A Guide to Training Your Dog to Behave Around the Cat
Most people are under the impression that cats and dogs can’t get along, no matter how hard you try. So what are cat and dog lovers supposed to do? If your partner is a part of team dog and you’re team cat, you likely want to have both pets in the home. Can you be successful? You can — it just takes the proper training and precautions.
Dogs and cats can get along. The best way to start is with a proper, slow, and steady introduction. If that does not work, training with a leash and treats is sufficient. You can also use the time-out technique. Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise daily and that each animal has its own safe space to remain calm, confident, and happy.
If you want to bring a dog and a cat into the same home, but you’re concerned about the evidence chasing and attacking, you need to know how to combat the situation. This blog will teach you why dogs are prone to misbehaving around felines and, more importantly, how you can put an end to this behavior for good.
How to Train a Dog to Behave Around the Cat
If your puppy acts more like his wolf ancestors around your cat instead of being the furry best friend you know and love, you have got a major problem on your hands. The good news is, you don’t have to settle for this troubling experience. The proper training can help your dog and your cat get along. They might not be best friends, but at least your household won’t be a wreck.
Start with Basic Obedience Training
A dog that has not been trained with the most basic commands won’t have very much luck being trained in other areas. Before even thinking about training your dog to behave around a cat, have him go through a basic obedience course.
Knowing commands like sit, stand, and stay is critical for your dog. These basic commands will be able to help in all areas of life, whether it’s not running into the street, not jumping on your guests, or chasing after your furry feline.
You have two options when it comes to basic obedience training. It can be done in the home, using treats and positive praise. Or, you can have him professionally trained through an obedience course. The latter is suggested if you have a more difficult and independent breed.
Introduce Them Properly
The best and easiest way to have a peaceful home with a dog and a cat is to introduce them while still young. This way, they grow up together. There is no room for aggression, chasing, or attacking, as they will not know any different.
However, this is not always possible for families. If you are dealing with older dogs and cats meeting each other for the first time, you need to be pickier about introducing them. A proper introduction will lessen the chance of misbehavior from your dog.
Many steps need to be taken to ensure a successful introduction. This could take a few days or weeks, depending on the stubbornness of your dog.
For best results, it might be optimal to avoid breeds known for not getting along with cats. This includes the Australian Cattle Dog, Beagle, Greyhound, Jack Russell Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Siberian Husky, and Weimaraner. (Source: Scratch Pay)
Here are some tips for a successful introduction.
Always Make Sure the Cat Has a Safe Space
This should be done automatically, whether your dog and cat get along or not. Cats enjoy their independence and need specific things to make them feel safe, secure, and confident. A cat needs a safe space that includes:
- A secure door and ceiling. You want your cat to be safe from the elements. You also want to make sure that the dog can’t enter the room with a flimsy door.
- Always make sure that the room has a litter box, water, and food. A decent number of toys are ideal, and they will likely enjoy having a scratching post.
- Places to hide. These can be added to the safe room as well as the rest of the home. Things like cat houses, towers, and tunnels are excellent choices. Remember that cats love to sit up high, so give him plenty of options to come up off the floor and away from the dangers down below.
Don’t Introduce Them Right Away
Bringing a new pet into the home is always exciting but introducing your beloved pets right away can do more harm than good. You should keep the pets separate for the first few days after you bring the new pet home. This way, the new fella can get used to his new space.
During this time, the animals are getting used to each other. Even though they can’t see each other, they can still smell one another. Getting used to each other’s scent is imperative for success. When the two finally meet eye-to-eye, it won’t be so shocking.
Feed Them Nearby
You will want to have the food bowls next to each other but on either side of a closed door. This does two things: first, it allows them to get closer to each other naturally and become more accustomed to the scent. Second, they will associate good things — such as food — with the scent of the other animal.
Begin Face-to-Face Meetings
The last step is to finally bring your pets together for face-to-face meetings. Keep in mind that these meetings should be done slowly and shouldn’t last too long. The meeting should never occur in the dog or cat’s ‘special’ area. This will wreak much havoc as pets do not like their personal space being invaded by another animal.
During the meeting, make sure that the dog is restrained. This will prevent anything from happening, such as an attack or lunging for a chase. The cat should feel free to come and go as he pleases. During the meetings, always praise and reward your dog for remaining calm. This will teach him to behave from the get-go, so there is no chasing later on.
The meeting should not last too long. A few minutes here, and it is sufficient. As the days go by, increase the amount of time the pets are allowed together. Once you feel confident, the pets can get along, remove the dog from his leash.
Keep in mind that even though the two may appear to be living in harmony, they should not be left unsupervised. Keep an eye on the pets when they are in the same room to avoid any disastrous situations.
(Source: Animal Humane Society)
Teach the Dog How to Behave
Training your puppy to behave around the cat is not as challenging as you might think. All you need to train is a leash and some treats. It is best if you have a leash that can change in length. If you do not have a retractable leash, then you will need two leashes of separate lengths.
When you have all of your necessary equipment, you can begin training. Here’s how.
- Attach the shorter leash to your dog’s collar and keep it on at all times. A leash is essential for success, and your dog should be kept on the leash at all times while in the home around your cat. This is necessary to keep him from indulging in a game of chase.
- When the cat comes in the vicinity, have your dog sit and give you full attention. If he listens on the first try, then reward him with a treat and heavy praise. If he tries to lunge for the cat, then move a few steps away and try again. Continue to move away from the cat until he listens. Then, follow up with a treat and praise.
- Continue rewarding your well-behaved canine until the cat is gone. If the cat doesn’t leave right away, then try and give your dog something engaging and fun to do. This could be a favorite chew toy or a dog bone.
- Repeat the first three steps. Depending on the dog, this could take a few days, weeks, or even months. The key here is to be persistent. The second your dog can chase after the cat; you will be back at square one. Don’t let this happen. Continue to repeat steps 1 through 3 until he looks to you every time he sees the cat.
- Advance to a longer leash. Once you feel confident that your dog won’t engage in a game of chase, you can move onto the longer leash.
- Finally, release the dog from the leash. If all goes well with step 5 and you feel completely secure that your cat is safe and your dog can behave, then you can remove the leash entirely. You should still keep an eye on your pets when they are together. Even though your dog is adequately trained, it doesn’t mean something can’t happen.
Use the Time-Out Method
Some pet owners think of their pets as their children. They treat them so wonderfully with the best foods and clothing to keep them cozy and warm and prepared for the holidays. But what these pet owners don’t know is sometimes they have to punish their pets like children, too.
You can put an end to misbehavior from your dog around the cat by putting them in time-out. When you notice that your dog is barking, fixating, or preparing to lunge towards the cat, you need to immediately remove him from the situation.
The time-out area should be a quiet area where your dog can’t escape. Some good options are a bathroom, crate, or garage. The area should have some things he enjoys, such as a water bowl and a toy. You shouldn’t encourage this behavior by giving him any treats or special things, though, as this will encourage misbehavior.
After a few minutes, remove the dog from the crate and allow him to roam the household once more. If he makes any noises or shows any signs of lunging towards the cat, take him back to time-out. Continue this process until he learns that this behavior is unacceptable, and he needs to be calm and in control around the other pet.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should always bring the dog to time-out calmly and peacefully. If you’re hyped up, yelling, or even talking to your dog, then he can become aroused. This will make him even more prone to chasing after the family cat. It’s just as important to release him calmly, too.
(Source: Resources. Best Friends)
Tire Your Dog Out
Adequate exercise is necessary for a healthy and happy dog. Keep in mind that some dogs require more exercise than others. For example, a larger-sized pooch may need up to 2 hours while a small lap dog only needs around 30 minutes. Either way, a tired-out dog will have less desire to chase.
There is an endless supply of exercises, both indoors and outdoors, that your dog will enjoy. When it comes to outdoor activities, consider one of these fun options.
Hiking is among one of the favorite activities for dogs big and small. Of course, a smaller dog will need a much lighter and shorter trail than a bigger dog. However, nature will allow him to enjoy the fresh air and get his wiggles out. He can also follow his nose.
Plenty of dogs love water. Not only do they thoroughly enjoy it, but they get plenty of cardio. It’s a low-impact activity, making it ideal for older dogs, too. However, make sure that you have a dog breed that can swim. Some can’t. While they are still learning to swim, make sure they are wearing a life jacket at all times.
Fetch is a classic activity that every dog loves. You can try some different methods of fetch by using a Frisbee or toy instead of a ball.
Dogs, especially larger dogs, will enjoy galloping along while you go for a skate. This can be done whether you’re wearing inline skates or rollerblades. You can even skateboard with your furry friend.
Yes, there are actual dog sports. Some dogs thoroughly enjoy going through a course put together in the backyard. Others will enjoy scent work and agility training.
Of course, walking was going to be on this list. But here’s a twist. Let your dog walk you instead. This way, he can follow his nose and indulge in some of his prey drive that would otherwise be used on chasing the cat. It’s a fun experience for you and your pup.
Go to the Dog Park
Dogs enjoy playing with other dogs. This is especially true for the dog that lives with a cat. A cat is like the annoying little sister to your dog. They simply won’t play together. Let your dog have a blast and expel tons of energy by taking him to the dog park to play with some furry friends.
Now, you’re probably wondering what you can do with your dog during chillier months or when you simply can’t go outdoors for whatever reason. Is there still a chance to expel his pent-up energy inside? Yes, and there are several ways to do so. Here are some top picks for indoor activities.
Run Up and Down the Stairs
One way to quickly and easily get rid of a lot of energy is to go running up and down the stairs. Let your dog chase you, so you can get some exercise, too. Just be careful with dogs with smaller legs and longer backs as stairs are far more strenuous to their bodies.
Let Your Dog Run on the Treadmill
It might take a little bit of training at first, but a high-energy dog will end up loving their workout on the treadmill.
Much like fetch, another classic dog game is tug. This is also a top choice because it will release some of his prey drive and aggressiveness. This will help ease the tension between the dog and cat and reduce chasing and fighting.
Chase, hide-and-seek, and find the treats are all fun games that are mentally stimulating as well.
Learning New Tricks
A plethora of breeds enjoy learning new things. You can train your dog to do some fun new tricks. This expels some energy while also stimulating his mind.
Bubbles aren’t just for antsy 2-year-olds. They are great for dogs, too. Dogs will enjoy chasing after bubbles and jumping up to pop them with their paws.
Make an Indoor Obstacle Course
You can make an indoor obstacle course for your pup. Mix and match with different items to create a game he will thoroughly enjoy.
Get Some New Dog Toys
Puzzles, interactive toys, and brain-stimulating toys are excellent ways to keep your dog engaged and get rid of some extra energy. Plus, these toys will keep him so heavily occupied that he won’t even think about chasing the cat.
(Source: Pet Finder, AKC, Animal Planet, Puppy Leaks)
Option 5: Professional Help
Sometimes, at-home training does not always work. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a stubborn breed that doesn’t train well. As a last resort, consider opting for professional help. Professional dog trainers teach some courses and classes that can help you with your goal of harmony.
Make Sure Your Cat is Behaving Too
Sometimes it’s not all the dog’s fault. Cats can be just as aggressive and may end up attacking your poor little dog. There are a few reasons why this might occur. The good news is, solving this problem is typically relatively simple.
The Cat is Stressed
A stressed-out cat is an unhappy cat. His stress can lead to misbehavior, such as attacking the dog. To handle this issue, you need to help your kitty de-stress. Give your cat his own space and make sure that he has some calming toys. If he is becoming stressed from looking outside, then don’t allow access to the outdoors — even if it means closing off the windows.
Inside the home, a cat can become aggressive if it does not have a place to hide. Cats enjoying being high-up, so make sure it has an area where he can escape from the dog. Cat trees or a high-up window seal are excellent choices.
The Cat is Acting on Its Prey Drive
Cats have a prey drive, too. This will likely show up in the form of your cat trying to pounce on the dog’s wiggly tail. The best thing to do is to offer redirection as well as a plethora of intriguing toys that your cat can chase, pounce, and tug on. Think of toys such as a pretend mouse that has a long, wiggly tail.
(Source: Pet Helpful)
Why Do Dogs Chase Cats?
Why do dogs feel the need to chase cats, anyway? Why does so much training need to be done, so the dog isn’t being chased all day? There are two specific reasons why a dog might chase a cat: he is either following his instincts and prey drive, or he wants to play.
It’s true that most of the time, a dog chases a cat simply due to its automatic prey drive. This is especially true in breeds that were originally bred for chasing and herding. Some dog breeds that are prone to chase include the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Airedale Terrier, Greyhound, Saluki, and Bull Terrier.
It’s not that they are trying to be a ‘bad dog.’ It is merely in their DNA to want to chase after smaller animals that move. This is why training is so utterly important, especially for breeds that have a high prey drive.
On the other hand, some dogs think chasing the cat is a game. They want to have a little bit of fun and consider the cat as a plaything, much like a ball or Frisbee they might run after. The problem with this is that a cat should be seen as a companion rather than a toy, as this stresses a cat and may even lead to injury.
What If the Behavior is Sudden and Unexpected?
If your dog and cat have coexisted and suddenly the behavior changes, you might be scratching your head. What would cause a dog to suddenly change and start attacking the cat after months or years of harmony? Here are some of the top reasons for swift behavioral problems.
Illness or Injury
Anytime there is an abrupt and serious change in behavior, it is likely due to some type of illness or injury. When a dog is not feeling well, they may begin to act out. This is because they are likely in some type of pain and are trying to get rid of the discomfort. In the case of sudden aggression and chasing, have your dog looked at by a veterinarian immediately.
Struggling with Fear or Anxiety
Sudden aggressive behavior can also be associated with fear or anxiety. This type of aggression will come with other signs, including:
- A tucked-in tail
- Avoiding any type of eye contact
- Fidgeting and awkward movements
- Destroying things such as furniture
- Whining and whimpering incessantly
Dogs can suddenly struggle with anxiety and fear for several reasons. The most common reason is separation anxiety. If he has been alone longer than usual, then this may be the cause. There may have also been a life change, such as a move, that caused the anxiety. Lastly, some illnesses can result in anxious behavior.
The best thing to do is to find the source of anxiety and treat it. If you’re unsure, the next best option is to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian. The anxiety may be stemming from an underlying condition.
Resource guarding is exactly how it sounds — the dog is guarding his resources. This could be water, food, and the area in which he sleeps. That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that your dog and cat have their own safe spaces. This way, either pet will ever have to act aggressively if they feel like their resources are being taken from them.
In every dog pack, there is a leader. Therefore, it is sometimes natural for your dog to try and be the dominant one in the household. If left untreated, this can lead to aggressive behavior such as barking, attacking, and chasing. So what can you, as the owner, do to stop this?
This behavior should be stopped immediately. The longer it goes, the harder it is, so stop. When he begins to show dominant behaviors, make a loud noise, and remove him from the area.
From there, the best thing to do is to show the dog that the cat is the dominant one in the household. One quick and easy way to establish this dominance is to feed the cat first and make the dog watch. This way, he knows that the cat is number one since she is getting her food before the dog.
The last cause for sudden misbehavior is a bored pooch. A bored dog is never a well-behaved dog. For some, it means they end up tearing apart the furniture or digging holes in the yard. Others will resort to whining and baking. Still, some will end up chasing the cat.
Again, this is why exercise is an important factor when it comes to dogs and cats getting along. A dog needs to expel his energy. Make sure he is getting adequate exercise daily to fulfill his needs.
Your pets can live in accord, despite what movies and television might display. The best way to ensure a harmonious household is to introduce the dog and cat slowly and steadily. If that doesn’t work, then you can train your pooch using the time-out or treat and leash method. Adequate exercise and a safe space for both pets are necessary for peace and happiness.