How to Train a Husky to Get Along with Cats

Hard
6-12 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Since the early days of cartoons, the dynamic between cats and dogs has always been illustrated as bitter rivals. The dog chases the cat, the cat chases the mouse, and the mouse looks for the cheese. Unfortunately for many pet owners, there is some truth to the fiction. Just like cats are sometimes driven to chase and kill mice, many dogs are also compelled to chase, and sometimes kill, their feline roommates. These are, of course, extreme cases, but preventing your cat from facing unnecessary stress is important. This issue is prominent especially with owners of Huskies, who are well known for having a high prey drive.

A “prey drive” is what compels a Husky to chase small animals in and around the home, which can include birds, mice, insects, squirrels, and even the household cat. This behavior can easily put your cat in danger and should be addressed as soon as it is recognized in any dog, but Huskies especially require plenty of care and training to help catch this behavior early on and prevent an unfortunate incident.

Defining Tasks

There are many ways to help your Husky get along with your cat, but an important thing to remember is that prey drive is instinctual. This drive to chase and sometimes kill can overpower obedience if the training foundation is not strong enough. The importance of keeping an eye on both your Husky and your cat cannot be stressed enough in these cases and your dog’s success will heavily depend on your consistency and ability to maintain any and all training that you put in place for him.

It’s important to not wait until after your dog has already developed a habit of chasing cats to push for this training, as then the instinct may be too ingrained. However, there are still ways to manage both of your pets even if this is the case. Regardless, start training as early as possible when your Husky is still a puppy and be prepared to maintain this training throughout his lifetime.

Getting Started

Before beginning, ensure that your Husky has basic obedience under his belt. Important commands will be ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘leave it’. Any other commands are a plus, but these can come in handy if you find yourself in a situation where you need to maintain control over your dog.

Be prepared with a leash for more control and some treats for positive reinforcement. Set up barriers between your two animals if necessary or use a soft muzzle on your Husky for short periods of time during training to ensure your cat’s safety. Prevention is a large component when it comes to training a predator around potential prey.

The Early Adjustment Method

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Step
1
Start early
This method absolutely requires you to begin adjusting your Husky to cats when he is a puppy. As soon as he is vaccinated, begin your training.
Step
2
Supervise introductions
Always keep an eye on your dog around cats or any other small animals. Never leave two animals unsupervised.
Step
3
Leashed encounters
Begin your Husky’s introductions to cats on leash. The leash should be loose so you don’t encourage tension or stress, but you should still remain in control. Have your puppy interact with both you and the cat in healthy and productive ways.
Step
4
Off-leash encounters
Once your Husky exhibits no problem behavior around cats, you may proceed to off-leash encounters. Be sure that you can easily remove one or both of the animals in case the encounter becomes stressful for either.
Step
5
Watch for aggression
An aggressive dog may begin to use his teeth inappropriately during play. Watch for any excessive mouthing and stop play immediately if he becomes too rough. An anxious or aggressive cat may pin its ears back and wag its tail back and forth to show irritation. It may also arch its back and hiss. Remove both animals if there are any signs of stress.
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The Reinforcement Method

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Step
1
Find a distraction
When in the presence of a cat, provide your Husky with a more interesting toy, treat, or game to promote indifference towards the cat.
Step
2
Reward ignoring
Offer plenty of praise and treats for your Husky’s indifference. Ignoring is better than obsession and she will learn quickly that the cat is not something worth chasing.
Step
3
Supervise all encounters
Keep an eye on both your dog and your cat if they are ever in the same room together. This can help prevent incidents from occurring.
Step
4
Reward positive interaction
If you find it appropriate to allow your dog to interact with your cat, be sure to reward her with lots of affection and positive reinforcement for good behavior. Do not reward hyper-focusing or any instances of your dog following your cat around excessively. This behavior should be interrupted.
Step
5
Separate if necessary
Separate your dog and cat if either exhibit signs of aggression or stress. Place them in separate rooms and only try again once both have settled down.
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The Separation Method

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Step
1
Provide separate living areas
Some Huskies and cats simply cannot co-exist appropriately. Provide separate rooms for your dog and your cat so that they both have their own safe havens if this is the case.
Step
2
Provide escape routes
Cats are much more likely to run and hide if they are stressed. Provide places where they can escape high up and away from your Husky. Be sure that there are no ways for your dog to climb up to get at them.
Step
3
Use barriers
Utilize closed doors or baby gates to keep your Husky from approaching your cat in places it may not want to be approached.
Step
4
Always supervise
As always, keep an eye on your dog and cat if they are ever in the same room together. If you are going to leave the house, place them in separate areas and away from each other.
Step
5
Watch for body language
Be proactive when it comes to interactions between your dog and cat. Aggressive body language should never be ignored and should always be addressed. Do not hesitate to involve a professional behaviorist or trainer to prevent your Husky from harming your cat.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Kody
Husky
13 Months
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Question
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Kody
Husky
13 Months

My dog is being nice but will chase the cat if it runs. The cat is the one that attacks when i introduce them to eachother

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Luke, Work on teaching Kody a "Leave It" command and practice that command around food, favorite items, movement, and distractions. For example, once Kody can leave food dropped on the floor alone, then put him on a long leash and work on "Leave It" by telling him to "Leave It" when you throw food. Do this on a leash so that you can prevent him from getting the food if he disobeys. When he obeys, reward him with a treat from another location. Never give him the food you told him to leave though. To teach "Leave It" follow one of the methods from the article that I have linked below. You will need to initially just teach him what "Leave It" means but your end goal is to practice it with movement involved to develop his self-control. When he can leave the food, then set up scenarios where the cat runs, Kody is on a long leash, and you tell him to leave the cat alone, and reward him when he does.You may need to purchase a remote vibration collar to interrupt him when he starts to chase once he understands what to do and is able to do it but needs the command to be reinforced. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mona
Siberian Husky
1 Year
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Question
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Mona
Siberian Husky
1 Year

We adopted Mona about 3 weeks ago. I have been working with training her. We have mastered sit and stay she will do as long as there aren't any distractions. Our cat has been confined to our bedroom which has Glass doors out to the back yard. So mona has seen the cat through the doors and has had a few short leashed visits with the cat. The problem is when she sees the cat she is completely focused in the cat. I have tried everything to try and change her focus (treats, toys, cheese, even turkey!) and none of it is as good as the cat. How do I get her to focus on me, or something else when the cat is so enthralling to her!? Thank you for your help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lindsay, First of all I would work on getting Mona used to wearing a soft, silicone, basket muzzle in preparation for future up-close introductions. You can do this by giving her lots of treats while you get her used to the muzzle. Give her a treat whenever you show her the muzzle, she sniffs the muzzle, you touch the muzzle to her, and eventually, you put the muzzle on, and then leave the muzzle on. Do this gradually over the next several days or weeks. A basket muzzle will have holes so that you can feed her small treats through while she is wearing it. You can also dip a straw in a bit of peanut butter and poke the straw through the muzzle for her to lick as a reward. If her fixation is really strong, then you need to seek professional help because it might be prey drive. If it is prey drive, then management may be your only option. If the fixation is simply curiosity and playful interest, then spending a lot of time around the cat, with the cat in a safe location, should help the cat to become boring. You probably need to use a form of correction to snap her out of her fixation. A prong collar correction might do the trick, but you want to be careful not to cause a negative association with the cat while doing this. Teach her the "Watch Me" or "Attention" command. When she is fixated on the cat tell her to "Watch Me", if she does not, then give a correction. As soon as her attention is off of the cat and back onto you, then give her another command and heavily reward her to paying attention to you and obeying. You want to correct her for disobedience instead of randomly correcting her in her mind. You also want to reward her for proper behavior at least as much as you correct her. If she does not want the treats that is fine, but continue to praise her and at least offer them. Look into how to properly fit and use a prong collar. A prong collar should be worn high on the neck, without slack in it. The prongs should gently touch the skin all the way around but should not poke into the skin at all unless the dog is being corrected. A correction should not take a lot of force if it is being done correctly. Two fingers on the leash should provide enough force for a good correction in most cases. I would also suggest hiring a trainer for this part too since it can be delicate. The trainer can assess her prey drive also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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