When you see your dog going after your cat, there are only 2 outcomes. To play with her or to attack her?
You see, dogs have an innate instinct to chase after any moving object. This is a natural behavior in dogs.
In fact, it is thought that this behavior is a predatory behavior that has developed since ancient times and is seen in dogs of all sizes, in particular those hunting breeds.
To get your dog to stop his attack on the cat, obedience training is a MUST. Avoid punishing him and reward him for ignoring the cat. Train him that it is not “fun” attack the cat and help him release his pent-up energy. Prevent your cat from pestering him and address his overprotective behavior.
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Obedience Training Is A MUST
Obedience training involves establishing a set of rules and boundaries for your dog to follow.
These rules are important to help your dog learn to adapt to the environment and to interact with your cat in a friendly and controlled way. The rules are based on the way dogs communicate with each other.
If your dog understands that biting is not acceptable and stays away from other dogs that are too close, then both he and the other dog are safe. This can also apply to your cat as well.
The concept of training is to teach your dog what is correct and what is NOT, and to reward the correct behavior to create that positive reinforcement.
Keep each training session short, fun, and interesting. Your dog will learn more quickly if the training is short and sweet. Keep your sessions to about 10 minutes long and end on a positive note.
You could also make use of a clicker to help you with the obedience training.
Get your dog to associate the clicker with something pleasurable. Many dogs enjoy the sound of the clicker, and you can pair the sound of the clicker with your dog’s favorite food or toy.
Once your dog is used to the mechanical sound of the clicker, add the word “Good Boy!” to praise him for the desirable behavior. This will be especially useful when you’re working on a new behavior.
Say for example, when you see your dog chasing after your cat, click the clicker and when your dog reacts by stopping his chase, praise him and reward him with a treat.
Do this as many times as needed until your dog reacts immediately whenever you press the clicker.
Next, add the verbal command in the training. Click on the clicker and say the command “Leave It” as soon as you see your dog attempt to chase after the cat.
Be sure to give your dog a reward (treat) as soon as he stops his chase. Continue with this command and clicker training till your dog responds very quickly to the command.
Train your dog on the “Leave It” command:
The way to train your dog on this command will be as followed:
1. You are going to take a small piece of dog food, and place it directly in front of your dog’s nose on the floor.
2. Your dog is likely going to sniff and lick this food immediately.
3. Use your hand to cover the food and say the command “Leave It”.
4. Your dog is likely going to ignore you for the first few seconds as he tries to get the food out of your hand.
5. Wait till he gives up his attempt (as it is fruitless) and turns his attention to you, and you would praise him and give him the treat from another hand.
6. Keep repeating this training till your dog gets the idea that when he hears the command “Leave It”, he should stop what he is doing and give you his attention.
This technique is good for teaching your dog to leave the things he is going after, in particular if you want him to stop chasing or attacking your cat.
Avoid Punishing Your Dog
If you see your dog is about to chase your cat, run over and stand between them and give your dog a time-out command and take him to his quiet area.
Do not yell at your dog or hit him as that might encourage him to run after the cat the next time. This is a form of negative association that you should not practice.
If your dog is chasing a cat, you can try the following: (without any punishment)
- You can try to distract your dog by calling him to you. You can do this by using a special command such as “Leave it” or “Stop in a firm and calm tone.
- You can pick up a piece of food and throw it towards him to distract him so that he will turn his attention away from the cat.
- You can move out of the way so that your cat has somewhere else to hide from your dog while you try to block your dog.
- If all else fails, you should grab your dog’s collar and pull him away from the cat. (Assuming your dog is on a collar).
Reward Him For IGNORING The Cat
To eliminate his attacking behavior, you will need to give your dog an alternative. Reward him for ignoring the cat. One way to accomplish this is to place your dog on leash and allow him to approach the cat slowly.
When he comes close to the cat, tell him to “Leave It” and then reward him. This will help him to associate ignoring the cat with a rewarding experience.
This type of training is known as positive reinforcement training and is based on the principles of operant conditioning, or learning through consequences.
When you reward your dog for performing a specific behavior (ignoring the cat), he learns that the behavior is acceptable.
Of course, the rewards have to be something that is extremely enticing to him so that he will feel that it is worth giving up his chasing and opt for the reward.
Personally, I find meat types of treats (as a reward) works well to get my dog’s attention. Do not simply use the regular dry kibbles as that is not going to be tempting enough to make your dog give up his “target” (your cat).
Repeat the exercise over the next few days. Make sure that when the cat is around, the dog is on leash. When he is able to remain calm with the cat around him, you can let him off the leash.
Keep Him Away From The Cat (During Training)
If your dog has to be put in a room to prevent him from injuring a cat while you are training him, you can get him a playpen.
It gives him more spaces to move around and prevents him from reaching the cat. When he lunges, he will strike the sides of the playpen and will get nowhere near the cat.
Putting him in a playpen is not cruel, and will teach him that he does not get to play with the cat unless he behaves himself.
This will give you the opportunity to train him that when your cat appears right in front of him (as a precaution, make sure he is to be in the playpen to avoid him attacking the cat) and he does not turn aggressively, GOOD things will happen.
That is, he will get your attention and be rewarded with enticing treats for his calmness.
As you continue with this training, your dog will gradually learn that having the cat beside him is not that threatening and in fact, is going to be a rewarding experience.
Train Him To Be Comfortable With Cat
Try the following way to make your dog feel that it is not that “fun” to chase or attack a cat.
1. Take your dog to your backyard and get him to play some strenuous physical exercise such as tug of war, freebies or chasing bubbles.
2. Keep him busy with the games for 20 – 30 minutes. The goal is to make him tired.
3. Once he is tired, bring him back to the home where he can see your cat.
4. Let him look at the cat for a while. (Put him on a leash just to prevent him from chasing the cat). Usually, he would be too tired to do any chasing.
5. Then bring him back to his playpen for him to take a rest.
6. Keep repeating this training for a few days.
7. By getting him to see the cat ONLY after he is tired out from playing games, he will no longer have the urge to chase and attack the cat. He will see the cat appearing in front of him as a normal scene.
And over time, he will give up the idea of chasing or attacking the cat as he slowly gets used to the cat appearing in front of him.
Get Your Dog To Release His Pent-up Energy
Your dog may also chase after your cat as a result of boredom, or he may simply find the cat an amusing plaything.
You would often find your dog with too much energy barking constantly, destroying furniture, chewing his bed and jumping up on you.
Your dog will need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation in order to burn off all that excess energy, especially if he belongs to a hunting breed which is typically more hyperactive.
A sedentary lifestyle leads to boredom and aggression, so get your dog active again.Take him for a long walk and let him run and play fetch with a ball. Let him explore the great outdoors.
Also give him some mental challenges such as playing “hide-and-seek” or let him play with a KONG toy that is stuffed with treats.
Dogs can’t get enough play time, so make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and playtime throughout the day.
Unbalanced Diet Causes Aggression
When your dog is not getting enough nutrition, he will become stressed out and this will manifest itself in many unpleasant ways, including aggressiveness.
You see, dog aggression can be the result of a dog that is fed an unbalanced diet that lacks the proper nutrients and vitamins for good health. There is a strong connection between nutrition and aggression.
Unbalanced diets cause nutritional deficiencies that leave your dog without the necessary ”fuel” to keep his body operating.
Aggression is the last resort of a dog that doesn’t have a proper alternative fuel source. When this happens, your dog will make a mad dash for whatever energy source he can get.
This often means that he goes after what he perceives as a potential source of food (which can be your cat).
When this happens, it’s not so much a case of your dog “becoming” aggressive; it’s more like he is going into a temporary “energy crisis.” During these times, he will act out in some way he normally would not (which is attacking your cat).
Canine nutritional deficiencies can be the result of a variety of factors such as:
1. Unbalanced diet (inferior ingredients, lack of vitamins and minerals).
2. Food allergies (caused by toxic foods or pollutants in the environment that the dog is exposed to).
3. Malabsorption problems (lack of enzymes in the digestive tract that aid in the digestion process).
4. Untreated medical conditions (such as hyperadrenocorticism).
5. Old age (declining immune function causes many dogs to become more susceptible to disease and parasites).
The bottom line is that if your dog is fed an unbalanced diet or one that lacks certain essential nutrients, he is likely going to show signs of aggression.
So you ought to do a review on the food that you are feeding your dog as well as to check if your dog is suffering from any of the above-mentioned issues.
A high-carbohydrate diet is often the culprit. When your dog eats too much carbohydrate, his blood sugar level gets too high.
This has a number of unpleasant physiological effects on your dog, including making him hyperactive and hyper-responsive to his environment and could make him react aggressively to your lovely cat that keeps appearing in his sight.
Persistent Pester By Your Cat Causes Him Stress
A stressed-out dog is an angry dog. An angry dog is a dangerous dog.
If your dog is constantly exposed to too many stimuli and reaches his threshold, well… you know what happens then? He will start to show his aggression!
What can you do about it?
The answer is simple: Give Your Dog Some Quiet Time!
Dogs are similar to humans and need to have some quiet time to recharge and reset their emotional state.
If your cat keeps persistently pestering him and not giving him any “silent” moment to take a nap or rest, you know what will happen?
Just like if you are not getting adequate sleep, you are going to get agitated and throw temper easily. The same goes for your dog.
He may be “telling” your cat “leave me alone” by not responding to her pester but if she keeps doing that up to the point when your dog couldn’t tolerate anymore, he will strike an attack on her.
So it is important that you have a secure place where your dog can get to rest when he is tired and that area should be out of bounds for your cat. A crate could be a good option to consider.
Your Dog Is Overprotective
When your dog is overprotective of his possession, he will not like it when someone (cat) enters his territory or when he feels that there is a risk that the cat is going to take away his possession, especially taking away your attention and love for him.
This possession behavior may lead him to turn aggressive towards the cat.
If you find that whenever you show affection for your cat and your dog will start to get aggressive and attack her, this is a sign of jealousy.
You have to make sure your dog behaves himself and that your cat is safe. Do not make your dog stressed out when your cat is around.
Make your dog stay on his “territory” of the house and have your cat in her “territory”. Make a gate to block the dog from going towards the cat area.
Your cat will feel safe if the dog cannot go near him. Cats can usually jump much higher than dogs, and you can buy her a play tower or cat tree where she can hide and play. This will be her safe haven in case she is being attacked by your dog.
Take turns to pet them so that your dog is aware that he is not going to lose your love for him.
You should also start your dog on socialization training. He needs to learn how to interact with people, dogs, cats, and other pets and not to view them as a threat.
You can take your dog to a dog park where your pooch can play with other dogs and this is a great way for him to socialize and is also a great way for your dog to burn off any excess energy.
Dogs are pack animals and, when they are playing with other dogs, they are learning to “work together” as a team.
This is important for him to learn how to interact and will help him to be more willing to accept another pet such as your cat in his world.
Remember, there is no need for your dog to play with your cat in an adversarial way. Even if your dog has had negative experiences with cats in the past, if he learns to play gently, it can be a great relationship.
However, if he decides to play rough, there will always be a danger of him seriously injuring your cat. Thus, you should only allow him to play freely with your cat when you are VERY sure that he would not react aggressively to her.
If you love both animals, there is no reason why you cannot have both. Both cats and dogs are loyal and dependable, and they will provide you with unconditional love.
Make use of the above tips to introduce the cat to your dog and have both live in harmony.