Bringing a new dog into the household is not always easy, especially when you already have pets such as cats. The old saying goes–dogs don’t get along with cats. This saying has some basis in truth, in some cases, such as when you have cats and want to bring home a Border Terrier.
Border Terriers tend to be natural hunters and will want to chase anything smaller than (or even sometimes animals similar in size) them.
Border Terriers can be territorial. They have been bred since the 1800s to be hunting dogs. This can be a hard trait to overcome, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Border Terriers are very friendly and loving animals so teaching your new dog to love the cat(s) you already have can be done, it might just take a little work.
There are many steps you can take to acclimate your Border Terrier to living with your cat(s) including but not limited to slow introductions, affection, training, and socialization.
5 Actions to acclimate your Border Terrier to your cats
There are a few different ways you can get your Border Terrier to live comfortably with your cats. However, there are already a few positives right out of the gate for you and your Border Terrier including their pleasant disposition, loving nature, eagerness to please, and ability to pick up training quickly and easily–all of which will make this journey much more attainable.
Action #1 Test Run
Depending on where you are adopting from, there are a few different ways you can handle this for your furry friends. Let’s look closer at a few of the different situations you might find yourself in.
Adopting from breeder
In this instance, you may be able to ask your breeder if they know anything about how their batch of puppies or even older dogs might react to different pets in the house. Oftentimes breeders have multiple animals in their home, so the dog may have already been exposed to other animals such as cats.
This can prove to be a great comfort when bringing home a new addition. You can also ask how past batches of puppies have acclimated to new homes.
Adopting from a Humane Society or similar agency
Many places like the Humane Society have programs where you can take home your dog for a short stay before adoption. This happened when we adopted our Border Terrier.
We were given a three-night “sleepover” before having to sign any papers or make a final decision. This option worked great for us as my boyfriend is allergic to dogs, and it gave us a great sense of how he would react to having a Border Terrier in the home with us!
The same sort of thing can work with cats as well. This option would give your cat an easy introduction to the dog, and you can see how they interact without having to make any full commitments right away.
Adopting from a home
Depending on how quickly the owners of a dog are trying to find a new home for their pet and their attitudes, similar to the Humane Society, you might be able to do a test run to see the dog’s nature around your animals before fully committing. This might not always be an option, but it never hurts to ask!
Action #2 Slow introductions
This is another great option when bringing home your Border Terrier. Not forcing both animals to be together 24/7 when you first bring a new dog home can be great to slowly build confidence in their reactions to each other.
Consider keeping them in separate areas of your home at first, giving them each their own space and allowing them to interact a few times a day under supervision. This can be a good way to not worry about them fighting with each other.
This is also a great option for when you’re at work or away from home so you don’t have to worry about the pets while you’re gone.
Slowly increase the amount of time the pets spend together until you feel confident that your Border Terrier recognizes the cat(s) as something not to chase or harass and instead finds them as comrades (or at least tolerable).
Action #3 Affection
Border Terriers are often territorial and love to be spoiled with attention and affection, so when putting this concept into play be sure to not give your cat(s) more attention than your new Border Terrier, but show equal affection to your cat(s). This can show your Border Terrier that you care about that animal and that the cat(s) is/are not something to chase or hunt.
Also, encouraging attention and affection to both at the same time will help to quickly build strong bonds between all your pets. It’s just as important to show your cat that the new dog is nothing to be afraid of or protected from.
Action #4 Training
Luckily enough, Border Terriers are smart and highly trainable dogs.
Even if your dog is hesitant around cats at first, chances are with proper and positive training your dog is going to quickly understand the cat is not something to chase. Positive reinforcement when your dog is being kind and friendly to your cat(s) will help encourage that behavior.
Negative reinforcement like a loud noise, such as a clap or mild yell, or a timeout, such as a kennel time or isolation, will discourage bad behavior. Border Terriers tend to pick up quickly on new training cues and expectations, so with a little bit of time and effort your Border Terrier should understand that the cat is not a game animal.
Action #5 Socialization
This is a concept that I am always very adamant about. Socializing your Border Terrier with other dogs, animals, and humans can quickly encourage good behavior and affection. Border Terriers are by nature affectionate dogs, so introducing them to whoever and whatever other animals you can are going to make things so much easier.
This is also a training cue, so they will listen and understand when you tell them no if they start to revert to their base hunting nature around your cat.
Other things to consider
There are a few other things to take into consideration when introducing your new Border Terrier to your cat(s). Some can make things harder and others a little easier. Let’s take a closer look.
Consideration #1 Age of dog
Puppies tend to be very easy to train, as they haven’t been taught any differently yet. Anywhere up to two years of age should be a pretty easy age group to train and quickly socialize your dog with your cat(s).
Border Terriers are smart so it will not be hard to train them in their older years, just know it might take a little longer for them to pick up on social cues and expectations. Slower introductions are encouraged in these situations whereas puppies should be introduced right away to promote quick acclimation to the other animal.
Consideration #2 Past home of dog
Adopting a dog that had a past home can play a role either for better or worse. There is a chance your dog was already in a home with other animals such as cats, which will make for a quick and easy transition!
Adopting a dog that wasn’t previously exposed to cats may take a little more time and the actions above should be taken properly and immediately upon entry into the new home.
Consideration #3 Your cat’s disposition
Taking your cat’s disposition into account is also important. Make sure your cat is ready for a new home buddy as their reactions to the new pet can be just as hard to deal with as a Border Terrier not used to small animals being around them and sharing their space.
Encourage good behavior from your cat as well as from the new dog.
Consideration #4 Indoor vs. outdoor cats
Once again, Border Terriers are smart animals and can often distinguish easily that an animal also in the house is not for hunting.
Relying on this, of course, is not recommended, but it’s an added bonus to introducing your Border Terrier to his new housemate (s).
Introducing them to outdoor cats can prove a much more difficult process and should be handled with a great deal of vigilance, especially at first. Cats are typically also very smart creatures and should be able to avoid your new Border terrier if he has that incessant urge to chase, but the actions listed above should be taken with more attentiveness with outdoor cats.
Yes, Border Terriers can live with cats!
All in all, Border Terriers are highly trainable dogs, and introducing them to cats is very doable. There is also a high chance they will live comfortably with each other and even grow fond of one another when spending so much time together.
There are some great and easy steps to take to get your Border Terrier acclimated to living with cats and in the end, it is worth it to be able to have two wonderful animals living under the same roof with you.