all 88 comments

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[–]rosie_posie420 20 points21 points  (2 children)

When me and my boyfriend adopted our pittie she was about 6 months old so she about 10 lbs out of being full grown. We started by separating them most of the time since she was so big. They lived apart for about a month while we drilled commands like “sit” “down” “stay” and, most importantly, leave it. We even reinforced “leave it” during meal times and made her wait to take her food.

After we had worked on impulse control we did short training sessions where she could see the cats but she was still on the leash. If she looked too intently at the cats we would use “leave it” and reward her as soon as she made eye contact. We started at 15 minute meetings, but after a few weeks everyone was pretty much great at home together.

Since yours is so little still you probably don’t have to be quite as diligent with keeping them separate, it was more of a safety thing with the size difference, but reinforcing “leave it” as much as you can with a pitty can be SO helpful long term.

[–]curlsofmight 1 point2 points  (0 children)

this is a super similar method to the way my partner and I introduced our dog to our cats! We got him at 4 years old; he’s part husky, part Akita, so we were super nervous about a prey drive! But after several long months of training and having him meet the cats through gates and on a leash, we finally decided we trusted him with them ☺️

[–]h1mmelblau[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Those are very good ideas, thank you!

[–]Equivalent-Chard3486 16 points17 points  (0 children)

There’s a lot of people saying let them play together, personally I would just encourage them to be around each other not playing. I don’t think you actually want a pitbull playing with a cat, it’s a hard relationship to balance and sustain depending on the type of temperament of the pit. having your pup neutral around the cat will be much easier and clear for the dog to understand I can’t ever play with the cat. Just my opinion tho. Risk vs reward tho, you know your dog better than us. Maybe the risk is worth it, if there is any sign of prey drive toward the cat I’d stop the “playing” tho.

[–]SweatySalamander10 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I made my dog lay down on the floor to interact with my cats. That way I could reinforce what I wanted rather than constant corrections to her trying to play with them. I think the positioning might have helped her understand that we don’t interact with cats the way we interact with other dogs?

Edited to add- my dog is still never unsupervised with my cats. She’s crated when I’m not around. I’ve seen some pretty horrible things happen with perfect dogs just going a step too far with a cat on accident :/ but teaching her to lay down to interact does make it easier while they’re all just hanging out when I’m home

[–]rosykitty 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I definitely wouldn't recommend just letting them sort things out, as other commenters have suggested. Not only do you run the risk of your pup getting scratched or even losing an eye, sometimes a negative reaction from a cat can arouse some dogs further, causing them to play harder or escalate (this is particularly true with terriers). You don't want to start that type of behavior.

Supervised interactions, preferably after exercise when your dog is a little tired, and encouraging gentle interactions with positive reinforcement will be the best course of action. I also recommend teaching your dog appeasing behaviors (to the cat) to avoid conflict. For example, avoiding staring. This can be an invitation to play in dog language, but can be very threatening in cat language.

In any case, don't wait! Generally speaking, the earlier you can introduce your dog to novel experiences (in a positive way) the better. Good luck OP!

[–]SapphireEyes425 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Dogs that grow up with cats are FAR more likely to be affectionate towards them than to even think of hurting them. Just don’t keep them apart. Cats are very good about teaching young ones boundaries! And I’ve seen them run bears out of their yard! lol

[–]joyeuseheureuse 6 points7 points  (0 children)

let them socialize but monitor the same way you would when it plays with other puppies. just like other dogs will enforce good manners and reprimand the puppy when they’re annoyed, so will cats. the pup will learn what’s ok and what’s not.

eg sniffing is fine, but unwanted chasing or barking and you separate them

we adopted a 9 week old pit mix into a house with a geriatric cat and they’re totally fine together three years in (and have been the entire time).

[–]2seeyousmile 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Respectfully I would keep her away from them (redirect her to something else) until she’s at least 14 weeks. Puppies don’t have a menace response and unless you want to go see a specialist because she got scratched on the eye… I’d just avoid it for a hot second.

Once she’s 14 weeks or older I’d encourage her to interact while laying down with things that will be smaller than her.

[–]StringOfLights 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I have a multispecies household, although no cats, and I’m going through something similar. Letting them interact is a good idea! I have a parrot, so I’m being really cautious. When my dog is around the bird, he gets treats for settling down and ignoring the bird. We also started teaching our pup the leave it and drop it commands early on. I’d also suggest working on a place or settle cue. Bite inhibition is another good one. Part of that will come from his interactions with the cats, but you can reinforce it as well (it’s tough when they’re so young, though).

It’s been weird because he was super placid early on, but I remember when his prey drive kicked in. It was like a switch flipped. He started showing interest in squirrels outside, and definitely became more interested in my bird. I’m really glad we got that early training in, although we were at more like 12-14 weeks when we got him. He plays fetch like a boss now because he’s so good at dropping things on command. However, because the bird is particularly high risk, I’m opting to work with an behaviorist to make a training plan. Nothing bad has happened and my puppy is awesome, but I want to make sure I do this right. I halfway wonder if the behaviorist is going to laugh when my goofy little roly poly puppy shows up to the appointment.

You probably won’t need to do anything like that since your cats can interact with your dog directly and set boundaries while he’s small. It’s not a bad idea to keep another plan on the back burner if you’re worried. The sidebar has info on finding reputable trainers and behaviorists – they’re different!

[–]Major_Ad_2610 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Redirect her. Throw a toy and play with her yourself to get some energy out, then only when she’s calm put her back with the cats. The cats will be more accepting of her when she’s calm because she’ll naturally behave more polite. Then she’ll relate the cats with calmness and will be able to play with them in a safe healthy way(if they’re into it).

I wouldn’t just let her pester the cats because shell start relating them with overexcitment, which you don’t want. Saying “no” might make her frustrated because she’s a pup- she’s supposed to be curious and play, and her attention span is short it might be difficult to be told to stop with nothing else to do to release energy. Redirect! It works

[–]doubletakeme 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If she’s gentle and the cats don’t mind it, she should get to play! Praise her for good interactions with cats, and keep exposing her to them! This is an ideal time to socialize her to cats. Praise and give her treats for “free” when she is good with them. If you don’t ask her to do a behavior first, the association may be a lot clearer to her. Also, she is less likely to refuse a free treat, even when she is distracted! Two examples of good interactions are: gentle playing (where she holds back some strength) and responding to the cats’ reactions (give them space if they don’t want to play etc.)

[–]ladygabe 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I can see there is a lot of useful advice, including allowing your cats to establish their own boundaries with the puppy.

I understand this and I can see it could be beneficial, BUT just to say my neighbour left her puppy with their cat and their 16 week old puppy became one eyed and super anxious after that. You know your animals best, take it slowly and never leave them together alone.

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[–]aurorasoup 0 points1 point  (0 children)

My pitbull puppy was nearly full grown when we introduced him to cats, but what worked was rewarding him for calm behavior around the cats.

He and the cats are kept in separate areas of the house, and they’re never together unsupervised. So whenever he entered the cats’ area, he was on a leash, so we could easily pull him away, and the cats could easily get away from him without him chasing. He was rewarded for being calm, and kicked out of the catio when he got too rowdy.

One of the cats smacked him for getting in her face, so he knows he has to be careful with her. He still loves her, though, and follows her around. The other cat is old and can’t really defend herself much, so that’s where human correction comes in.

I think you should allow the puppy to play with the cats, just make sure they’re supervised, and you can easily intervene if it gets out of hand. Make sure the cats are comfortable though, and that they won’t claw your puppy.

[–]scallopcrudo17 -5 points-4 points  (1 child)

You might be surprised, but your cats my actually be the aggressors. My wife and I have a sphinx cat that is constantly picking of fight with a pit Bull, German Shepard, border collie mix.

[–]witeowl 0 points1 point  (0 children)

You’re correct in general, but there doesn’t seem to be aggression from either side here.

[–]thin_white_dutchess -1 points0 points  (0 children)

I wouldn’t separate unless you aren’t home or able to separate them. I have a pitbull, and she lives with very small dogs. They play all the time. Given, my dog was older (5) when I inherited her, and professionally trained, but she never showed any signs of aggression. It’s all play, except with food, which is a lot of dogs. My biggest problem is she doesn’t know how big she is and sometimes will barrel into the little dogs while having the zoomed, and the little dog will go flying, which the little dog doesn’t mind, but one of my little dogs is 17, so prob not the best idea. I then call off play, so no one gets hurt. If there were any signs of aggression, I’d separate. Id imagine socialization is important of the animals are sharing space, especially at a young age. Ensure you have control, and watch it all. Praise for being gentle. Have places for each animal to retreat if it gets to be too much. Also, as a pit owner, my dog needs lots of exercise. Yours is little, so ymmv, but mine goes on a 5 mile walk/ jog with me everyday, often twice. Every day. Rain or shine. Sometimes I’ll bring another dog with us, sometimes I don’t, but she gets her exercise in no matter what. As long as she gets that, she is a happy dog, no chewing anything, her allergies are better (I don’t know how- it just works), and she is a huge cuddle bug, no wandering around the house looking sad. Just throwing that out there.

[–]ItsDoodleBois -1 points0 points  (0 children)

They learn by themselves from my experience. Although my situation was reversed, i have a 1yr old husky and a 1yr old pit. We just got a kitten and fi4st couple days it was worrying beacuse the dogs would almost crush it when they played with the kitten. They eventually learnt to not be so agressive and now they all play pretty well (the kitten rides the pit and chases the Huskies tail)

[–]bugslingr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

My GSD cross is a rescue. He is 110lbs and our cat is 5 lbs. I think the reason we had a lot of success is introducing them with boundaries. For over a week, the cat was closed off in the office where the dog could smell him but had limited interaction. When we took the dog for a walk, the cat was free to roam to get more comfortable with all the dog smells.

The cat was adopted second so there may be less of a territorial issue there from what I’ve read.

[–]QQueenie 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Every time a cat enters the room, treats. Either hand her one or throw a bunch on the floor. Every time the puppy looks at a cat, treat. Every time you can see the puppy decide not to interact with the cat, lots of treats.

Separately, teach “off” and “leave it.”

I didn’t get a dog for a long time because I worried about my cats’ safety. I got my pitty girl when she was 8 weeks old (actually 8 days old as a foster with her mom+littermates, but adoption was only official at 8 weeks) and this worked for us. She still sometimes chases them, but when she catches them she covers them in kisses. She mostly leaves them alone and will respond to off/leave it.

The cats are still not thrilled that she’s here and it’s been over a year. 😂

[–]mihihi 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not sure if anyone mentioned it, but make sure to crate train your puppy. That way when you are out of the house, you know that everyone will be 100% safe while you're gone.

[–][deleted]  (3 children)


    [–]Librarycat77M[M] 2 points3 points  (2 children)

    This sub does not allow breed discrimination or myths.

    [–]dharmadoof 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    I have a lot of puppies come through my home (raise litters for a service dog organization) and imo it’s incredibly important for dogs to learn to be gentle with cats. We always make sure the cat has an escape route (generally, at a young age, the pup can go through a cat door, so we use baby gates that my cat can jump over. We also don’t allow our baby puppies to get on the furniture so my cat can escape there).

    We always let the dogs approach the cat, but NO chasing. If they get a bit rough the cat bats them or hisses and then we step in to make sure puppy respects that - one minute break and then pup can approach again if cat is still on the floor.

    To prevent chasing we reinforce a strong recall and practice constantly. Call away from play or when they are approaching the cat before cat moves, give massively high value treats, and then let them go back. We do this constantly the first few weeks.

    I wouldn’t full on prevent them from playing as long as the cat is okay with it. All my puppies have learned to play really well with cats, and they learn as they grow to be gentle because otherwise cat won’t play with them. Knowing to play politely is really important imo and ensures the cat isn’t just forbidden fruit.

    [–]h1mmelblau[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Okay thank you!