How to Train Your Dog to Not Kill Cats

Hard
1-2 Months
Behavior

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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.

The Desensitizing Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Contain cat
Put your “volunteer cat” in a hard sided carrier for protection. You can give the cat a toy or catnip to keep her happy during the training time.
Step
2
Introduce dog
Introduce the dog or puppy into the room. Give the dog lots of treats and attention to keep him focused on you. Play with the dog and practice obedience commands in the presence of the cat in the carrier.
Step
3
Claim cat space
If the dog lunges towards the cat or pays attention to the cat say “no” and insert your body between the cat and the dog to regain his attention.
Step
4
Reinforce ignoring the cat
As soon as the dog pays attention to you and not the cat, resume giving attention, play, and treats. Wait until your dog learns to ignore the presence of the cat in the carrier.
Step
5
Use leash
Start allowing the cat in the room, out of the carrier. Put your dog on a leash and repeat previous steps until your dog learns that ignoring the cat means rewards, while paying attention to the cat means no reward.
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The Alternative Behavior Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Control dog
Find a safe place, such as inside a house or in an enclosed yard. Attach a leash to your belt with your dog fastened, and have treats available in your hand. Your dog should already have mastered the 'sit' command.
Step
2
Introduce cat and ask for alternative
Have your cat, or a friend's cat, present. When the cat appears, ask your dog to sit and look at you. If your dog sits and give you his attention, give him a treat. If he does not pay attention to your command but lunges toward the cat, pull the dog away from the cat and repeat the 'sit' command. Repeat this until you are far enough away from the cat that your dog obeys your sit command and ignores the cat, then give a reward.
Step
3
Increase proximity
Repeat this process, until your dog can be close to the cat and obey the 'sit' and 'look at me' commands appropriately. When the dog starts sitting and looking at you automatically in response to seeing the cat, you can put your dog on a longer leash, 8-10 feet in length.
Step
4
Move away from dog
Attach the long leash to a fixed point and move away from your dog. When the cat comes into view, your dog should sit and look at you. Give your dog a treat. If he lunges at or pull towards the cat, go back to previous step.
Step
5
Establish off leash
Take your dog off leash and allow your dog to be present with the cat. If your dog sits and looks for his treat, reward him. If he runs to the cat, go back to step 4. Make sure the dog is muzzled and the cat has an escape route so the cat is not in danger. During the training period, make sure your dog never has access to chase the cat. This may mean separating them physically to different parts of the house if they live together.
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The Consequences Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Prepare negative consequence
This method may be required if the dog is aggressive towards cats in the neighborhood and there is little opportunity to achieve socialization or controlled behavior and the dog is posing a danger to himself and the cat. Fit your dog with a shock collar and have a whistle on hand. Muzzle the dog, and put the dog on a leash to maintain control and keep the cat safe.
Step
2
Approach cat
Approach cat with your dog on a leash.
Step
3
Warn and shock
When your dog lunges toward the cat, let out a blast on the whistle. If the dog continues towards the cat, engage the shock collar. Pull or signal your dog back to you. When your dog returns, carry on in another direction.
Step
4
Reward leaving the cat
Repeat this exercise multiple times over a period of several days. If the dog responds to the whistle alone, call him and give him a treat for returning to you without chasing the cat. If the dog lunges at the cat after hearing the whistle, engage the shock collar.
Step
5
Establish
Increase length of leash, then practice off leash with a muzzle to protect the cat. Repeat until your dog does not approach the cat, as he has come to associate cats with negative consequences.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bodie
Boxer
1 Year
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Bodie
Boxer
1 Year

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?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

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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Question
Steve
pit bull terrier
Three Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Steve
pit bull terrier
Three Years

We adopted a 6 year old cat from a shelter we are all in love with him so I pray I can make this work Smaller pit on the left has been around small animals and did not show aggression to our new cat but was only introduced shortly
We tried to introduce Steve our 3 yr old and he’s so lovable I did not foresee his aggressiveness and I lost my hold on him he lunged at the now running trying to hide cat I broke it up before the worse happened and the cat was not harmed just traumatized 😪
Is it possible with veterinary training to train the aggressive kill prey my beloved dog obviously has or do I admit we can’t and give up our new very beloved cat
Please help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christina, When a cat does not live with a dog it is possible to train the dog to avoid cats, and when a dog is a puppy still the puppy can often be trained to get along with cats, and when a dog is simply chasing or afraid of a cat but does not intend to kill the cat, that dog can often be trained, but because your dog is an adult and the attack was likely based on a predatory instinct, it is very unlikely that the two animals will ever be able to safely live in the same house as each other. With a lot of work it is probably possible to get Steve to the point where he would avoid the cat most of the time and become more tolerant of it in general, but it would only take one wrong interaction to lead to the worst outcome, so it is probably much safer to avoid that possibility altogether. Essentially you could manage the aggression but probably not get rid of it. There is a very small chance that the aggression is based on something other than predatory instinct, in which case you might be able to successfully use behavioral modification to address it. You would need a professional trainer very familiar with different types of aggression to do an evaluation though in order to tell. Honestly, it is very unlikely that it the aggression is caused by something else though, so the chance of success is very small, and it would not be a simple solution. Addressing aggression like what you described, in any form, takes a lot of time and work. I am so sorry that the animals do not get along. I know that must be heart breaking. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sophia
pit mix
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sophia
pit mix
4 Years

Hi i need help. My dog Sophia has killed 10 cats with in a half of a year and the last one I could not stop her. Is there a way that I can have her and a cat? She is an outdoor farm dog and she has killed all our barn cats and one that was a stray. I love her and I adopted her after she was abandoned on a road side and don’t want her to feel abandoned again if I sell her.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mya, Unfortunately the answer is no. Because she has killed such a large number of cats, she cannot ever safely live in close contact with a cat. She had almost certainly killed the cats due to a predatory instinct, and although you can manage that instinct with the right tools and training, you cannot remove it, and if she lived with a cat managing that instinct would be too hard to guarantee safety for the cat. It may be possible to teach her to avoid future neighborhood cats who are very far away by hiring a competent local dog trainer who has extensive experience using Electric Collars. Using an Electric Collar and proper avoidance training she likely could be taught to avoid cats who are far away, but she will never be safe in the same household as a cat, and her desire to kill them will never make her completely safe without supervision. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gracie
black mouth cur
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gracie
black mouth cur
11 Months

Hi, we just adopted Gracie alittle over a wk ago. We have a resident senior cat. We have sectioned off our home by a gate. We gave our senior cat Minu our bedroom side and Gracie the living room/kitchen. We let Minu free and he has been coming out more frequently the past couple days. When he is out, we put Gracie on a leash. We are trying to train Gracie to pay attention to us over Minu. Everything was going great . They both sniffed each other & was face to face. Never any hissing or growling. Gracie's ears are always up. My husband felt confident 2 nights ago to let Gracie off leash in our living room, he looked around and thought he didn't see Minu but he was sleeping on our kitchen chair. When Gracie seen Minu, they did a little chase around our table, still no hissing or growling. My husband stopped it very fast. Put the leash back on Gracie and Minu was standing on the other side of the gate unharmed and not afraid. Today Minu came out & Gracie is on the leash. They looked at each other and Gracie wagged her tail. I don't feel like Gracie has it in her to harm Minu, she could be trying to play. I guess I just need to see how you feel and if we should continue doing what we are or try something else? ?
Thank you,
Carrie

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carrie, Gracie may very well just be trying to play with Minu. Keep the leash on and the animals separated when the leash is off for at least a couple of weeks though. You need Gracie to get familiar enough with Minu that she considers her part of the family and Minu becomes boring to her from constantly being around her without excitement. I would have to evaluate Gracie in person to see if she is prey driven toward the cat, but typically prey drive looks tense, with a fixed glare, quivering, drooling, or stalking. Not always but those are more indicative of prey drive. Excitement tends to look more relaxed, loose tail wagging (not stiff), and grinning or calm. Chasing can end in disaster simply because one animal is so much bigger but the intention is often different and the chasing can be addressed (prey drive cannot be ended - only managed). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Elvis
Mix
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Elvis
Mix
4 Years

Hi Caitlin, I have a 5 year old lab/pit/hound mix that is a foster failure. I've owned him for 2 years.

He's a big loveable goofball but protective and has been aggressive towards other dogs. He's bit 2 other dogs that needed vet trips. Seems if the dog he's introduced to shows any aggression, he attacks. He has gotten significantly better since I've had him but I still proceed with great caution when introducing him to new dogs.

Most concerning is he killed one of my mom's cats this morning. I have 3 cats and another dog, they are not scared of him and don't run when he approaches, they even "groom" him and he licks them so he obviously considers them part of his pack.

I don't think he set out to attack mom's cat this morning, I think he just chased her as if it were a game, but no doubt when cornered the cat got defensive. His muzzle is scratched up so he didn't come away unscathed.

He is a very submissive dog when corrected so I feel like he can be trained to leave strange cats alone, just like any suggestions you can offer on how to proceed.

I'm heartbroken over what's happened this morning. At the moment all I can do is apologize to my mom and promise never to bring him over there again.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Benjamin, It sounds like Elivis has an extremely low bite threshold and a lack of self-control in adrenaline inducing situations. In other words when he gets into a confrontational situation he lacks self-control emotionally and physically. What this means is that he cannot be trusted around other dogs and cats he does not have a history with period. He may be fine one moment and lashing out the next, and it will often be with only slight warnings. With that said, get him used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle for dog introductions. A soft silicone basket muzzle will be more comfortable, will allow him to open his mouth while wearing it, and will have larger holes that you can pass treats through to him. He shouldn't be meeting any dogs without it. That is not to say don't have him meet dogs though, but use this tool when doing it. To get him used to wearing a muzzle, show him the muzzle and give him a treat every time that you show it to him, he touches it, sniff it, or looks at it. When he is comfortable with that, then touch it to his face, immediately remove it, and give him a treat. Practice that until he is comfortable with that. After that, hold the muzzle onto his face without attaching it, and feed him treats through the muzzle holes while you hold it. Practice that until he is comfortable with that. When he is comfortable with that, then put the muzzle on him and feed him treats through the holes for five minutes, then take it off again. Repeat this and gradually increase the amount of time that he wears the muzzle for and how long he goes between treat rewards, until he can wear the muzzle for an hour without treats, and is relaxed. When Elvis can wear a muzzle, then put the muzzle on him while you are teaching him to avoid cats. For the next part, honestly you should hire a trainer with extensive experience using Electric Collars. You will need to teach him to avoid cats even when they are running or being antagonistic. You can somewhat teach him using positive reinforcement only, but you will need an Electric remote training collar to ensure consistent obedience and in the case of the cats, this is life or death so you need consistency. Look up Jamie Penrith from TakeTheLeadDogTraining on Youtube. He has videos where he talks about ending livestock chasing behaviors in dogs. He is also a great resource for learning more about electric collars. First, spend time getting Elvis used to wearing a muzzle, then purchase a high quality electric collar, such as Dogtra, Sportdog, or e-collar technologies. Don't buy a cheap one. cheap ones can be dangerous. Cheap ones are what you hear horror stories about. Garmin also makes a good one but you will need one with a dial that controls the stimulation levels and theirs only has buttons for adjusting the levels. Have your dog wear this collar for at least two weeks around the house and outside during the day without turning it on. You need your dog to get used to the collar and forget that he is wearing it before you use it for training, or your dog will associate the training with the collar and will only be obedient consistently while he is wearing the collar. You need for him to first get used to the collar on his neck without it being essentially. When you have done that, then hire a trainer with electric collar experience and tell them that you want to teach your dog to avoid cats. This trainer should help you determine what stimulation level the collar should be set at your dog, set up multiple scenarios with cats to do the training, and teach you what you need to do to maintain the training. The stimulation collar settings are unique to every dog. Some dogs are more sensitive than others and each collars levels work slightly different, so a 10 on one collar might not even be a tingle and a 10 on another level might be way too high. The collar also needs to be fitted high on your dogs neck so that it does not slide down, and tight enough for both metal pieces to be touching his skin without constricting breathing at all. This is important because looser can cause your dog not to feel the sensation every time, which might cause you to go up too high a level to get a response. It will also give inconsistent responses which is bad for training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lui
hound mix
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lui
hound mix
5 Months

My husband and I recently adopted our dog Lui who’s 5-6 months old. We have 2 cats at home who are extremely friendly and loving, not instigators at all. When Lui first saw the cats he went ballistic, chased them and could not be re-directed. We now have the cats in our bedroom with their food/water/litter box and a baby gate in the doorway to stop Lui from entering. He will often go up to the gate and growl/bark if he thinks he sees a cat. We’ve tried the re-introduce them but the dog goes so crazy and scares the cats. When he’s out walking he occasionally with bark at people/ other dogs but isn’t phased by squirrels or rabbits. What can I do to stop him from attacking my cats? Will he ever be able to be around them and not want to attack them? I just don’t know if it’s safe to have him in our home with the cats here.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ann, Some dogs can never live with cats because of a strong prey drive. Lui is still young and you mentioned that he does not seem to have a strong prey drive with other animals. It might just be the excitement of the cats in his own home. Teach him a "Down" command. Have him in the "Down" position with a leash on him, attached to a front clip harness or collar that he cannot slip out of. Step on his leash while he is laying down, so that it will quickly stop him if he tries to get up but not be uncomfortable if he stays down. Have another person bring a cat in, at first in a carrier, from the very far end of the room, as far away as you can but where Lui can still see it. Keep your foot firmly on his leash and be ready to keep him there. Remind him to "Down" when the cat first enters, and if he makes any attempt to listen and do it, then give him a ton of treats, one tiny treat at a time for several minutes, as long as he is being at all calm. You can use his own dog food for this if he likes it. If he tries to jump up and fight you to get free, which he likely will, then stay firm, keep the leash to the floor so that he cannot get up all of the way, until he either gets quiet for a second or lays back down. When he gets quiet or lays down, then reward him a bunch, one treat at a time. Expect this to take a very long time for him to get quiet or lay down the first few times. An hour would not be unheard of, at least fifteen minutes is to be expected. The goal is to give him enough time to get bored with the cat and give up for even a second, so that you can then reward his calmer behavior to show him what to do. Practice this often, feed your cat special cat safe treats through the cat carrier holes while doing this, to help relieve his stress during the barking. When your dog gets to the point where he can tolerate the cat in the carrier from far away, then gradually decrease the distance, until finally, with practice, Lui can stay calm and earn his treats while the carrier is only a few feet away. When he can handle the carrier close by, then carry the cat in without the carrier but start from far away again and work up to Lui as Lui improves. This will take frequent practice, time, and two people. If Lui is able to improve, then there is a good chance that he can learn to coexist with the cats with time. If he shows no improvement, then he may not be able to live with the cats. If he shows improvement, then the next step is to get Lui used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle by pairing the muzzle with treats to get him used to it gradually, and then doing up close introductions on a leash with treats without a lot of movement from the cat. The cats moving around him will be the final step. Use a basket muzzle for this because the basket muzzle will let him open his mouth inside it and will have some holes, to let you slip treats through to reward him with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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

How do I stop her from wanting to attack my cat Fiona every time I walk zena

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Felisha, If your cat is an outdoor cat, that Zena only sees while outside, then you can simply teach Zena a strong avoidance of the cat. If Zena wants to kill your cat because of prey drive, then a strict avoidance is your only safe option other than getting rid of an animal. Check out the YouTube channel that I have linked below and the videos on breaking livestock chasing behaviors by Jamie Penrith. I highly recommend hiring an experienced trainer who is extremely experienced with e-collars, also uses positive reinforcement the majority of the time for teaching other things, and can follow the methods from Jamie Penrith's videos. If your dog has any history of aggression toward people, be sure to inform your trainer and do not attempt to train this yourself because your dog will be in a highly aroused state around the cat. Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Brinks
German Shepherd
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Brinks
German Shepherd
2 Years

HELP:

Ok it’s been a month now since we got boy and he still can’t control himself to try to get my cats! We’ve made headway, the cats attempt to come out but he’s bolted at them and he’ll stop when I tell him but it’s a close call! Today we had one come out and I held his collar then she went back and I let him go to the gate. He did great! Then... I sat at the gate with both of them, stuck my arm threw the gate to pet the cat then as she got close he bolted and went to snap at her! It was very very close this time. I told him no and to go outside. Is this a losing battle am I being realistic that they will ever be able to coexist?! I can’t afford a trainer just need advice!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, First of all, before trying anything else have Brinks wear a soft silicone basket muzzle whenever the cats are anywhere where he might get to them, even if you are present. The silicone will be more comfortable and the muzzle's basket shape will let him open his mouth and also receive treats through the holes. Be cautious still while he is wearing this because he could squish the cat still, but this will remove part of the danger of having the animals under the same roof. Many dogs get used to the muzzles and do not mind them after a while if you introduce it properly. To get him used to wearing a muzzle, show him the muzzle and give him a treat. Practice that until he likes it's presence. Next, touch the muzzle to him and give him a treat. Practice that until he does not mind being touched. Next, hold the muzzle against his face briefly and give him a treat. practice that until he is comfortable with it. Next, hold the muzzle against his face for longer and feed him treats through the muzzle's holes while you hold it against him. When he is comfortable with that last step, then strap the muzzle on him and feed him treats while he is wearing it. After a few minutes of being given occasional treats, take it off again. Gradually increase how long he wears it for until he can wear it for long periods of time without being given treats and act normally. Space the treats out gradually while he is wearing the muzzle to phase them out overtime. Expect it to take him a couple of weeks to get to the point where he can wear the muzzle for long periods of time. Whether or not he will get used to the cat depends a lot on why he is going after them. If he simply finds it interesting and fun to chase, the you can likely train him to leave the cat alone. If he is going after the cat because of prey drive, then you will always have to keep them separate. You can teach a prey driven dog to leave cats outside alone using an e-collar and aversion training but you can never ensure that your own cat will be one-hundred percent safe under the safe roof all of the time. The dog will not be able to avoid the cat well enough. Using the muzzle should help you assess that better. Does your dog act happy and excited around the cat and have playful body language or does he fixate on the cat and stare it down intently. The later is more likely prey drive. The former can be playfulness. The playfulness can be dangerous because even a playful dog might get too excited and hurt or kill a cat, but it is not that dog's intention and can be more easily trained. Look into E-collar training. Look up Jamie Penrith from taketheleaddogtraining on Youtube. He does electric, AKA e-collar, training and works on breaking dogs of livestock chasing habits. He also has general videos on how to properly fit and use electric collars. Also, look up videos of dogs in prey drive mode and play mode and watch the dog's body language to gain insight into whether your dog is trying to play or kill the cats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ringo
Boxer pit bull
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ringo
Boxer pit bull
5 Years

I’ve had a new kitten for a week and a half. I have tried introducing her to my dog slowly. I have allowed him to be near her with a leash on and a muzzle and he constantly lunges at her. He gets obsessed and won’t listen to commands. Can I ever break him of his strong prey drive? I do t want my new cat to be at risk, but I don’t want to give up to soon. Is there any hope?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sherri, Due to your dog's age and reaction there is a good chance that he will not adjust, but a week and a half is too soon to tell. I would suggest working on the training for a full month if that is an option. Continue using the leash and muzzle and making sure that they cannot get to one another when you are not supervising, such as night. Correct Ringo for fixating on the cat or acting aggressively toward the cat but also reward and praise him a lot for calming down near the cat, being nice toward the cat, and ignoring the kitten. Also, practice having the cat on the far end of the room somewhere safe like a crate or with another person and practicing Ringo's obedience exercises with the cat in the background but not close. You want him to subconsciously begin to tune the cat out while he is focusing on something else. Reward his obedience, focus on you, and calm behavior while you do this. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cookie
Dachshund
5 Years
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Question
1 found helpful
Cookie
Dachshund
5 Years

Hello! My Cookie is a female dachshund that never got pregnant, but had episodes of false pregnancy (including swollen breasts and being protective over plush toys). She has a prey drive instinct, she killed a few birds and a baby possum before. She never had contact with a cat, only passers by in the street and she barks at them. I found this stray kitten, he's not with me right now because I wanted to know if is safe for them to live together. Do you think that maybe my dog would care for the kitten because is a baby and she never had a puppy?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Luiza, Because she has killed several small animals before there is a food chance that she would attack a kitten. The only way to know for sure is to introduce them carefully and decide based on her reaction. To introduce you could get Cookie used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle ahead of time and introduce them while she is wearing the muzzle and on a leash for the kitten's safety. If she fixates on it or stalks it, then that is a predatory response. If she seems caring or excited but not at all aggressive towards it, then she might be able to get used to it. To get her used to wearing a muzzle show her the muzzle and feed her a treat everytime you show her it. Repeat until she is comfortable looking at it. Next, touch it to her and give her a treat each time you do so. Repeat until she is happy and relaxed with that. Next, hold it against her muzzle briefly and give her a treat through the muzzle's holes. Repeat that until she is comfortable with that. Next, hold it against her muzzle for longer and feed her treats through the muzzle's holes while you do so. Finally, put the muzzle on her and give her the treats through the holes. Start by having her wear it just for a couple of minutes. Gradually work up to an hour over time and space the treats further and further apart as she improves. Use a soft silicone basket muzzle because the silicone will be more comfortable and the basket shape will allow her to open her mouth in it and the holes will let you pass small treats to her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Titan
Pit bull
3 Years
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Titan
Pit bull
3 Years

I have three pit bulls who I love to death. One of them is still young and I am not having any issues with but the other two have recently started getting crazy when they see cats. They have lived with cats their entire lives up until last year when my cat passed away and I moved back home. I’ve never had issues with them up until recently. How can I get them used to cats again and get rid of the cat aggression as I am getting a new cat very soon. Thank you in advance!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kasey, A couple of things might be going on here. The issue might be a lack of socialization around cats while young. If the dogs were around your cat, but never any other cats, then they might not generalize loving your cat to liking all cats. If you have ever met a dog who lives with another dog and gets along well with that dog, but is reactive towards other dogs on walks, then it's the same type of problem. That dog is used to it's own housemate but was never around strange dogs, so dislikes them. Just because your dogs like one cat does not mean that they will like all cats, unless they grew up being exposed to lots of cats. It that case, your dogs need to be around as many cats as possible from a distance. Work with one dog at a time when you are not at your house. Let your dog see the cat from far enough away for him to notice it but still be under your control. As soon as he sees the cat, praise him enthusiastically and offer him several small treats, one at a time. If you are too close to the cat, then he will probably fixate on it and not take the treat though. Practice this with as many cats as you can find. For the sake of training and the cat's safety do this from a distance on leash or in a securely fenced yard though. If you have any friends with outdoor cats in your neighborhood, see if you can get that person to carry the cat past your house to set up extra training times. If the dog reacts poorly to the cat, correct him, but then recognize that the cat is likely too close right now and adjust your distance. A moving cat will be harder than a still one. Any time that your dog sees a cat and looks at you instead of reacting, praise him enthusiastically and reward him heavily, one treat after another. You will likely get brief opportunities to do this. If you wait too long to praise him, then he will probably react still. That look is him asking you what to do, and he needs praise and treats as feedback, to know that he should like the cat. If he won't take the treats no matter how far away the cat is, then become a party yourself whenever he sees a cat. Praise him lavishly, dance, twirl, talk in fun and exciting voices to your dog, get excited. Make yourself as fun and pleasant as you can, so that your dog has a great time. Another thing that could be going on, is that the dogs are being territorial. If the cat reactions are primarily happening by your home and especially if the cats come into your yard or in front of the sidewalk at all, then the dogs are probably reacting because of the location of the cat, or because of location and a lack of socialization. In that case, focus on cat experiences on your own property. Whenever you notice a cat coming onto your property, make the experience as positive as possible for your dog. Show him that you are okay with the cat being there by dancing around, tossing out treats, playing with toys, and praising enthusiastically. Make the cat experience a party and act goofy and fun when you do so, because your dogs will be even more reactive when a cat is on his turf. You are competing for your dogs' attention and need to make yourself a party. The more you do this every time that there is a cat, the more the dogs should start to learn that cats are fun and welcome. Again, if you have a neighbor or friend who can safely bring their cat outside, in front of your home by the sidewalk, then have that person come often so that you can practice with your dogs when you are ready. As they improve, you can work on closer cat interactions too, but always be mindful of a cat's safety in case your dog gets to excited, territorial, or predatory. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Diesle
Pit bull
2 Years
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Diesle
Pit bull
2 Years

We adopted Diesle 4 weeks ago from the local shelter. We have another dog and a 14 year old declawed cat. We have been successful in getting Diesel to walk past the cat and not pay attention to him when we are around. The problem is if Diesel finds the cat in another room he starts barking at him. Oscar is smart enough to stay under something and not run. We step between them and lead Diesel to another room. My fear is if Oscar runs will Diesel attack him? When he plays with stuffed toys he shakes them violently. What do we do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Judyanne, I suggest getting Diesle used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle and having him wear it during the day while you work on cat desensitizing. At night keep the animals confined separately. Done right, a muzzle is not a punishment. Most dogs will get used to wearing one just as they get used to head halters and body harnesses. Use Diesle's food and feed him one piece at a time every time that he sniffs the muzzle. When he gets comfortable with that, then give him a piece every time that you touch the muzzle to his face. When he will tolerate that, then hold the muzzle against his face for a second while you feed him a treat through the muzzle's hole. As he gets more and more comfortable with the muzzle, hold it against him for longer while you feed him treats through the holes. When he will keep his face in the muzzle for a minute while you feed him treats, then buckle it and feed him treats through it, then take it off again. As he improves, gradually keep the muzzle on for longer and longer and space the treat rewards further and further apart, until he is comfortable wearing the muzzle without treats. At that point, you can simply have him wear the muzzle during the day around the cat. Practice this as often as you can. You can feed him his entire food for the day, measured out daily and then rationed out as treats, for this. Continue to teach him to leave the cats alone while he is wearing the muzzle. Stepping between him and the cat and walking toward him until he leaves the area is a good thing to do. Also, practice a "Leave it" command with him often. Start with treats, and work up to harder and harder items, like plates of food and food being dropped. Be quick and step on the leave it item or block him from getting the food any time that he breaks the leave it command while practicing this. When he obeys, then reward him with a different source of food, but never the food you told him to leave alone. You don't ever want him to expect to get the thing that he is supposed to be leaving alone, because that things that he is supposed to be leaving will be the cat later. Follow the "Leave It" method from the article that I have linked below for instructions on how to teach the "Leave It" command. When he can leave the items that the article mentions alone, then find the things that you know he likes best and practice around those things also, like plates of food. Here is the article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, teach him a "Place" command and reward him for staying there while the cat moves around. Reward him whenever he is calm around the cat, and ignoring the cat. Be sure to give him plenty of food and treat stuffed chew toys and regular toys to play with also. Finally, if you are not seeing progress, then hire a local professional trainer who has experience dealing with your issue and comes well recommended, and will come to your home, to help you in person. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lue
Wire Hair Labrador Mix
1 Year
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Lue
Wire Hair Labrador Mix
1 Year

We have had my dog Lue for a while and she keeps killing our kittens, so we have to keep her on a chain all day. My dad told me that he wants to get rid of her because of what she is doing.So my options are 1) give her up to a shelter 2)keep her chained up all the time or 3)train her not to kill and maul our cats. Any advice?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shaye, Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining. He has a Youtube channel. He works with dogs that chase and sometimes will kill livestock. To stop the killing you would need to pursue training like that, creating a strong avoidance of all cats. Whether this is doable will depend on your level of dedication, willingness to learn, and how large the space he is in is. If he is in tight quarters with the cats, like in a house, then the temptation will likely be too great, and he will either resort to killing them or will be in a constant state of stress trying to avoid them. If the cats are outside and he has plenty of room to go somewhere that they are not located to avoid them, then the training is feasible. Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY If you end up needing to give him up, then look online for a rescue in your area. Many rescues will foster dogs in volunteers' homes, and if you email them you can surrender the dog to them. They will ensure that he finds a great home through carefully interviewing potential adopters and advertising him online and at adoption events. This is a much better option than a shelter drop off. If you do end up taking him to a shelter, instead of a rescue that fosters, then look for a humane society rather than a kill-shelter. Humane societies do not put dogs to sleep. If the cat killing is his only big issue, then he could be re-homed with someone who has him as an indoor dog and simply does not have cats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Casper
Labrador Husky
1 Year
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Casper
Labrador Husky
1 Year

All my dogs are fine with the cats, playful, not bothered at all with the cats. But when we are not home, they always kill one of my cats and I do not know why or which dog it is as the remaining cats play with all of them and the dogs are not bothered at all. How do I stop them from killing more cats?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Francois, The dogs need to be kept away from the cats while you are not at home. NO EXCEPTION. If both the cats and dogs are in a small area together, unsupervised, the only way to stop the killing is to separate them. If the animals are in a large enough area that the dog can completely leave the area so that the cat is no longer in sign, you can teach a strong avoidance of the cats, but this only works in large areas like on land, not in a home. You can also teach dogs to leave cats alone while you are there in enforce the training, but when you are not at home monitoring the situation, you cannot depend on that training to prevent the kills, especially since the dogs appear to be fine while you are home. I highly suggest keeping the animals completely separate when you are away. You can get all of the dogs used to wearing basket muzzles, set up a camera, and spy on the animals together, to find out which dog is attacking the cats. I don't encourage doing this though because it will take a lot of monitoring to find out and it does not keep the cats completely safe. It still allows the dogs to trample the cats potentially. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Buster
hound mix
One Year
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Buster
hound mix
One Year

Hello. We got Buster a week ago from the shelter. He is a hound mix. It sounds like he has spent his whole life so far in various shelters. He is great, very relaxed, walks great on a leash. The only problem is he seems to want to eat our cats. We have a 3 year old cat and a 3 month old kitten. We have kept Buster on a leash in the house and have tried working on giving him treats when he sees the cats and does not try to chase them or lunge or bark. He does ok as long as they don't move suddenly. It is usually the kitten running that will cause Buster to try to chase the cats.
Like I said, Buster walks great on a leash, but will still take chase after squirrels when out for a walk. When he is focused on the squirrels or the cats it is very difficult to redirect him and break his focus.
I know that it is early, we have only been working with him for a week. He just turned 1 year old. I recently read that Hounds should never live with cats (after we got him.) The shelter thought he would be good with cats based on his otherwise mellow demeanor.
I just want to know if it will be possible to train this dog so that we are not constantly on guard or if Buster will never e able to get over his prey instinct. Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kim, Honestly, it might be helpful for you to hire a professional trainer who has experience with prey drive and this particular issue, to come to your home and evaluate his response toward the cats. If he is curious and simply wants to chase or play with the cat, then there is a very good chance you can train him to eventually relax around the cats. If he has a strong prey drive toward the cats, and a chase would end in a kill, then you can manage his behavior but you will never be able to completely remove the prey drive and the desire to kill the cats. You would end up having to very carefully supervise and confine the animals separately at all times long-term. That can be done in extreme situations but it takes a lot of work. Just because he is a hound that does not mean that he necessarily wants to kill the cats. I have known a couple of Hounds who were fine with cats. Many breeds of dogs have prey drives, but exposure to cats as a puppy so that they learn to accept them as family and individual temperaments do make a difference. Just like not all herding dogs will have a strong enough herding drive to succeed as a sheep dog, not all hounds have as intense of a prey drive as others do. You could give him a month to warm up to the cats, keeping him on a leash or confined behind a gate or crate safely and continue to work with him, rewarding him for calm behavior and interrupting his fixation, or you could immediately have a trainer that is truly qualified come to your house to assess his response toward the cats and give you an idea of how he might adjust or not. They will not be able to make guarantees, but someone experienced could at least evaluate his level of fixation and drive toward them. If you do end up having to give him up, look into rescues that foster dogs in your city. There are even many rescues for specific breeds. You might try googling his breed, the word rescue, and your city or state. An in-home environment, like a rescue that fosters dogs, would increase his chances of being adopted again, help him adjust to home-life more quickly before his next family, and increase his chances of going to the right family so that he is not returned or given up for unknown behaviors. I have personally adopted dogs from that situation myself and many foster rescues do a great job taking care of the dogs, especially breed specific ones that understand certain needs related to that type of dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cooper
Australian Shepherd
9 Months
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Cooper
Australian Shepherd
9 Months

We recently adopted an Australian shepherd mix from the local animal shelter. We’ve had him for 2 months and he’s about 9 months old now. His last owner gave him up to the shelter after 4 months for unknown reasons. Cooper is friendly with kids, adults, and other dogs. He goes to daycare twice a week where he has the time of his life and has never had any problems. Our biggest concern with cooper is that he is very reactive towards our resident cat who we’ve had for years. She is now terrified of him and we feel terrible. When he sees her, he barks, whines, growls, lunges, and his hair on his neck sticks straight up. Our cat never goes near him anymore, so we’re not sure what would happen if she did. Is it possible to train him to not be aggressive towards her to the point where we feel comfortable leaving the two of them alone together? Help!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sibel, Whether you can train him depends on why he is acting aggressive. If his aggression is a strong predatory instinct, then you can only manage his behavior and keep him and the cat separate. If his aggression is due to fear or a lack of socialization, then you might be able to desensitize him to the cat and change his emotions toward her. The aggression could be due to several reasons and an in person evaluation of his response toward the cat, his body language, and how he initially responds to training would be needed to tell. I suggest looking for a trainer who has specifically dealt with aggression and cats before. I suggest having that trainer at least evaluate him to see if they think his response is predatory or rooted in something else. Predatory instinct is the most common reason for dogs and cats not getting along, but it is definitely not the only reason. The hair raised on his back and growling do indicate aggressive intent and not just excitement like some dogs who want to chase. If he tends to freeze and very intently stare at the cat or try to stalk it slowly, those are predatory behaviors. The lunging and growling could be any type of aggression. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Duke
American Staffordshire Terrier
2 Years
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Duke
American Staffordshire Terrier
2 Years

My dog is deaf and I got him about 3 weeks ago from the humane society. I have also a cat that I have had around dogs but not a big dog. I have not introduced the cat and dog formally because I’m afraid of his reaction. I have the cat locked away in another room but it’s not fair to her (cat) to be kept locked up. He (dog) has sniffed at her under the door but anytime I’m holding her and bring her out his reaction is never a pleasant one. He hasn’t had a chance to chase or bite her but he doesnt wag his tail or take his eyes off her when she is visible. And when out for walks he chases other small animals. I have thought about muzzling him while introducing them but with him being deaf it’s a challenge. I’m not sure if keeping him would be best or try working with him and see how it goes. Really don’t want to send him back to the society. He is neutered. Plz help me with some ideas.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jennifer, One of the easiest things could be having a trainer who is experienced evaluating dogs around other animals, and prey drive, watch his reaction. If he truly is prey driven toward her, that will be very difficult to manage, and there isn't usually a permanent fix to that - simply long-term management. If he is simply not socialized with cats and unsure about her so rough toward her, with work that can often be addressed. Dogs that are playful and just over excited are the easiest dogs to work with around new cats. Some of the desensitization exercises you would use around dogs with issues with other dogs due to fear or a lack of socialization would also work with a dog that simply dislikes a cat due to lack of socialization, but doesn't have a prey drive-with the intent to hunt the cat. A muzzle is a good tool in this situation, but you would still need a leash and other forms of management at this stage because he could still trample her and severely injure her if he attacked, even with a muzzle. Despite him being deaf you can still get him used to a muzzle. Use a soft silicone basket muzzle so that he can open his mouth while wearing it to receive treats through the muzzle. Put the muzzle on the floor and scatter treats around it. Do this until he is comfortable with it. Next, hold it up and whenever he touches it, give him a treat. I suggest using his entire meal kibble, measured out into a bag or treat pouch and feed him meals this way at least once a day. When he is used to touching the muzzle, then hold the treat inside the muzzle through the hole so that he has to poke his nose into the muzzle a bit to get it. Repeat this until he is comfortable, then gradually work up to holding the treat further down the muzzle and for longer, until he will stick his own face into the muzzle all the way and keep it there to receive more treats for holding it there. Once he can hold his face in the muzzle for at least seven seconds and seems completely relaxed around it, buckle it, give a treat, and unbuckle it. Work up to him wearing it for longer over time and spacing treat rewards further and further apart. Expect this to take a couple of weeks though. Go at whatever pace he needs to stay comfortable with the process and be relaxed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Kade
German Shepherd
Four Years
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Kade
German Shepherd
Four Years

Hello, I have a GSD, as well as two cats (one senior and one kitten). My dog was not aggressive towards my senior cat at all, he would completely ignore her. However, when I got my kitten he became highly aggressive towards her, he has lunged at her and attempted to attack her many times now. He even stalks the gate keeping him from getting upstairs (where the cats stay). I'm incredibly concerned for the safety of my cats, but I would like to avoid having to give up my dog (I've never had to give up an animal before and I'm afraid he would do horrible in another home given his history, anxiety, and attachment to our house). However, I'm concerned because his aggressive behavior came out of nowhere (he is otherwise fine with small animals). I'm planning to hire a professional trainer. Will it be possible for him to learn how to co-exist with my cats? The switch to him becoming aggressive towards them was very much out of left field, and I'm unsure what triggered it other than getting the kitten.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elizabeth, Without being there in person to evaluate the type of aggression and his responses to training, I cannot say. I feel confident that the new kitten had everything to do with the sudden aggression. Take dogs for example. Many people have dogs that live with another dog for several years and get along fine. When they take their dog to public places, their dog is extremely reactive toward other dogs. The dog was not properly socialized with other dogs. If you had only ever known one person, you would not know how to be social around other people sufficiently. You would probably be afraid, uncertain, or aggressive if you felt threatened and overwhelmed. Because the kitten is much smaller, he may also view it as a different creature than your other cat. If the issue is simply someone new being on his territory, then a good trainer can likely help you with that problem if you are committed to the training. If the issue is a lack of socialization, then with proper, careful training he may also come to accept the kitten with time - that does not mean it is not dangerous now though, so manage their interactions very carefully. If he is prey driven toward the cat and is intent on killing her that is more severe and sometimes cannot be fixes, only managed to keep the animals apart or and teach him a high level of obedience - which only helps when you are in the room and paying full attention, so can be hard for long-term. If you do decide to re-home him, I suggest contacting a rescue that fosters dogs and carefully evaluates potential families and tells people about his pros and cons so that they can find a good match and him not be returned, opposed to just dropping him off somewhere like a kill-shelter. Someone without cats may not mind his cat-issues. There is a good chance that the issue is specific to the new kitten though, so re-homing the new kitten would probably be much easier if it came down to that. You could always have a friend keep the kitten temporarily and see if things went back to normal without the kitten present. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Murphy
Shepsky
3 Months
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Murphy
Shepsky
3 Months

I got Murphy at 8 weeks and he was doing really well at obeying commands and interacting with my cats (4year old and an 8month month old) I went out of town for a week and left him with my good friend. I get back home today and he won’t listen and is attacking my cats to the point where they growl in his presence, how do I fix?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lance, I suggest a little boot camp for Murphy. For around two weeks (exact time length depending on how he responds to the training) attach him to yourself with a six or eight foot leash whenever you are home so that he has to follow and pay attention to you. Crate him when you are away. Keep his meal kibble in your pocket in a baggie while you do this. Reward calmness and focus on you around the cats, especially when they run. Reward him when he automatically lays down when you stand or sit down for a while. Generally look for opportunities to very calmly reward him for calm behaviors, good listening, focus on you, being tolerant of the cats, and paying attention to where you are going. Teach him the "Leave It" command and use that command to help him with the cats. He is young so be patient with him and calm, but work on giving him more structure right now by having him tethered to you with the leash and having him work for his food. If you work during the day, do this with his evening meal and give him his breakfast the same way that you already are. When he is attached to you and tries to go after the cat, calmly but firmly tell him "Leave It" and if he continues to try to go after them tell him "Ah Ah" and give a quick tug and release on his leash to get his focus back on you. When he does something right around the cat, like not chasing it when it passes by, obeying your leave it command or staying in the down position calmly when the cat walks past, calmly praise him and place a treat between his front paws as a reward. When you praise him keep your tone soft and calm or the praise can make him even more excited. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Leave It" method for instructions on teaching the "Leave It" command. The article mentions using the command for puppies mouthing people but the steps are very similar for teaching it around the cats and their movement also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Fiona
Mastiff
10 Months
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Fiona
Mastiff
10 Months

I have had Fiona for around 7 months. She is a doll but very energetic and stubborn. she just killed my sisters cat and we are very torn on what to do. they have had a couple run ins before but Fiona was always just curious. we never thought she would end up killing the cat. animal control stepped in and Fiona is in quarantine for 10 days. my family is trying to decide what to do because my poor sister was very traumatized by what happened(she was the only one there to defend her cat so she got scratched up) i might have to give fiona up for my sisters sake. i know it is just instinct and things like this happen but how can i prevent her from attacking? and my poor sister is now scared of her. i know fiona is a good dog. how can i rebuild that trust with my sister if i were to keep her? this is probably a silly question but how can i know she isnt dangerous? she killed that cat pretty violently and shook the cat to death. how much is just instinct and how much is her being "dangerous" or "violent"

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Makayla, Prey drive and aggression towards people are two separate things. A dog can have both at the same time, but having aggression towards small animals due to prey drive does not directly relate to whether the dog will be aggressive toward people. The most concerning thing related to people is simply her lack of responsiveness to commands when your sister tried to stop her. She was not attacking your sister it sounds like (I do not know details though) but she also did not listen to her commands to stop. That is more of a management issue. It sounds like if you keep her you need to build a high level of obedience in the presence of heavy distractions (like other animals) to potentially help your sister feel safer again, so that if she ever went after another animals when your sister was around your sister could call her off more likely. The decision to keep her is an extremely personal one that your family will have to decide together though. If she is very prey driven, which is sounds like she is, you cannot remove prey drive. Prey drive is typically specifically towards smaller animals like cats and rodents in most cases though - it is not normally a threat to people, unless you have a separate additional type of aggression going on as well or the person is in the middle of it accidentally - like with the scratches. When you have a dog with high prey drive, the goal is to manage that drive by training the dog to respond even in the presence of high distractions and that does take time and work because you are essentially needing off-leash level training with at least a couple of commands. You can teach such dogs to avoid certain animals outside with e-collar avoidance training, but those dogs should not live with animals they view as prey, meaning that you could potentially teach her to avoid cats outside but she should not live with another cat probably. There is not enough space inside a home for her to remove herself from the area where the cat is always. Having her evaluated by a trainer might help your sister feel safe if her only concern is about potential people related aggression. If her concern is about her attacking another small animal, that is a real risk right now if the small animal is in your home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Stella
Lab mix
4 Years
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Stella
Lab mix
4 Years

We adopted 4-year-old Stella two weeks ago. She is a very smart, loving dog - but she tries to kill my cats. We've been keeping the cats upstairs, not allowing Stella in the room. The door has been cracked to allow the cats to walk around if they are comfortable (which is rare). Every time Stella sees a cat move she chases them HARD and pins them down. There's lots of barking and snarling. She know some basic commands and is food-driven but nothing distracts her when she does this to the cats. She broke my hand a few days ago when I was trying to get her away from the cats.

Stella also growls at people - strangers or people that live in this house. The hair on her back stands up. It's not playful at all. She's started nipping and chasing some people, too.

Stella is scheduled to start a basic training class next week. Will this help? Are we making the right choice by keeping her?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jessica, I cannot tell you whether you should keep her or not, but I can tell you this is a serious issue. Most concerning is that she snarls at people she knows. Chasing and pinning the cats is very normal for many dogs who did not geow up with them - dangerous for the cats still though, because dogs are naturally predatory towards animals like cats. Obedience is needed and will be a part of treating her aggression but it is definitely not the only thing needed. You need to hire a professional trainer who is experienced with aggression and will spend one on one time with your family and Stella, either at your home or at a training facility part of the time. An obedience class is not set up to address aggression and many obedience class trainer are not experienced with aggression (some certainly are - but many are not). Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He is a trainer who specializes in aggression and is on YouTube. I highly suggest hiring someone to work with you in person, but you can learn more online there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cowboy
Pit bull
6 Years
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Cowboy
Pit bull
6 Years

I recently moved in with my significant other and brought my 3 year old cat with me. My significant other has 1 large 6 year old male pitbull and 1, 4 year old female pocket bully. The male is not fixed and shows some aggressive behavior over the female and other dogs. He is very Territorial over us humans and has a high prey drive. Currently, we built a steel reinforced pool gate seperating the animals into different sections of the house. The cat and I have been here for about a month and things are okay but exhausting. The cat feels safe behind the gate and knows what’s on the other side. Occasionally they are nose to nose through the gate and the cat hisses and whacks his muzzle. This seems to excite to dog. During the day when all the animals are sleepy, there isn’t much activity near the gate. However, I noticed in the evening is when the commotion starts. Cowboy becomes obsessed with the gate and claws and whines all evening long. My question is do you think there is any sort of professional training that can be done? I know they will never be able to live safely together but my
Goal is to have them ignore each other. I try to distract the dog with toys or playing outside but he has a one track mind.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Madelyn, You can teach avoidance using an electric collar. This needs to be done on top of general obedience training also, with the help of a professional trainer who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training (also called stimulation collars). Before starting any such training though I suggest having the dog evaluated for aggression based on your description. Aggression being present will effect how the training should be done and additional safety measures that should be taken during training. Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining on YouTube, and his livestock chasing videos where he teaches avoidance. https://youtu.be/CpdvFaXnvyg I suggest finding a trainer who could do a safe version of this (after evaluating aggression status), modified to apply to the cat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Jack
Pointer
7 Years
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Jack
Pointer
7 Years

We got Jack 4 years ago as a stray. Over time, he developed very protective tendencies for our other dog and my husband and I. 4 months ago we found a cat in a ditch abandoned and brought it home because it was domesticated/loving all over us, etc. We decided to keep her but we were very worried about Jack because he had shown aggression towards other dogs. We worked and worked with him and we thought everything was good! The cat would rub up against him , no growling on Jack’s part, and then today happened. He attacked her. She was playing and he went after her. He got her in his mouth but my husband broke it up quickly and she got away (we still don’t know how serious it is). What can we do???? We already love her!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello April, I am sorry this happened. What you can do depends largely on why he attacked her. Was she running and the chase triggered the attack? Was he jealous of her or being possessive of you or an object? Was she in his space and that provoked him? Was there seemingly no trigger and it was purely prey drive? (There may have been a not very obvious trigger, like she was near his food bowl or toy if he generally is fine with her). If the issue was related to something like possessiveness, jealousy, or a lack of tolerance of her being in his space, then those issues will need to be address like you would with that type of aggression in general. If the aggression was triggered by motion or prey drive, then unfortunately management may be your only option, since you cannot eliminate prey drive. Management would involve a high level of obedience, teaching an avoidance of the cat, carefully monitoring them, and confining the animals when you cannot monitor. Even with all of these things in place there is still a large risk since, as you saw, fights can happen instantly. I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced with a variety of types of aggression, including those mentioned above, as well as prey drive, to evaluate what may have happened and what type of aggression you are dealing with. Once you know what's going on, then you can pursue the correct type of training for that situation. Until then, I suggest getting him used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle and carefully monitoring the animals together at all times, or keeping them in separate areas of the house. You can introduce a basket muzzle by sprinkling food on top of it at meal times. Once your dog is comfortable touching it, then hold it up and whenever he sniffs it, give him a piece of his meal kibble (measured out into a bag not from his bowl). Once he is comfortable touching it, hold the kibble in the muzzle so that he has to reach inside to eat it. Practice this until he is comfortable reaching inside, and as he improves, gradually hold the kibble further in the muzzle so that he has to reach in further to get it. When he is comfortable having his face in the muzzle, feed him several treats in a row so that he will hold his face in there for longer. When he can hold his face there for 10 seconds calmly, briefly move the buckles together, then give a treat. Next, buckle and unbuckle the muzzle while you feed treats through the muzzle's holes. Increase how long it stays buckled for as he improves and remains calm and happy. Finally, space out your treats and increase how long he wears the muzzle for until he rarely needs a treat and is relaxed about wearing the muzzle. Be sure to use a basket muzzle, or even a soft silicone basket muzzle (to make it comfortable). A basket muzzle will let him open his mouth while wearing it so that you can feed him treats through the holes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Neala
Mixed Breed - Puggle and Catahoula
5 Years
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Neala
Mixed Breed - Puggle and Catahoula
5 Years

Hi there,

I've had Neala for 3.5 years, and over that period of time, she has had almost no exposure to cats. My girlfriend has two cats, and when we visit, Neala cannot contain herself. We have sectioned off the kitchen so that Neala can see the cats but cannot access them, and she whines, barks, and does everything she can to get toward them. If she can't see them, she sits at barrier in front of the kitchen and pants heavily, waiting for the cats to appear. She has no interest in treats, toys, or playing - she just wants to get toward the cats.

Since she continues to lunge at the cats when she sees them (and since one of them recently sprayed her out of fear), we've had to keep them completely separated. We've been doing this for a couple of weeks now with almost no improvement. I'm not sure what to do next.

Thanks,
Michael

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michael, I suggest hiring a trainer who is experienced with remote collar training to help you with leave it, out, and other commands that build impulse control. Once she is calmer through interrupting her fixation using the remote collar and teaching those commands, then she will likely be more open to receiving rewards and you can reward her calm, compliant behavior instead. For the remote collars (e-collars) she needs to build a good foundation of obedience through training, then the remote collar is simply used to snap her out of her fixation so that you have the opportunity to teach her to calm down instead, as well as enforce the commands you give her very consistently. Obviously do not trust her around the cats at this point and even early on in the training when she is doing well. She needs to be completely fine around them long term before she would ever be left unattended with them. The goal with the cats is to make them boring to her. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Millie
German Shorthaired Pointer
2 Years
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Millie
German Shorthaired Pointer
2 Years

My husband and I recently (4 days ago) adopted Millie, a 2 year old German Shorthaired Pointer. We have a cat already (Rocko) and he is 9 years old and means the world to me! When we brought Millie over for a home visit, she growled once but otherwise ignored the cat. But now that we own her, she growls every time Rocko walks by. She never shows her teeth or raises her back just a rumble. This morning she lunged a little bit at the cat and I'm terrified she's going to hurt Rocko. Rocko does not care. At all. He doesn't growl, puff up, hiss. Nothing. He plays in the same room as her and exposes his belly without a care in the world. When Millie rumbles at him he keeps his distance and proceeds with ignoring her. Rocko is cuddly and I hate that he can't be around me while Millie is in the room. We currently keep Millie confined to the living room with a dog gate and keep her kenneled at night in another room so we don't have any disturbances. We tell her no but she's hard to pull away. My husband has grabbed her scruff and pulled her but she is so nose driven and can't break away from staring at the cat. She does not react to toys and doesn't seem to care for treats either. When they do pass each other successfully we give Millie praise. Do I need to give this more time? Or will she be unable to break this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elaine, You would definitely need more time to know for sure, but I would recommend hiring a professional trainer to evaluate Millie's response toward the cat. Ask trainers questions and look for one with experience with aggression and who is familiar with prey drive and body language, so that they can evaluate the situation. If she is simply not used to cats and uncomfortable around her, then there is a decent chance you can work her through that with cautious commitment to training. If she is highly prey driven toward the cat, you cannot change prey drive, you can only manage it to make it safer. A highly prey driven dog and a cat that the dog is prey driven toward is not something I recommend trying to manage in such close quarters for the safety of the cat and stress of the dog. There are many types of aggression though. Many dogs react grumpy toward new dogs and eventually adjust with training. If that is what is going on, you may be able to get past this. If it's prey drive, then I would be very concerned. The staring at the cat without breaking her gaze does concern me. That shows a level of intensity that can be concerning, but without being there in person I cannot really say. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Beadle
American Bully Staffy Bull Terrier
1 Year
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Beadle
American Bully Staffy Bull Terrier
1 Year

Our dog was raised with our two cats with minimal issues. She's very boisterous, which I think upset one of the cats one day and he attacked her. The cat's attack was pretty severe and left her with multiple cuts. Now she goes after the cat when he enters a room. If they're already in the same room, she's pretty fine but seems on edge. I dont think she's going after him in a predatory way; I think she just wants him out of the room. What can I do to fix this? She gets along fine with the other cat with only a few chasing incidents which she gets timeout for, and seems to work. The cat that attacked her is a different story entirely and she chases him barking and growling like he's the vacuum cleaner.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, It does sounds like fear-aggression opposed to prey drive. Honestly this will be hard to address without being able to address the cat's behavior also. If the cat is being pushy and at risk of attacking her again, it will make it hard to build her confidence around him again. I suggest teaching her a behavior she can do when the cat arrives that earns her a lot of rewards. Work on teaching her the Place command or to go to her crate with the door open. Once she understands what Place or Crate means and to go there, reward her with favorite treats and even a food stuffed chew toy when she goes to those places when told. Next, have someone else bring the cat in the room during practice. As soon as the cat enters, have her go to her spot and receive the rewards. (Do this on leash with a slack leash at first in case she decides to go for the cat). Practice this until she starts to associate the cat's arrival with being told to go to those places and earn rewards, and will go there on her own without being told when she sees the cat. This will accomplish a couple of things: 1. It will give her something else to focus on other than the cat. 2. It will keep her away from the cat. 3. It will help her associate the cat with good things again. You also need to advocate for her. When you see the cat taunting her, starting at her, or generally doing anything to antagonize her, make the cat leave the room. If she feels like you are in charge and enforcing house rules for both her and the cat, she is more likely to look to you for help and relax around the cat. Practicing obedience commands to build her respect and trust in you can also generally help her depend on you in situations that make her feel nervous. If you do not see improvement soon or feel like you need help, I suggest finding a great trainer who can do the above training as well as desensitize her to the cat. Look for someone who is experienced with fear, trauma, and aggression. I wouldn't wait too long to get help if you do not see improvement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Piper and Bella
West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
11 Years
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Piper and Bella
West Highland White Terrier (Westie)
11 Years

I would like to adopt a cat. However, my two dogs are naturally aggressive toward cats and small animals. They themselves are small, but have tag teamed a neighborhood cat before. They were much younger then, however they still seem to have an aggression toward cats and small animals even now. They've never killed anything, but they have brought back live animals for us at times. Do you think it's realistic at this point in their lives to add in a cat? And if so, which method would you suggest?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Baylee, Honestly I would not recommend getting a cat right now. It does sound like they probably have a predatory drive towards cats. You cannot change predatory instinct since it is instinct. You can just manage it. You would always have to carefully manage the animals through a high level of obedience for the dogs, confinement of the animals when you are not present, and even then accidents can happen. It would be stressful for all of the animals and probably difficult for you. The methods described are primarily for dogs who have not shown aggression toward a cat before, but simply chase cats due to over-excitement or are young enough to be socialized towards cats still, or for those who already have all of the animals and have no choice but to manage the interactions long term to minimize the already present risks. The methods are not recommended for dogs with a proven predatory drive toward cats in most cases, if you can avoid the risks to begin with. I suggest waiting a few years. When you do get a cat introduce the animals while a future dog is still a puppy, or choose a rescue that was raised with cats and known to be good with them already. A calm cat that is less prone to be reactive and run also makes interactions easier. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lily
French Bulldog
7 Months
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Lily
French Bulldog
7 Months

We got our adorable little girl a week ago. She was spent the first part of her life mainly in a pack of other frenchies and will need all her basic training but in the meantime we have a 2 year old cat who gets along great with our 2 year old Boston Terrier however we introduce them when the dog was a year and cat was 6 weeks. Our precious Lily is very hard to redirect when she sees the cat and immediately chases which causes our cat to run and defend from either the bed or sink. We have also had a time or two where Lily chased our cat up a tree in the front yard. Our cat seems to be trying to hold it's ground but at this point my cat is too scared of the dog to try and approach and the dog is way to focused on find and chase for any positive interactions. While still working on very introductory command training of the puppy is there a way to deter or reduce this prey drive and focus?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bree, I suggest teaching the "Out" command - which means leave the area. Check out the article linked below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also suggest keeping Lily tethered to you with a chew proof leash while you are in the process of training still, and crating her when you have to leave the home. When you are training or playing games she does not have to be on the leash attached to you, but when simply hanging out it will keep her out of mischief, give you opportunities to redirect her focus back to you more easily, and help her bond with you. Check out a leash like VirChewLy that is chew-proof if she tends to chew (most puppies her age chew a lot right now). When you are going to be sitting or standing for awhile, give her a food stuffed chew toy to keep her busy and to help her learn to lay down quietly by your feet and chew her own toys. Check out the article linked below for some tips on tethering and stuff hollow chew toys with food. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Correction. 1 year old cat....

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