How to Train Your Dog to Ignore Cats

Medium
2-12 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Do you dream of living in a harmonious household, without any barking, meowing or yelling? If your dog is always bothering your cat and an altercation ensues where there’s barking and hissing everywhere, then now is the time to teach your pooch to leave that cat alone. This will save you a load of worrying about what they’re up to while you can’t keep an eye on them, as well as keeping your two furry best friends safe by having them live in harmony, it will also keep your house safe. Surely, when your dog chases the cat there are furniture and household items that become casualties of the chase. Save yourself a lot of expense by preventing this. Also, imagine how cute it will be when both your four-legged friends can be friends with each other.

Defining Tasks

If you live in a household with a cat, or you’re thinking about getting a cat in a house with a dog, training will be required. Very serious incidents can occur if not, in particular, if your dog is a real hunter the cat can be very seriously injured by the dog. Or, sometimes dominant cats will give dogs a swipe when they bother them, resulting in nasty injuries such as eye ulcers in your pooch, so make sure this doesn’t happen. Certain breeds are easier to train than others; in general, Labradors, retrievers and smaller breeds such as Pomeranians will be easier to train to ignore cats as, although every dog is an individual, these pups have less of a hunting instinct. Breeds such as German shepherds, greyhounds and Jack Russell terriers will be more difficult to train, as they have natural hunting instincts. Puppies with an older cat will be easier to train also and will be less likely to cause injury to a larger cat, therefore it is advisable to train them young. The timeline for training is variable depending on age and breed, but is likely to take weeks to months.

Getting Started

For this training, you’ll have to be both vigilant and determined. If getting a new dog in a cat household, it is advisable that you take a week off work to solidify initial training and prevent anything happening when you’re not around. Invest in a muzzle--begin with using a well fitting muzzle to make sure no harm comes to your feline friend before your pooch understands the rules. Grab a bag of delicious treats, appropriate for your pooch's age and breed or make your own delicious treats at home. Dogs love plain home cooked chicken breast, cut into the correct size pieces. If you’re clicker training your pooch, also grab your clicker to signify good behavior.

The Muzzle Method

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Step
1
Get your pup used to the muzzle
You don’t want your puppy to be afraid of the muzzle, make sure you get him used to it before you put it on, making sure you get one that’s the correct size and comfortable. Then let your puppy sniff it.
Step
2
Use a treat
Put a treat inside the muzzle, holding it in front of your pup like it’s a bowl. Do this a few times so he’s used to it.
Step
3
Fasten it on
Finally, put the muzzle on your pooch and leave it on for a couple of minutes. Take the muzzle off and give your pooch a load of treats as a reward.
Step
4
Always muzzle when unsupervised
Always put the muzzle on your pooch if you can’t supervise him with the cat.
Step
5
Introduce your pup
Introduce your pooch to the cat with a lead and muzzle on to see how he reacts.
Step
6
Rewarding good behavior
Give your pooch a treat and lots of praise if he gently sniffs the cat, ignores the cat, or doesn’t try to chase your feline friend.
Step
7
Bad behavior
If your pooch tries to chase the cat, punish him by putting him in his puppy crate. Then try again, only give treats to reward good behavior.
Step
8
Remove the muzzle
If he’s good on the lead and with the muzzle on, take the muzzle off but leave the lead on so you can pull your dog back if he shows any aggression. Reward your pooch ignoring the cat.
Step
9
Take the muzzle and lead off
If he succeeds in all of the above steps, remove both the muzzle and the lead. Make sure this encounter is still under strict supervision and in an area where you can grab him easily and your cat can escape if necessary, such as a room with a cat flap.
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The No Chasing Method

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Only if your cat is confident
Only use this method if your cat is confident, this is not fair for shy, easily stressed cats.
Step
2
Get the cat carrier
Pop your kitty in their cat carrier with a favorite toy or catnip for distraction. Make sure the carrier is secure.
Step
3
Bring in the pup
Get your puppy in the same room, keeping your pup's attention on you by talking to him and giving him lots of treats, paying attention to reward calm behavior.
Step
4
'Sit' and 'stay'
Get your pooch to sit and stay a few yards away from the cat. Keep practicing these commands, as they will be important in introducing the pair without the carrier.
Step
5
Best treats and reward
Give your pooch the most delicious treats when they don’t pay any attention to the kitty, they need to know you’re rewarding the behavior of ignoring the cat. Use the clicker to click when your pooch looks away from the cat, as well to signify the behavior you want him to display.
Recommend training method?

The Conditioning Method

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Step
1
Keep him on a tight leash
First things first, put your pup on a tight leash to make sure he’s completely under your control and can’t physically chase. You want to prevent chasing behavior rather than stop it.
Step
2
Tasty, exclusive treats
Have lots of tasty, strong smelling treats on you, only giving your pooch these treats for this exercise.
Step
3
Keep it natural
Let your cat move around as much as they normally would, expressing normal behavior. The idea is that the cat catches your pooch's attention, but he becomes used to it and learns to ignore the feline.
Step
4
Cat attention
Every time the cat makes any motion you think might get your pup's attention, click and give a treat to distract your pooch.
Step
5
Cat equals treat
Give your puppy a treat whether he's calm and does not bark at the cat, look at the cat or anything else. You’re teaching your pup that the cat being there means reward in the form of treats.
Step
6
Wait for him to look to you
Once you’ve repeated the above step a few times, your puppy should start looking to you for a treat every time the cat is around, meaning his attention is on receiving a treat and not chasing the cat.
Step
7
Keep practicing
Really get this behavior in his head, by keeping doing it for a few weeks, practicing every day for 5-10 minutes.
Step
8
Safety first
Don’t unleash your pooch until you’re a hundred percent sure he gets it and won’t chase your kitty.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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