How to Train a Greyhound to Like Cats

Hard
1-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

It is the nature of pet lovers to embrace all animals, not necessarily just dogs or just cats. When the love of four-leggers extends across two different species, such as cats and dogs, then there's potential for fur to fly. Sometimes things work out smoothly but other times, the breed of the dog can work against you. 

This is certainly true of the Greyhound, with his roots as a dog trained to hunt by sight. A fast-moving cat streaking across the living room is the feline equivalent of a red rag to a bull. To create harmony in the household, it's vital that the Greyhound learns to inhibit his natural instinct to chase, because only then can peace break out and dog get along with cat. 

Defining Tasks

Greyhounds hunt by sight and there's nothing quite so exciting as a fast-moving cat. The Greyhound's deep-rooted natural instinct is to give chase, which results in the fur-flying... literally. Teaching a Greyhound to look on a cat as a family member, and not prey to chase, is a difficult task and depends on introducing the two animals gradually and by training the dog to obey (and not chase) without a second thought. 

In the meantime, be prepared to keep the two species separate and take steps to prevent the dog giving chase. This may take considerable time so be prepared to be patient, and make sure the cat's needs for safety and security are met in the meantime. 

Getting Started

Training a Greyhound to be friends with a cat hinges on changing his behavior away from the natural instinct to give chase. This will take considerable time and patience, so be prepared for the long haul. In addition, you'll need: 

  • Separate rooms in order to keep the dog and cat apart
  • A collar and leash to restrain the dog
  • Blankets that you can swap between the cat and dog
  • Treats
  • A treat pouch or bag to keep those rewards handy
  • A friend to help with training. 

The Obedience Training Method

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Step
1
Understand the aim
It's essential the dog doesn't chase the cat, which requires a high degree of obedience from the dog. Regularly training, especially with commands such as 'look', 'come', and 'leave it', will help put you in control and interrupt the dog's thoughts of chasing his fur-sister.
Step
2
Teach a strong recall
Recall enables you to have the dog move toward you rather than chase the cat. Start out by calling the dog to you when he happens to move in your direction, praise and reward him. Then run away from the dog while calling him in an excited manner. Reward him when he comes to you. If necessary, keep the dog on a leash so that you can remain in control while he learns a strong recall.
Step
3
Teach the dog to stay
Teach the dog to stay in one spot and you can prevent him from giving chase. To do this, start by standing beside the dog and have him stay in one spot for several seconds, then reward him. Then increase the time he's expected to stay still. Once he can stay for one minute, take a step away, have him stay, and then return to his side to reward him. Slowly increase the distance between you.
Step
4
Teach 'look'
This is a great command for distracting the dog from a cat that's strolling across the room. Start by holding a treat by the dog's nose and then travel the treat up to the bridge of your nose. With the dog's focus on the treat, say "Look". Make him wait a few seconds before rewarding him with the treat. Gradually increase the length of time he's expected to look, before getting the reward.
Step
5
Practice makes perfect
Train several times a day for short periods. Start out in a distraction-free environment to get things going. Once the dog has grasped the basic principle, then you can train in places with mild distractions. Ultimately the aim is to have the dog obey, even in the face of super-distracting things like a cat!
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The Dos and Don'ts Method

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Step
1
Don't: Leave the dog and cat unsupervised
It's going to take a long, long time (if ever) before the Greyhound is reliable enough to be left unattended with the cat. Don't take that risk unless you are absolutely certain of a rock-solid relationship between them.
Step
2
Don't: Forget the cat
There are two partners in this relationship. Don't forget to reward and fuss the cat for being bold and not turning tail when she sees the dog. You'll need to have a friend or family member help you with this; one person working with the dog and the other the cat.
Step
3
Do: Manage the cat's stress
Be mindful of the cat's needs for safety and security. Provide a high perch for the cat that is out of reach of the dog, and plenty of hiding places so that she can go to high ground if she feels threatened.
Step
4
Do: Be aware some Greyhounds are intractable cat chasers
Of all dog breeds, perhaps with the exception of some terriers, Greyhounds have a bad track record for getting along with cats. Although you are likely to succeed with patience and dedication, this is not guaranteed. If you don't feel confident about sparing the time needed, then a mixed species household is not for you.
Step
5
Don't: Punish the dog
Don't physically punish the greyhound for chasing. Even if the dog becomes inhibited about chasing the cat when you are present, he will still chase when you aren't there. In addition, it will make him fearful of you and harm your relationship. Instead, give a brief verbal rebuke such as "No", and distract him.
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The Polite Introductions Method

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Step
1
Divide and conquer
Keep the Greyhound and the cat separate, until you are certain of good behavior from the dog. This avoids chasing antics, which are hugely self-rewarding for the Greyhound and will quickly become his default behavior. Preventing this will make training easier in the long run and reduce stress on the cat.
Step
2
Scent handshakes
Ultimately, the cat and dog will meet. To help smooth the path, introduce them remotely using scent handshakes. This involves mingling their scents back and forth so that they become familiar with each other's smell, which in turns helps them get used to one another. Ideas include swapping their bedding, stroking one and then the other, and giving them both a piece of your clothing (so your smell acts as an intermediary) and then swapping the items over.
Step
3
First sight at a distance
When the dog first has sight of the cat, do so in a controlled manner. Have the dog on a collar and leash, and have the cat at the opposite side of the room. Continually interact with the dog, (now is the perfect time to obedience train) with an emphasis on praising and rewarding the dog for ignoring the cat. Remember, the 'look' command can distract the dog if he looks too interested in the cat.
Step
4
Short but sweet encounters
Repeat these encounters regularly so that the dog gets into the habit of listening to you and ignoring the cat. Be liberal with praise and treats when the dog ignores the cat. This helps him realize there's more to be gained from ignoring the feline than from chasing her.
Step
5
Zero tolerance of chasing
Once the dog shows little interest in the cat you can move gradually closer. Any interest in chasing should be met with a firm "No" and distract the dog with training.
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Written by Pippa Elliott

Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Harley
Galgo Espanol
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Harley
Galgo Espanol
2 Years

Hi, I will be adopting a rescue galgo and would like some advice on introducing him to the cat. He is cat workable. The cat won’t be living with me, but he lives with my mum who I stay with 3 days a week. Harley will be the only dog with me the rest of the time. Many thanks, katy

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

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Harley 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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