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Sharing Valentine's Day with your pets

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People often want to spend a special night together on Valentine’s Day, and for those people who share a home with pets, this is not usually a problem. But if you are going to visit that special someone and would like to bring your dog with you, it can be difficult if that special someone’s dog does not like your dog, or the resident cat does not like your dog.

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What to do? Waiting until a special day like Valentine’s Day to try and have two or more dogs or a dog and cat get along is not the right thing to do. Dogs and cats that do not like each other, even if they do not fight, can spoil a pleasant evening. Both you and your special someone will be tense, watching and worrying about the pets. In addition, the pets themselves will not enjoy the event.

If the problem is a dog and cat that do not get along, the easiest solution is to get together in the dog’s home and leave the cat behind. Cats typically do not like to visit strange homes and this will alleviate the problem, for now.

In the future, gradually introducing the dog and cat in the cat’s home will allow them to accept each other. The worst thing you can do is force the dog and cat to confront each other. The best way to introduce the two it is lock the cat in a room with all the necessities and let the cat get used to the dog being in the house. As the cat gets comfortable, a gate by the door will allow the dog and cat to see each other and gradually accept each other. This will work if the dog can be controlled and does not want to attack the cat.

In the case of two or more dogs, it is important to have all of the dogs involved under control through obedience work. Never use harsh methods such as prong, choke or shock collars since the pain induced by these devices can cause the dogs to hate each other.

You and your special someone must meet in a neutral area that none of the dogs considers “their” property. Let the dogs gradually, at their own pace, sniff and get to know each other. Do this as many times as it takes for the dogs to become friends. Once they look forward to playing together you can bring them from the play area to one home or the other.

If the dogs are in any way aggressive with each other or do not make friends, you need to seek the help of a good canine behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org

With a little planning and patience, that special day, such as Valentine’s Day can be fun for everyone.

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