Can the Belgian Malinois get along with cats? It can seem hard to believe with the natural antagonism of cats and dogs; many don’t get along. But some can, so can the Malinois, with their traditional occupations of guarding, herding and police work be one of them?
Getting a Belgian Malinois and a cat to get along will be difficult. On the one hand, Malinois are a herding breed, so this helps as they are bred to take care of other animals. But they also have a relatively high prey drive, which can make things hard. It may not be easy, but with training and taking the personality of the cat and dog into consideration, friendship may be possible.
Good relations between Belgians and cats are dependant upon a wide variety of factors. This can range from their individual personalities as some Belgians and cats will do better than others.
How you train and socialize your dog is important as well. A poorly trained dog will get along with a cat much worse than a well trained one.
Setting your house up the right way can help as well. Doing things like separate feeding areas, giving your cat escape routes. Not to mention a cat safe space.
All of these things will be covered in-depth and can make or break your dog and cat’s relationship.
History of the Belgian Malinois
One of four varieties of Belgian sheepdogs, Malinois were developed in the late 1800s in Belgium. This makes them one of the younger breeds of the dog world. Originally bred to be sheepdogs, their usefulness has been proving in such a wide range of activities such as protection, and police work.
The first breed of dog to be used in the Belgian police force. Malinois also conducted themselves with great honor in World War 1, where they served in almost every role imaginable. From red cross dogs, ambulance cart dogs, and they were even used to pull carts containing light machine-guns.
It was after World War 1 that they began to get international attention. When many dogs were exported to countries throughout the world. Many American servicemen got the dogs during World War 1 and later took them home when the fighting ended.
Belgian Malinois Temperament
Malinois are very similar in looks and temperament to German Shepherds, who are considered close cousins of the breed. There is however some difference in physique as Malinois are usually a bit smaller and have lighter bones.
These dogs are easy to train and extremely attentive to their master. Being a very loyal and protective breed, they can make great family dogs. Training and socialization are extra important with a dog with this level of high intelligence and energy. Without good training and lots of exercise they can easily develop numerous nervous disorders. But given the attention needed, they can make the best of dogs.
Introducing Your Dog to Your Cat
First impressions can play a big role in how people think about each other. The impression you make in just the first few minutes with a person could potentially define the relationship for quite some time. This isn’t any different with cats and dogs. Their first meeting could set up the rhythm for years of their friendship or rivalry, depending on how things go.
The easiest introduction will be raising a puppy with a kitten. When you have them when their young, their too playful and innocent to cause much trouble. For you or for them. Many of the deepest fonds are formed in childhood and this applies to dogs and cats as well.
Of course, not everyone will have the good fortune to be able to get their dog and cat at the same time. Sometimes you will be introducing a kitten to a full-grown dog or a puppy to a full-grown cat. For each situation, there are specific tactics and problems to overcome.
Introducing a Malinois Puppy to a Cat
Besides raising a puppy and kitten together this is probably the second easiest combination. Controlling a puppy is a lot easier than controlling a full-grown dog, so you can set the relationship up more on your terms.
The biggest difficulty that your cat is going to have with a puppy is either jealousy or the puppies’ exuberant energy is going to irritate your cat.
Before introducing the pup to the cat, play with it. You’re going to want to burn off some of that youthful energy. This way the puppy doesn’t overwhelm your cat. The cat is going to be a lot more amiable to a slightly tired puppy than an energizer bunny rolling ball of energy. Puppies are great but they can eventually wear down even the happiest of souls.
If during the playtime the cat starts looking tense or angry, gently pick the puppy up and end the play session for the day.
Introducing a Full Grown Dog to a Kitten
Before introducing your kitten to your Belgian Malinois, keep them in a separate part of the house. Someplace where they can smell each other but not see or interact with each other.
When they first meet, have your dog on a leash. This way you have some level of control of your dog if anything goes south. Try to be calm as your Malinois will pick up on your feelings. This combined with their strong protective instincts if your feeling nervous your dog might think the cat is the cause.
If your dog tries lunging at the cat, pull sharply on the leash with a strong “no”. When your dog is good and stays at your side or ignores the cat. Then reward them with a dog biscuit or one of their favorite treats.
Observe the relationship closely. Don’t let them interact unsupervised until your fully confidant that they get along well together.
Watch out for any of these signs of aggression from your dog:
- Stiffened body language
- Hair on their back raised
- Any growling or snarling
- Watch out for erect ears and tail, these can be signs of aggression
- Any showing of teeth
If you see any of these signs from the dog end the interaction quickly, separate them and put your cat somewhere safe.
Training Your Belgian Malinois
With a breed with the instincts of the Malinois, training becomes of utmost importance. A well-trained dog will get along much better with a cat than one poorly trained.
The highest priority in your Malinois training regime should be to have consistency in your training methods. Reward them for their positive behaviors, and reward them everytime. Those things you don’t want your dog to do, make sure to enforce those boundaries everytime.
Inconsistent punishments and rewards will confuse your dog and leave them unsure of what you want from them.
Use a Command Phrase
A command phrase is a sharp single syllable word designed to make your dog stop whatever it is that they are doing. The word could be anything. But it needs to get your dog’s attention. You can even use a device that clicks, and many dog trainers swear by it.
With this command phrase, if your dog starts getting too aggressive with your cat you should be able to stop them quickly with the command phrase.
Take Your Belgian Malinois to Puppy Kindergarten
Puppy kindergarten can be a great way to set up good behaviors in your dog from when they’re young.
It gives them a supportive area for training, where they’re surrounded by other dogs who are doing the same thing. It also gives you some professional guidance in your training routine. To help ensure your doing things correctly.
Socialization is important for Malinois as well. Puppy kindergarten will help your dog meet and get used to other dogs and the other people they will meet as well. All of these things will help your dog develop a healthy attitude to the world around them.
Set Up Your House for Your Cat
While training your dog is important, you also need to get your house set up well for fostering peace.
- Feed your cat somewhere the dog can’t get to
- Give your cat a place of their own
- Have lots of cat trees and toys for your cat
Feed Your Cat Separately From Your Dog
Food can be a serious issue when it comes to cats and dogs. Or any living creature for that matter. Our bodies are literally built up by food and to be deprived of it can mean death. While we people understand that food is usually plentiful so theirs no reason to fight over it. But for cats and dogs, their minds are still in the jungle even if their bodies are living in posh homes.
You can help shortcut this problem by feeding your animals in different locations. Giving your cat their kibble somewhere high up will prevent the dog from being able to get to it. The cat will still be able to steal from the dog’s food bowl. But most dogs will eat too quickly for that to be an issue.
Have a Cat Room
Cats are not always the most sociable of creatures. Sometimes they want love and cuddles. But they can be so moody, that this can change quickly. Then they just want to be left alone.
If this need for alone time isn’t met, then cats could scratch or bite. Many a cat has made happy and peace with a bit of a timeout. Away from the world where nothing bothers them. Not with sound or physical contact.
So do your cat a favor and give them their own place. Hallways, bedrooms, or laundry rooms could do. As long as it’s blocked off from your dog.
Child-gates can be a good tool for separation. That way your dog will be blocked but your cat should have fairly easy access.
Cat Toys and Cat Trees are a Must
A bored cat can be a bad cat. If your cat doesn’t have things to entertain themselves then that might take up a hobby of terrorizing your dog and maybe you. So you need to keep your cat entertained.
Your dog needs toys but your cat does too. So get them toys that are appropriate for them that they love.
Cats like nothing more than climbing. They will climb. If you give them the chance they can be climbing things like a cat tree made specifically for them. If they don’t have these things then they might climb your drapes.
Plus a cat tree will give your cat somewhere to flee to if the dog gets on their nerves. A cat with a way out will be much less likely to scratch or bite.
This way they can hang on their artificial tree safely and look down on everything. Just the kind of place a cat likes to be.
Malinois with their high energy levels and protective instincts may be a bit too intense for some cats. But having been bred originally to protect sheep, this can help them get along with a cat.
It won’t happen on its own, however. You as the owner will need to train your Belgian Malinois and make sure they’re well socialized.
Train your dog well and set up your house well for your cat. This will help set your dog and cat on the path of friendship. A little work at the beginning of the relationship will pay off dividends for many years.