Trainer shares simple thing you can do to help your dog and cat get along

Yellow Labrador Retriever and Maine Coon cat cuddling together on a blue couch
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible for cats and dogs to coexist peacefully in the same home, or even get along well, but good socialization and training play a huge part in this. 

However, it’s not realistic to expect us to train our pets all the time. We need to work, cook and clean, and just relax and spend time with our loved ones too. So, what can you do to make sure there’s no conflict between your kitty – who might just want to enjoy one of the best cat toys in peace – and your pup – who might be more inclined to want to play together – while you aren’t right there to keep an eye on their interactions?

According to Naomi Rotenberg, a certified professional trainer and the owner of Praiseworthy Pets, who specializes in the relationships between cats and dogs, there’s something you can try. 

When you have dogs and cats living together but you can’t be on hand to sort out any squabbles right away , Rotenberg recommends putting what she describes as a “hands-off setup” in place. Insert a barrier between your animals – depending on the stage of socialization they’re at, you may decide to either make it see-through or covered. 

Give your pup a couple of enrichment activities that promote relaxation. Let them sniff for kibble, or give them a chew or a LickiMat. And, likewise, give your cat a couple of enrichment activities that allow them to explore their environment in a calm manner. Rotenberg suggests hiding kibble in their cat tree, or getting one of their favorite toys so that it’s sticking out of a hiding spot. 

As a result, she explains, “Both animals are practicing appropriate behaviors around each other. The enrichment activities are reinforcing those behaviors (without you needing to do anything).”

Because both your cat and your dog are enjoying themselves in each other’s presence, you’re encouraging them to form positive associations. And, remember that you’re allowed time away from training your pets to relax. As Rotenberg says, “If you’re relaxed, your pets are more likely to be relaxed too!”

When it comes to cats and dogs living together, remember that safety should always come first. Physical barriers, like Rotenberg suggests, can be great to help keep cats safe and at ease – as dogs often love to chase! And, when your cat and dog are together, your feline friend should always have access to escape routes.

Perhaps you already have a cat or a dog and you’re considering whether to bring another one home. You might find this article helpful: Should I get a cat or dog?

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy 
$18.65 at Chewy

Frisco Bento Interactive Puzzle Dog Toy
$18.65 at Chewy
Offering a moderate level of difficulty, this problem-solving game features sliding pieces and nooks where you can hide small treats or kibble. Suitable for all breeds, it's a great way to provide your pup with some mental stimulation. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.