching them to use self-control. You could use the command ‘Leave it’ and, with the dog on the lead, teach it to ignore the cat.

Other problems will be because of specific compatibility issues, for example if the dog is too playful and the cat is too scared, or the dog has a strong prey drive, or the cat is defensive and aggressive and the dog doesn’t know how to react.

Having separate areas in the home for your pets can be helpful. And, if you have a choice about which new pets to introduce into your home, matching their personalities, if you can, should improve harmony – a playful or tolerant cat will generally get on better with a playful or tolerant dog.


How about rabbits?


Whilst some dogs and rabbits can be friends, it all depends on the dog’s natural prey drive. Your dog must have a low prey drive, and definitely not have any interest in chasing or killing wildlife.

A low prey dog will be one that is always gentle with other animal species, even when they’re playing.

You also need your dog to have a calm and submissive character, to be able to follow basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’ and ‘leave it’, and they must be fully grown – puppies can’t control their excitable behaviour.

Generally, working dogs, herding dogs and non-sporting dog breeds should be safe, and trained or therapy dogs should be fine, but every dog is different and has its own personality, so make sure you are carefully supervising all interaction.

Avoid sporting breeds as it can be in their nature to hunt, and it’s also wise to avoid a toy breed dog if they are anxious or highly strung.

Your rabbit should be confident, outgoing, relaxed and easy-going. Don’t try to introduce a shy or scared bunny to your dog.

If you do choose to introduce your dog and your rabbit, you should take it slowly. Always make sure the rabbit is roaming freely, not inside the cage. Start with your dog lying down and on a lead, and start with a very short session, slowly building up the time they spend together.

Keep calm and patient, being consistent and using positive reinforcement. Make sure you and your rabbit are at the top of the pack hierarchy.

If they get to a point where they are established as friends, provide somewhere for them both to go if they want to escape the other, and always keep their feeding areas separate.

And never allow your dog to chase your rabbit, even when they’re playing.


Not forgetting birds, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils…


Various species of animal can co-exist surprisingly well. Whatever your combination of pets, making introductions slowly is key, and giving your pets a chance to acclimatise to each other’s scents whilst the smaller one is caged will be important for making them feel comfortable and calm.

Supervise all interaction and keep vigilant. You might see your dog and guinea pig curled up companionably in no time!


Apologies for ending this article on a sombre note but…


At the end of the day, animals can be unpredictable and you need to trust your instincts. If you get a feeling that something might be wrong, you need to protect the smaller animal and consider whether it’s viable to keep both in the same house. If you have to keep them permanently separated, that is a huge responsibility and the potential consequences of taking your eye off the ball for a split second would be every loving pet owner’s worst nightmare.



This article is brought to you by Cherish Studios, passionate dog lovers sharing helpful tips and advice with our fellow dog lovers. For medical advice, please speak to a trained vet.


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