Dogs vs. cats, it’s a debate as old as time and one that will no doubt be discussed far into the future. We won’t weigh in on this debate, because there’s an obvious bias here. That said, cats can make wonderful pets, provide refuge during difficult times, and all have wonderful personalities of their own, even if they rely less on their owners for their personal well-being than dogs might – or they try to give this impression as much as possible.
If you’ve mostly been a cat owner up to now, then you are likely aware of what it takes to care for a pet. Perhaps you’re thinking about switching things up and owning a dog for the first time. This is fantastic! Any dog finding a welcoming and warm home is always a victory, even if you’re a little nervous to get started.
That said, while cats and dogs often take similar or even mutual slots in our family home, the owning responsibilities and management duties between them can be very different.
So, if you’re used to owning cats, consider this best advice for owning a dog. We’re certain you’ll pick these insights up like a natural:
1) Dogs Need Training & Socialization
Cats are wonderful, but they only sometimes need to socialize with us as owners. Many times, they’re quite happy going to and fro on their own terms, which is why they’re considered a more independent style of pet. Sure, they might knead you while you’re trying to sleep or wake you up by meowing in your face, but overall, they won’t beg for your time.
Dogs, however, do. If they could, they would be on your lap 24/7 and only move when it suits them or when they need to eat. But it’s not just about interpersonal socialization between dog and owner that counts, but also how dogs meet with other dogs.
Cats, of course, are not famous for getting on with other cats in the neighborhood. Sometimes they fight, but you can limit that by keeping them housebound if they’re indoor cats. Dogs need to be socialized because otherwise they can lunge for other dogs immediately, pull against the lead harshly, or won’t behave if relatives bring their own pets around.
You can achieve this familiarity, and more, by visiting a trainer. You can’t teach a cat tricks except for baseline reactions such as coming to you when they hear the clank of their kitty bowl, or showing them where to conduct business in a cat litter tray.
Dogs, however, respond to many commands and need to be taught them. Being taught when to drop it, when to come, when you’re unhappy, when to get off the sofa, when to fetch, and most of all, when to respect your authority (hint: it’s all the time) is crucial for their management. As such, part of dog ownership means training them properly with a local trainer service for a number of months.
2) Dogs Have Different Dietary Requirements
Cats and dogs (and humans too!) all require a nutritional diet, but how that’s defined can vary greatly by… well, the species you’re caring for. It’s important not to assume that a food you regularly treated your cat to will be best for your dog.
For example, you might feed small amounts of tuna to your cat. But large amounts (say, to fill up a large doggy bowl), can contain more mercury than your dog may be comfortably handling, especially over time. The same can be said for ingredients like liver, okay in small portions for cats, but big dogs shouldn’t eat too much because of the very high vitamin A content. Also – cat food is not great for dogs, because of the taurine content. While your cat may love catnip, your dog could suffer gastrointestinal issues from it.
Of course, it’s not possible to write an exhaustive list here, so be sure to ask questions like can dogs eat salmon? Can dogs eat raw meats as well as cats? Find a reliable online resource, preferably written by a pet-focused business, before you proceed.
3) Dogs Need Exercise
Cats are perfectly happy to get their own exercise. Sure, you might help them by having them chase a laser, but they’re unlikely to play fetch or chase you around the park anytime soon. Dogs, on the other hand, really do need exercise.
This means you need to plan time out to walk them in your local park, give them space to run, or get used to them having “the zoomies” within your household. If you can prepare for that, then the overall approach to caring for your little furry friend is going to be more than fine.
4) Dogs Are Much Less Independent
It’s an adjustment to make, but cat owners that have been perfectly happy to trust their cat and snuggle when it’s most appropriate will realize that dogs have a tendency to follow you around. That might include following you into the bathroom while you’re trying to take a morning shower, sleeping at the side of your bed, bounding into the room if they hear their dog bowl, and generally being very loyal and connected to you.
Cats may feel this way, but they’ll never show it to you. That’s why it’s important to understand just how much less independent dogs are and to prepare for that fact. If you’re not ready to deal with this, it can be a little much.
5) Large Dogs Must Be Managed Correctly
A mid to large-sized dog absolutely requires careful care and management. If you haven’t had a pet of this size before, it’s important to be ready for it. Purchasing a leash that offers some give if they bound forward, but that you can control, is important.
It’s also essential to practice the command training that you’ll learn in your local training service sessions. If you have children in your household, then it’s essential to make sure they’re big enough to contend with the dog as well, because having a large dog around infants or toddlers, even if the dog is the most placcid in the world, might pose a risk given how they like to run excitedly.
6) Dogs Need To Be Penned In
If you have an indoor cat, the question is rather simple – keep the cat in the house. However, not all cats are indoor, and outdoor cats tend to come and go as they please. Even if you install privacy fences and gates, they can squeeze through or climb up them for the most part.
Dogs, on the other hand, can’t. If they see an opening though, they’ll bound out through it at one million miles an hour. That’s why it’s so important to pen dogs appropriately, as proper gates, safety gates at the bottom or top of the stairs depending on their size, and door catches or closers can be so important.
Always make sure you have the dog on the lead before you open the door, and take it off when returning. Fence in your back garden and always check for holes they might be digging near or under them. This will help you keep appropriate control over them, and ensure they never run away. That’s okay because your home is the most loving place they could ever be, anyways.
With this advice, you’re sure to follow the best cat owner’s guide to owning a dog. It might take some adjustment, but you’re sure to get there.