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

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

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

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 and Success Stories

Question
Rocco
Husky
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocco
Husky
5 Years

We just recently adopted Rocco from the pound and are trying to introduce him to our cat. Rocco is very sweet and calm, and doesn't seem to care too much about the cat until she is on the ground, then he gets very excited. Since he is new, he doesn't listen to commands very well and he gets very excited on the leash so it is hard to tell if the cat is getting him worked up or not. Our cat is very upset she is confined to one room right now so we really want to try to introduce them more. We also have a crate and are working on crate training him, should we use that to bring the cat around him?

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

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cat. Rocco 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 cat while on leash. Any time he even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks her attention away from the cat, 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 cat until he is no longer interested in the cat. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cat 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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Question
Odin
Siberian Husky
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Odin
Siberian Husky
1 Year

He nips at the new kitten

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

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cat. Odin 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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Question
Ayla
Husky
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ayla
Husky
2 Years

I just got a new seven week old kitten, my husky is obsessed with cats and anxious. The kitty is pretty explorative and fearless in some sense. Ayla, my dog, seems to love cats but cats do not love her probably because of her high energy and interest in them. Ayla has had one cat friend who didn’t mind her so much but that was only for a short weekend and ayla was everywhere where the cat was (again pretty obsessed with the cat). I’m hoping if I start them young and the more familiar ayla gets the less novel a cat will be and hopefully she will be less obsessed s I’ve never seen ayla hurt a cat or anything really. Oh course I will not leave them alone. But any more suggestions? Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, I would work on teaching pup a Place and Heel command and practicing those commands around the kitten to teach self-control and boundaries. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel I would also teach pup some spatial commands like leave it and Out to help pup give the kitten space when needed. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Reward pup for being calm and ignoring the cat when in the same room by calmly placing a treat between pup's paws (to encourage lying down). Keep praise soft in this situation so that you don't make pup more excited. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Max
Siberian Husky
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Max
Siberian Husky
5 Years

I am attempting to acclimate my husky and my friends cat so that we can have them around each other while hanging out. My husky seems to have a high prey drive but will shy away from aggressive cats and ignore cats who are confident around dogs. My friends cat is confident and curious about him but when she tries to be playful he attempts to grab her with with his mouth. I corrected this behavior but am scared that he will hurt her as she is a very sweet animal and does not know to fear dogs. What can we do in this situation? Thank you.

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

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cat. Max needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the environment. 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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Question
Storm
Siberian Husky
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Storm
Siberian Husky
1 Year

Introducing her to the kitten

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
708 Dog owners recommended

Hello Camera, Check out the video linked below. Until you know how reliable pup is, I would also tether pup to something secure with a long enough leash that they won't feel the tension of the leash unless they try to get off the place bed - but as an added safety in case they lunged for the cat while practicing the training. Start by teaching pup Place without the cat around first though. 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 Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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