A large German shepherd, Duchess, has decided that the neighborhood cats should not be in her yard. That may be the case and she may have a valid point, however, those cats are your neighbor's beloved pets. One day, Duchess manages to catch and kill the tabby cat that lives next door, who happens to belong to a 6-year-old girl, who is now devastated by the loss of her pet. You feel awful, and now your neighbors hate you and your cat-killing dog. If you want to get along with your neighbors, and your dog is aggressive towards cats, you are going to have to teach her not to kill cats before something like this occurs!
If you have a cat or live in an area where your dog is regularly exposed to cats, having a dog that is aggressive towards cats is an accident waiting to happen, and steps to correct this behavioral tendency are required immediately to prevent tragedy. While cats and dogs have often traditionally been thought of as enemies, this does not have to be the case. Many thousands of dogs and cats share homes together quite happily, play together, and develop close friendships.
Because cats are smaller than most dogs, there is a tendency for dogs to see cats as prey. Teaching your dog not to attack cats will mean making sure that your dog sees cats as members of the household, or companions, not prey. Because the consequences of unsuccessful training are so severe, you will need to take special precautions during training to ensure that a cat is not injured during the process. During the training period, you will need to make sure that your dog never has uncontrolled access to a cat. If you have a cat in your household, this may mean providing separate quarters for the dog and the cat during training. Some dogs with a high prey drive may need continued supervision over a very extended period of time when in the presence of a cat, to ensure that they do not harm the cat even after initial training success.
A dog that is socialized from a young age with cats is far less likely to develop cat killing behavior. An older dog that has been aggressive to cats and has developed aggressive tendencies towards cats will be more difficult to train. There are some steps prior to training that you can take which will reduce aggression towards cats and other animals; spay or neuter your dog, ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise and attention, and provide him his own toys to keep himself occupied, so he is not as likely to become bored or frustrated and turn aggression to other small animals. Teaching your dog not to view cats as prey is key to training him not to kill cats and is vitally important to the safety of our feline friends.
Before training your dog to stop chasing cats, you will need to make sure that there is a safe, controlled environment for your dog and any cats involved in the training exercises. You should consider making sure the dog cannot hurt your feline helper, by putting on a basket muzzle, using a short leash, and working in an enclosed area with a safe retreat for the cat. A crate to keep your feline assistant safe and give the cat a feeling of protection drug training may be useful.
We just adopted Bodie and he attacked our cat this morning. After getting them apart, neither appears to have serious injuries. We don’t want to have to choose between the two, but Can’t allow him to hurt the cat. Help?
Hello Jennie, While this is a serious issue, the good news is that your dog did not seriously injure or kill your cat during the interaction, that shows a certain level of control on your dog's part. Is Bodie bothering your cat in general or does your cat initiate the confrontations? If your dog is bothering your cat, then the easiest thing to do is to teach your dog to avoid your cat altogether. You can do this in a couple of ways. The first way to teach this, is to heavily reward your dog for going to a certain location whenever your cat is present. You can teach your dog the "Place" command, and have your dog's place be somewhere like a dog bed set out in your living room. Whenever your cat approaches, send your dog to his "Place" and insist that he stay there by taking him back if he gets up, then reward him whenever he remains there. When you start this, reward him when he first goes there and also every two minutes.. Overtime, gradually increase the amount of time between rewards. For example, at first reward him every two minutes, then every three minutes, then every five, every seven, every ten, and so forth, until he must remain there for thirty minutes before receiving a reward. Do not let him up until you have told him "OK" or your cat has left. This will help him to control his urge to chase your cat by giving him something else to do and by improving his self-control, but it will also help him to enjoy the presence of your cat. Another option is to train him using a remote electronic training collar to avoid your cat. For this you will need to purchase a high quality electric collar such as a collar made by: E-Collar Technologies, Garmin, SportDog, or Dogtra. Do not go with less expensive brands that only have a handful of electric stimulation levels. A good quality collar will have at least sixty levels, so that you can use the lowest level needed and adjust the collar very gradually when needed. Other brands can be faulty, overly sensitive, and downright dangerous. Other brands are the ones you will hear horror stories of if you look online. Of the brands mentions, the E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator is the most versatile for the price. To properly use an electric collar, find an experienced trainer in your area to help you. Electric collars are fabulous tools when used correctly, and they are one of the only ways to effectively stop a dog from chasing prey, but when used wrong they can also cause serious issues, so get help from someone who knows how to use one correctly. A lot of things go into using an electric collar properly, including proper understanding of training principles, proper understanding of canine body language, proper fitting of the collar, proper understanding of basic collar training, such as how to find your dog's appropriate stimulation level and how to keep your dog from becoming collar wise, as well as timing, communication, and awareness of the pitfalls, so that you can avoid them. With that said, if you have the right experience and knowledge or help, they do work incredibly well. If your cat is initiating the confrontations, then your best option is to either confine your cat or to find someone who is experienced in training cats to work with your cat, to teach him to leave your dog alone. Many cats are the initiators of confrontation with dog's so do not assume that your dog is the problem until you have watched the two together for a bit. The problem also might be both your cat and your dog, which means that both need to learn to avoid each other. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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