Plenty of dogs and cats harmoniously share their homes. Sometimes there is a natural simpatico rapport. Dogs with social savvy read and respect feline signals as well as fellow canine ones. Often, though, we owners must train in a few skills so no one is injured due to size disparity or precision claw strikes.
A few reliable obedience cues and a management plan work well with daily practice. Each species learns to respect the other’s space as well as our boundaries.
Train In “Sit and Wait”
It’s not so difficult for a dog to remain calm and unengaged when the cat is stationary. An appropriate approach can turn into a chase, if the cat decides to make a run for it. Then, there’s the cat who instigates…..
An attached leash or drag line can help manage the dog’s behavior as training begins. De-sensitize the dog to the cat’s movements using a “sit and wait” cue chain. Start working at a distance where the dog can successfully pay attention to the handler. Reinforce his looking at the moving cat while responding to your “sit and wait” with a bite of fabulous food. Gradually decrease the distance between dog and moving cat as your dog responds correctly.
But Cat Chasing is Fun!
The fun that your dog has chasing the cat is very gratifying. For some dogs, it’s the premier form of entertainment. Enhance your dog’s routine with other forms of enrichment and mentally stimulating activities. Use food foraging toys for as many meals as possible and carve out a 5-10 minute playtime (or three) with you. We can all be more fun than a cat! (Note: I love cats, too.)
What About Prey Drive?
Despite one’s best efforts, some dogs have very high prey drives. How do you remove prey drive from a predator? You don’t remove it, but one attempts to redirect it and find other outlets for it. Before adopting an adolescent or adult dog, it would be prudent (and only fair to both dog and cat) to assess the dog’s reaction to the cat and evaluate whether they are a good match.
Copyright © Kimberly B. Mandel CPDT-KA, 2019 all rights reserved
Kimberly Mandel Canine Behavior and Training LLC