How do we go about Making your West Highland Terrier and cats friends; also with other pets!
Most people who love dogs also love other animals, and often have a variety of pets in the house.
Even if you don’t have any other animals, you will encounter other dogs, cats and wildlife while you are out walking your dog.
It is important to socialize your Westie as much as possible, to avoid complications and negative behaviour when your dog meets other dogs or other species.
As with most activities with dogs, a bit of advanced preparation can make the introduction much easier and have it be a positive experience for the dog, the other pet and all humans involved.
INTRODUCING YOUR WESTIE TO ANOTHER DOG
Each Westie, like each person, has its own temperament and comfort level with other dogs. There are some breeds that have been developed to be watchdogs or guard dogs, and they will naturally be more aggressive than a breed that has been bred for other reasons. Keep in mind the nature of your dogs breed.
If you are planning to add a new dog to your home it is also wise to keep in mind that spayed or neutered animals tend to get along better than intact breeding dogs. A spayed female and a neutered male will generally get along better than two males or two females.
Keep in mind that a neutered male and breeding female will act the same as a breeding pair, and both dogs can become more aggressive when the female is in heat.
The first time the dogs meet, it should be in a place that is new to both dogs; such as a park or other location. Keep the dogs on a leash but have them interact with the human they are with. Gradually move the dogs closer, but keep the attention of the dogs on the handlers. When they become comfortable move them closer.
Avoid having the dogs on very tight leashes, as this tends to excite them more and the chances of aggression increase. Handlers should remain calm and relaxed. Introducing the dogs several times before having them play together will allow them to become familiar with each other.
Be prepared for any aggression by either of the dogs. They will most likely attempt to establish which dog is dominant, and this may be done by growling, posturing or even fighting. Keep a close eye on the dogs, and have a way to separate and contain the dogs immediately if there is any aggression.
If you keep the dogs in crates, they can be placed closer together at night when both dogs are contained to allow them to become familiar with each other.
INTRODUCING YOUR WESTIE TO A CAT
Not all dogs are cat chasers, and not all cats are afraid of dogs. It is helpful if the Westie and cat are introduced when they are young, or that at least one of them is familiar with the other species. Care should be taken when introducing a puppy to a mature cat, as the cat can seriously harm the puppy with its claws.
Likewise an adult dog, even a small breed, can easily kill a kitten. Until they are safe together do not leave the dog and cat unsupervised.
More than one dog with a cat can lead to problems, as dogs tend to hunt in packs, and may become excited in the presence of another dog and kill or seriously hurt a cat they have been friendly with in the past.
Introduce the Westie and cat slowly. Crate training the dog can really help as it allows the cat freedom without fear of fighting. It also allows the dog to become familiar with the cat.
Remove the cat litter box and food from areas that the dog has access to. Not only will the dog eat both the food and the fecal material in the litter box but the cat will often start using other areas of the house as a litter box.
Keeping the Westie on a leash when in the presence of the cat for the first little while works well. Don’t be disappointed if the cat and dog don’t actually socialize or play together, as long as they respect each other. Be sure to reward both the dog and the cat when they behave appropriately together.
INTRODUCING YOUR WESTIE TO OTHER SPECIES
Many dog owners also have birds, rabbits, guinea pigs or other small animals in the house. While you may be able to introduce your Westie to these animals following the steps outlined for cat introductions, it is not recommended that there be interaction without human supervision.
There are some breeds of dogs that get along very well with other species, but most dogs have the hunting instinct. As dogs tend to react by instinct, when they become excited or scared they may react with aggression towards animals that they have previously interacted with.