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How to Train Your Border Collie Dog to Not Chase Cats

How to Train Your Border Collie Dog to Not Chase Cats
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Your Border Collie is probably tenacious and full of life. These high energy dogs have a lot of steam to blow off. Needless to say, their confident and eager nature sometimes lands them in trouble. Your street has several cats that call it home. Your Border Collie loves nothing more than chasing these cats. His tail may be wagging, but they look nothing short of terrified. It was amusing to start with, but now it’s starting to affect relations with the neighbors.

Training him not to chase cats is essential if you want to keep the peace. It’s also important because you don’t want anything more sinister to take place if he catches a cat. If he causes a cat any harm you may find some hefty vet bills land in your lap. Worse still, if he continues to chase and attack animals he may have to be put down.

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Defining Tasks

Training a dog not to chase cats is never easy. It can be even harder when you need to tackle the behavior in Border Collies. That’s because they naturally enjoy chasing animals. It’s in their blood to herd livestock. However, with the right incentive, you can channel their energy into something more productive. You’ll also need to use a number of deterrents to make them think twice.

If he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner. You could see results in just a couple of weeks. If he’s older, stubborn and this habit has been developing for many years, you may have your work cut out. You could need up to a month. Get this training right though, and you’ll never have to panic when you hear a cat screech, or your dog disappears.

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Getting Started

Before training can begin you’ll need several items. For one of the methods, you’ll need baby gates and a water spray bottle. You’ll also need some toys and a long leash.

Stock up on high value treats that he can't resist or break your Border Collie's favorite food into small pieces. Set aside any time for tackling the problem and be on hand as much as possible to react to any situations.

The only other thing you need is patience and a can-do attitude. Once you have all of that, you can get to work!

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The Distraction Method

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Extracurricular activity

Border Collies excel at skills like agility, flyball, and obedience trials. Join a club to learn the ropes and add to socialization. Build an agility course in the backyard and practice often. Soon, your dog will see the yard as a place to play and won't need to scout for cats. He'll be tired, too.

2

Tug of war

Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. This is the ideal place for him to release any aggression and blow off steam. If he’s tired he won’t have the energy to chase the cat anyway.

3

Reward

Whenever he’s in the presence of a cat and is calm, you should reward him. Give him gentle words of praise and hand over the odd treat. You are giving him an incentive to behave around cats in the future.

4

Remove him

As soon as he stops being calm, take him by the collar and remove him from the room. Give him a minute to cool off and then bring him back into the room. Border Collies are highly intelligent, so he’ll quickly catch on.

5

Consistency

It’s important you react every single time. To fully stamp out the behavior, there can be no mishaps. You must show him every time that the behavior won’t be tolerated . Each occasion that he’s allowed to chase without any repercussions is further you push back the end goal.

The Environment Method

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Cat haven

If you have cats in your house you need to make sure they have a safe space they can escape to. This could mean fitting cat flaps in doors so they always have an escape. If you want them to feel safe in the house, then this is essential.

2

Get him early

Try and bring your Border Collie into the home as early as possible. Dogs that grow up with cats from just a few weeks old see them as family. This means they’re less likely to display signs of aggression and chase them.

3

Encourage socialization

When he’s young, encourage them to play together. You must make sure you monitor them all the time to ensure the play is calm and comfortable for both parties. If they interact when they’re young, problems in the future can be prevented.

4

Exercise

Border Collies need lots of exercise. If they don’t get enough they have to look to other ways to blow off steam, such as chasing cats. So, give him an extra long walk or throw a ball while you do walk. The frequent sprinting will leave him napping in the evenings instead of causing trouble.

5

Never punish him

Try not to shout or terrify him when you catch him chasing cats. This could make him defensive and then aggressive. It could also make him resent cats more. Instead, you need to be calm and collected whenever you do have to react. Remove him from the scene of the crime quietly.

The Deterrence Method

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Baby gates

They’re easy to fit and they could completely remove any temptation. If your Border Collie chases a cat in your house, then use baby gates to keep him isolated from your cat. If you place one on your back door it will also stop him charging into the yard to chase any cats out there.

2

‘NO’

Dogs look to their owners for guidance and support. So, if you react with a firm ‘NO' every time he chases a cat, then he will quickly understand you do not want to see this type of behavior. Hold eye contact when you give your disapproval.

3

Water spray bottle

If the ‘NO’ instruction doesn’t work then you can upgrade to the water bottle. Give it a quick spray near his face whenever he gives chase. This negative consequence will make him think twice next time.

4

Obedience brush up

Border Collies are one of the smartest breeds around. That doesn't mean that he doesn't need a little reinforcement of his commands. Work on his recall skills, his down, and his stay, all useful commands in this situation.

5

Long leash

You can secure him to an extra long leash when you’re at home. The leash should give him enough space to roam around the yard and the house, but it should stop him being able to chase a cat any further. Put simply, if he can’t catch any cats he’ll quickly start giving up.

By James Barra

Published: 12/20/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Shylo

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Border-Aussie

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8 Months

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Question

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Mauls our outdoor cat and we are worried she is going to end up killing it. Our other dog is friendly to the cat and the cat is overly friendly and doesn’t understand the current danger. I think toys that can be perceived similar are a bad thing so have removed them. Looking for some help

May 9, 2022

Shylo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Russel, Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining. He has a Youtube channel. He works with dogs that chase and sometimes will kill animals, usually livestock but the training process is similar for all outdoor animals. How you train will also partially depend on the severity of pup's prey drive toward the cat. Sometimes the harm is meant as rough play and pup just needs to learn to give the cat space and not chase. Sometimes the intent is to hurt or kill the cat as part of pup's prey drive - which is a more severe case. 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 More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 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. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 9, 2022

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Oakley

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Border Collie

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9 Weeks

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We got this puppy a week ago and he is fixated on our cat. Chases him at every opportunity and stares him down if he cannot get to him. We have baby gates up we firmly say no each time he does it and have recently started with a spray bottle. Nothing seems to phase him. I am concerned this cannot be corrected and I feel bad for our cats who are now traumatized. Can this behavior be corrected or are some dogs just always aggressive towards cats? Also he gets plenty of exercise… we have a dog he plays with, a yard, we walk him, and take him to the park to run. Please help

Jan. 30, 2022

Oakley's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Nika needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less reactive by the cat. 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.

Jan. 30, 2022


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