How to Train Your Dog to Get Along with Cats

Hard
1-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

With a full-time job and busy family, many people opt for a low maintenance pet like a cat. But circumstances change and many an animal lover's thoughts then turn to getting a dog. This faces them with the problem of how to stop cats and dogs fighting like...ahem...cats and dogs.

Most dogs can learn to live in peace with a cat, however, some dogs are tougher to train than others. For example, terriers are hard-wired to chase down prey, and seeing a moving target such as a cat, pushes their 'chase' button. If you are in the position of weighing up which dog to get, one option is to make life easier for everyone involved and avoid terrier breeds.

Also, starting out with a puppy is a lot easier than re-educating an adult dog. Puppies that are still within their socialization period (the time when they accept what they see around them as normal) are much quicker to catch on that the cat is a family member and not a toy to chase.

Defining Tasks

Having a dog get along with cats can mean different things to different people. It might be that 'getting along' simply means ignoring one another in a live-and-let-live standoff. It is a rare dog and cat that will snuggle up together, but anything is possible!

Most pet parents would be happy if the cat feels able to stroll around in a relaxed manner and isn't stressed by the dog's presence. Indeed, to facilitate this you can help by providing cat-friendly walkways that are up off the ground (shelving will do it!) When the cat is able to navigate round the room without touching the ground, then she is automatically more at ease.

Getting Started

Chasing behavior is self-rewarding for a dog. Therefore, it pays to start the training early, indeed before the dog and cat meet. Teaching a good solid "Sit" and "Look" enables you to stop the dog in his tracks or distract him when the cat strolls into the room. Interrupting chasing behavior in this way helps keep everyone happy.

Train the dog in several short sessions a few times a day, but keep things light and fun. Praise and reward the dog when he gets things right, and never punish him for making a mistake.

To train a dog to get along with cats you'll need:

  • A collar and leash

  • Tasty treats

  • A friend to assist you

  • A crate for the dog or carrier for the cat

  • A squeaky toy or something to distract the dog

The Beef Up Basic Training Method

Effective
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Beef Up Basic Training method for Get Along with Cats
Step
1
Self control
Until the dog learns not to chase cats, it is your commands that are the dog's self-control. By teaching him a solid "Sit", "Come", or "Look" you can nip chasing behavior in the bud.
Step
2
Teach “Sit”
Hold a treat in front of the dog's nose, so that it gets his attention. Raise the treat in a slow low arc over and behind his head. As his nose follows the treat, his butt sinks to the ground. Say "Sit" in a happy but firm voice, and give him the treat.
Step
3
Practice sit
Keep practicing, and as he learns to follow your hand, start phasing out the treat by rewarding the "Sit" at random
Step
4
Sit in different locations
Once the dog is obeying in a low distraction place, practice with distractions in the environment.
Step
5
Teach "Look"
Show the dog a treat to get his attention. Travel the treat in a straight line from the tip of his nose up to the bridge of your nose. Hold the treat between your eyes and say "Look". Then reward the dog.
Step
6
Extend the look
Expect the dog to hold his 'Look' for longer each time, before he gets a reward. Ultimately he should be able to stare at you for several minutes, which is a great way of distracting him.
Recommend training method?

The Learn to Ignore Method

Effective
0 Votes
Learn to Ignore method for Get Along with Cats
Step
1
Let the dog see the cat
With the dog on a collar and leash, have him sit by your side. Have a friend bring the cat into the room, but at a distance from the dog.
Step
2
Reward calm behavior
If the dog remains calm, praise him and reward his good behavior.
Step
3
Label bad behavior
If the dog lunges toward the cat or starts barking, give a swift tug on the collar along with a sharp "Leave it!"
Step
4
Bring the cat closer
Have the friend bring the cat a little closer. Again, reward the dog's calm behavior. The idea is to teach him that ignoring the cat gets him lots of praise.
Step
5
Supervise interactions
Repeat these encounters, taking things slowly. Have the cat ever closer while rewarding the dog's calm behavior. Once the dog no longer pays attention to the cat, you can start supervising sessions with the cat wandering freely in the room.
Recommend training method?

The Add Crate Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Add Crate Training method for Get Along with Cats
Step
1
Avoid chasing
If the cat sprints away, this triggers the dog's prey drive. Aim to avoid this by crating either the dog or the cat (perhaps alternating the two options). For a dog, this means crate training, or using a carrier for the cat.
Step
2
Dog in the crate
Seed the crate with tasty treats so the dog is happy to enter. Close the door and let him settle.
Step
3
Allow the cat in the room
Now let the cat into the room to stroll around. If the dog is calm, then praise him and feed small treats into the crate. If the dog reacts, say "Leave It" is a stern voice and turn your back on the dog.
Step
4
Cat in the carrier
Alternatively, place the cat in a secure carry box. Place the box on a table or chair (up off the ground).
Step
5
Let the dog investigate
Let the dog approach the carrier calmly (keep him on a lead so he's under control). Reward his calm behavior with praise and treats. If he barks or over reacts say a sharp "Leave it!" and wait for him to calm.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
kyra
Akita
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
kyra
Akita
3 Years

my dog keeps lunging at the cats we have and grunting and wineing at the cat so we dont know what to do as we dont want the dog hurting the cats.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
464 Dog owners recommended

Hello Charlotte, If Kyra is simply acting excited about the cats, like he wants to chase them and be too rough, but not acting like he has a prey drive toward them and wants to kill them intentionally, suggest working on the following commands to teach manners and encourage calmness around the cats: Place command - practice him being able to stay in place when the cats are around. Use Place as somewhere he can go and chew on a chew toy when he gets too excited also. https://youtu.be/omg5DVPWIWo Teach the Out command (which means leave an area) and use it when he is being pushy, overly fixated on, or too close to the cats, to get him to leave the area where they are so he can calm back down. When you enforce this command using your body language like the article mentions you often also communicate that you own the cats and he should respect them because of his respect for you (do not do this if there is true aggression however): https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It command - when teaching this you want the dog to mentally leave something alone and not just be waiting to get it, so when to teach it using treats at first, never give your dog the treat he is supposed to leave, instead feed him a different treat from your other hand when he leaves something alone. Follow the Leave It method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite If you have issues with him listening and respecting house rules in general, then building his respect for you can help with management also. Commands like Down Stay, a structured Heel, and Watch Me help to build respect, in addition to the other commands mentioned above, like Place. Also, making him work for what he wants by doing a command first, like sitting before having a ball thrown, or laying down before being fed, can also help. Also, do not tolerate pushiness, rushing through doors and bumping into you, or other rude behavior. Make him practice politeness when he acts rude, and in general. If his behavior toward the cats is not just roughness and over excitement but is predatory, I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer who has experience with aggression, prey drive, and high level obedience, and can give good referrals or has good recommendations. Prey drive is a more serious situation that often requires in person help. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lady
Shih Tzu
2 Years
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Question
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Lady
Shih Tzu
2 Years

I was dog sitting my mother in laws dog and I have 4 cats and the dog gets after them if they stare,growl,hiss or swat at her and now my mother in law has given her to us permanently and I want to know how to help them get alone

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
464 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stacy, Check out the videos linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojIQmMuOwns I also suggest working on a Place command and rewarding Lady for staying calm on place with the cat in the room, moving around. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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