Dogs and cats can be known to be best of friends – or worst of foes! For dogs who have not been introduced to cats before, the urge to give chase can occur. When a cat is being chased, it creates a stressful and possibly dangerous environment for the cat and puts them into danger mode. It can also cause accidents for your dog, such as crossing traffic or entering into a hazardous situation.
There are steps you can take to work with your dog to increase their familiarity with cats, as well as develop their recall and obedience training. This will encourage them to pay attention to you during an exciting situation, and help you train them not to chase cats.
Good behaviour begins at home
Before you introduce your dog to a new household family member, such as a cat, be sure to keep them safe and separate for the first few weeks. After that, allowing them to smell each other through a fenced space, like a baby gate, is best. You can also allow your dog to smell cat-related items prior to meeting. Some examples are toys or their bedding. This will help them get used to the cat’s scent. Keeping your dog on a leash may also be a good idea. He or she gets overwhelmed by the exciting presence of the new cat.
Be sure to give your cat a space within your house that is off-limits for your dog. This should be done until they are acclimated to each other. Make sure to never leave a dog and cat alone together unattended. It’s also important to always use positive reinforcement to reward good behaviour. For example, being calm around the cat, sitting when asked or not engaging with the cat. This will encourage your dog’s respect of their new furry friend in your house.
Read more about introducing dogs and cats here on our blog.
Work on canine obedience
You can use treats for both your cat and dog to keep them focused on you instead of each other in those first few meetings. Practice basic verbal cues with your dog such as stay, come, and leave it. You can also try clicker training as a way to create a positive bridge between your dog and your cat. Many dogs respond very well to clicker training when done correctly.
If you are finding your dog is too enthusiastic with your new cat, consider speaking with an experienced professional positive reinforcement based dog trainer or behaviourist. They can help you reinforce your basic training, and provide suggestions to keep both of your furry friends comfortable around each other.
Click to learn more about choosing a dog trainer, and some basic obedience tips for puppies.
In the neighbourhood
Even if your dog is being respectful of cats in your household, always keep your dog on a leash when outside the home. This is not only in case they see a community cat, but for general safety of your dog as well. Keep your dog on a leash unless in a safe and contained place, such as a dog park.
With proper training and methodical steps, many dogs learn respect and will become good friends with their new furry family member! More training tips here on ShelterHealthPro.com