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 that your Husky cannot resist for positive reinforcement. Invest in a couple of interactive toys to occupy your Husky's attention. Set up barriers between your two animals 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

ribbon-method-3
Most Recommended
4 Votes
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 their ears back and wag their tail back and forth to show irritation. They may also arch the back and hiss. Remove both animals if there are any signs of stress.
Recommend training method?

The Separation Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
2 Votes
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 he 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.
Recommend training method?

The Reinforcement Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
2 Votes
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. Busy his mind with an interactive toy full of yummy treats. This should keep him busy, and take the importance off the cat.
Step
2
Reward ignoring
Offer plenty of praise and treats for your Husky’s indifference. Ignoring is better than obsession and he 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 him 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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Mochi
Siberian Husky
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mochi
Siberian Husky
11 Months

She’s good with cats in the sense that there is no aggression. She’s just gets very excited and kind overbearing and we’re trying to introduce her to our new kitten but she’s too excited. How could we get her to calm down around the kitten. She thinks it wants to play and barks but he’s too small

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Eren, Check out the videos linked below for teaching calmness around cats. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitten in the same room. I recommend also back tying pup while they are on place - safely connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. Make sure what the leash is secured to, the leash itself, and pup's collar or harness are secure and not likely to break or slip off. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. You want pup to learn to stay due to obedience and self-control, and the leash just be back up for safety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zircon
Siberian Husky
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Zircon
Siberian Husky
12 Weeks

I’m receiving a new puppy who has been socialized with other animals and children, but I want to ensure that he won’t try to eat my house cat.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Secret, Check out the videos linked below for teaching calmness around cats. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitty in the same room. I recommend also back tying pup while they are on place - safely connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. Make sure what the leash is secured to, the leash itself, and pup's collar or harness are secure and not likely to break or slip off. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. You want pup to learn to stay due to obedience and self-control, and the leash just be back up for safety. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Loki
Husky
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Loki
Husky
2 Years

I adopted a new kitty and he has killed rabbits outside before, I’m scared he is going to hurt my cat, what should I do

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, How pup is around the cats will largely determine what of the below you will do. If you find pup is wanting to kill or seriously harm the cat, I would hire a professional trainer to help with the type of training found in the severe cat issues videos, rather than doing it on your own. You may find pup just wants to play too roughly and teaching rules and self-control is sufficient. It depends a lot on the specific dog. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitty in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. I would use a harness on pup or be really sure pup couldn't slip out of a collar during a sudden chase also. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop more impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control himself. I don't know what level of obedience pup has, but if it's not a lot, I would start by teaching things like Leave It, Out, Place, Heel, Come, and Stay. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Logan
Siberian Husky
10 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Logan
Siberian Husky
10 Years

Logan has never lived with cats. We inherited him and we have two small cats. Logan has always been a rough player with his Pomeranian sister up until she past. I need him to not want to chase nor eat the cats

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, How pup is around the cats will largely determine what of the below you will do. If you find pup is wanting to kill or seriously harm the cats, I would hire a professional trainer to help with the type of training found in the severe cat issues videos, rather than doing it on your own. You may find pup just wants to play too roughly and teaching rules and self-control is sufficient. It depends a lot on the specific dog. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitties in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. I would use a harness on pup or be really sure pup couldn't slip out of a collar during a sudden chase also. This keeps kitties safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop more impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control himself. I don't know what level of obedience pup has, but if it's not a lot, I would start by teaching things like Leave It, Out, Place, Heel, Come, and Stay. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Gracie
Siberian Husky
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Gracie
Siberian Husky
3 Months

Jumping on you, pulling on shoelaces, constantly nipping at your feet, hands etc. Pulling at your pant legs or sleeves resulting in holes.
We have 3 cats - which they go nose to nose with her with a gate between BUT now she has started growling at them. We also have a 10 year old Guide Dog golden retriever who is scared of her and runs away

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jean, First, check out the articles I have linked below. Jumping - I would try the step toward method first, since it sounds like pup is biting you specifically when off the leash inside. The Leash method is good for guests instead. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - how to teach a dog Out and how to use Out to deal with pushy behavior sections, especially. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Quiet: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Chewing: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Crate Training - Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate I would start by adding more structure. I would work on the above commands, working up to crate training and a long Place command around the cats. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E I would enforce Out and Leave It on behalf of your older dog, and when you can't supervise pup around the other animals, I would crate pup or put them in an exercise pen with a dog food stuffed chew toy, or tether pup to yourself with a hands free leash. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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