Ever heard the expression “fight like cats and dogs”? Does it have to be true?
No, it doesn't. In fact, many households count both cats and dogs as family members that get along famously, play, cuddle, eat, and sleep together. But the cliche that dogs hate cats and love to chase them is fueled by the fact that dogs who have not been socialized or trained not to chase cats, do have a natural tendency to run after cats, especially if the cat will run away. Dogs are predators that are naturally inclined to run after anything smaller than them that runs away. After all, it might be good to eat. However, this can make you and your dog very unpopular with your neighbor and her cat!
Training your dog not to chase cats is important if you are introducing a cat into your home, to maintain good relations with your cat-owning neighbors, and to protect your dog from running into hazards while chasing a cat--hazards which include traffic or a cat that chooses to defend itself from unwanted attention. It is also important to protect the cat, who is doubtless someone else's beloved pet.
The best way to prevent your dog from chasing cats is to socialize your dog with cats at a young age, so he learns that cats are companions, not prey. If a more mature dog develops the habit of chasing cats, the habit can be harder to break, as it is a behavior that is fueled by natural instinct, and it can be difficult to control the opportunities your dog has to chase cats. You may need to enlist the support of your cat-owning friends to teach your dog that cats are friends, not chase objects. Your goal will be to have your dog either ignore cats, or approach them in a friendly manner, and not to run after a cat even if it flees the scene!
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 exercise. A restricted area that your dog can not run from, for example into traffic, is recommended. Also, if your dog has shown aggression to cats while running after them, you should consider making sure the dog can not hurt your feline helper by putting a basket muzzle on your dog for the training session. You can also use a crate to keep your feline assistant safe and give the cat a feeling of protection during training. A long leash to maintain control and treats will be required for some exercises.
We have a 15.5 year old cat. The dog chases the cat if we let her. The cat doesn't fight only hisses and runs. We have a baby gate up and sometimes they will get within 3-4 feet of each other calmly through the gate. Through the gate the dog will either ignore the cat or just lay down and stare at him. Although when we say "leave it" she usually turns away. Any time the cat is at a higher level (in our arms off the floor) the doog gets excited and may lunge. Not aggressively though. May or may not bark. Will they ever get along?? Is there hope?
Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Nika needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less reactive by the cat. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking him around the cats while on leash. Any time he even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cats, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cat, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until he is no longer interested in the cats. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.
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