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 few days off work to solidify initial training and prevent anything happening when you’re not around. Keep the dog and cat separated nonetheless for quite awhile until you know your dog is not going to chase the cat. Make sure your cat always has an easily accessible safe haven to rest in. 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 No Chasing Method

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Step
1
Only if your cat is confident
Only use this method if your cat is confident, this is not fair for shy, easily stressed cats. If your cat is timid, you may see them disappear under the couch and refuse to come out for a while.
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 and comfortable.
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 (in other environments, too), 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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The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Go shopping
Every pup loves a shopping excursion at their favorite pet supply store. Not only do they usually get a biscuit or two, but they also have the opportunity to meet other dogs. Most importantly, a new toy is on the agenda. Buy your dog a toy that really piques their interest.
Step
2
Redirection
The aim of the lesson in ignoring cats is to have your dog redirect their interests elsewhere, other than the cat. Make sure that your dog's new favorite toy is close by.
Step
3
Ignore the cat
Play a game within proximity of the cat (having the cat safely out of reach in a crate). Give your pup the new toy and engage them in play, completely ignoring the cat in the crate. Make sure the cat is not the type easily frightened by a dog.
Step
4
Distract and block
If your dog tries to go near the crate, distract them with the toy and stand between them and the cat. When your dog gains focus on you again and ignores the feline, give them a high reward food treat.
Step
5
Reinforce the ignore
Keep working on reinforcing the ignoring of the cat. You are teaching them that playing and high-reward treats are more fun that looking at the cat.
Step
6
Rewarding good behavior
Eventually, you may have to introduce the dog and cat. After all, they will be existing in the same household. 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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Arlo
Pit bull
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Arlo
Pit bull
1 Year

I recently got a new kitten and arlo isn’t leaving her alone. What are some methods I can use to get him to stop?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, first you have to make sure that the kitten always has a safe and easy access to getting away. A kitten is no match for a persistent dog. I would work on the Crate Intro Method. Have Arlo near the kitten in a cage over and over until he gets used to seeing the kitten. https://wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-kitten. The Controlled Intro Method is also effective but Arlo needs to know the Down-Stay and Leave it Commands. https://wagwalking.com/training/leave-it and https://wagwalking.com/training/perform-the-down-position. Work on those obedience commands as well as any others you have taught him. Work on having him listen at every instance. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you. Practice the Consistency Method. Never leave the two unattended. Good luck!

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Question
Aria
Pit bull
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Aria
Pit bull
10 Months

I want my dog to ignore cats. My neighbor has a cat and when she sees the cat she barks like crazy. Also on walks she really pulls me to chase any stray cat she sees and she's getting heavy. I'm afraid I won't be able to hold her if she grows more. How do I learn her to ignore cats (I don't have a pet cat to get her familiar with it)

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hello, the first thing to do is let your neighbor know about Aria's feelings about the cat to give the neighbor the opportunity to make sure the cat is kept out of your yard. I suggest that you enroll Aria in obedience classes right away. It is vital that you can handle her in every situation. It's only fair that you train her so that she can be the best she can be. Group classes socialize a dog and help to cement a bond between owner and dog. All of the basic commands are met and you are given the tools to know how to practice. You'll learn how to stop her from pulling etc. Until you start class, work on her heel skills: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. The Turns Method is an excellent way to keep Aria focused and not thinking about anything (like cats) except for the training session. Work on it on every walk! Good luck!

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Question
Juno
Boxer
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Juno
Boxer
5 Years

She jumped a cat this morning. Thankfully she hardly has any teeth, but i dont want it happening again. we live in a place with a lot of cats running around.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Juno needs to learn that the cats are just a normal part of his environment. So we need to teach him to become less excited by the cats. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking him around the cats while on leash. Any time he even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cats, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cat, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until he is no longer interested in the cats. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
maple
Australian Cattle Dog Mix
1 Year
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
maple
Australian Cattle Dog Mix
1 Year

She has a high drive and instinct to chase the cat. She doesn't care what treats or food you have, her focus is on the cat. I normally have her out on a leash with the cat, and she constantly tries to lunge and chase. She managed to chase the cat a few times already.The cat likes to be chased and 'teases' my dog my walking around and trying to get close. my dog won't bite cat, just wants to play. I don't know how to have them possibly coexist when she doesn't want to listen to me whatsoever.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alana, I suggest hiring a trainer to help you in this case. Look for someone with a lot of experience with behavior issues, impulse control, and prey drive. Check out the videos linked below. How to tackle this depends a lot on the severity of the issue - since pup hasn't tried to bite the cat that is a good sign. This may be more of a herding behavior than a true prey driven instinct - which is still an instinct but just not as dangerous. If this is herding based behavior, then some of the milder, impulse control, structured activities may be enough. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the cat in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Reward pup for any calmness and tolerance around the cat throughout the day. You can also practice other exercises that keep pup's attention - like games and training exercises with the cat in the background - rewarding pup for focus on you, to help desensitize pup even more to the cat. Place - two ways to teach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjCcVXGFvTs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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