How to Train a Husky to Get Along with Cats

How to Train a Husky to Get Along with Cats
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon6-12 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Early Adjustment Method

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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.

2

Supervise introductions

Always keep an eye on your dog around cats or any other small animals. Never leave two animals unsupervised.

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.

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.

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.

The Separation Method

Effective

2 Votes

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Effective

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Reinforcement Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By TJ Trevino

Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Glacier

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Siberian Husky

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10 Months

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Question

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She's new to me and she loves me already and is very playful but I have 2 issues, 1 being she bites not aggressively but playfully but hard and doesn't stop when u tell her no she actually gets more roudy 2 being I have a 2yrold cat she keeps chasing when I'm asleep and someone just told me she will eat my cat and that would devistate me beyond belief so how do I get her to stop hunting my cat and get along with her?

June 22, 2022

Glacier's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Khaidyn, For the biting I would teach Out and Leave It. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I would crate pup at night right now, until things are safe with the cat and pup is trained. Crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate 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 himself. 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 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 22, 2022

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Beau

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Husky

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4 Years

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Question

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So we did what I can only call a shotgun decision and adopted an adult huskie, wed already owned a cat and hadnt done much research. Were just now finding out about prey drive and while the huskie and cat have not met im concerned that his age may make him untrainable. Could we ask you to provide some insight into how we can best assure that the huskie wont attack the cat, if thats possible even. Thank you have a great day!

May 6, 2022

Beau's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, A lot of this depends on the specific dog and if they were at any point raised with a cat - which is often unknown in a shelter rescue situation. Huskies are certainly not known for being great with cats, but there are still exceptions. As far as the cats, check out the videos I have linked below. How you train this will depend a lot on pup's level of aggression or curiosity toward the cats. If pup is just curious and overly playful, the mild cat issue video instructions might be all you need to set some boundaries between the animals and establish expectations. I would also crate or confine pup in a room away from the cats when you are away, at least for the first few months until you are confident how they are together at all times. If pup's interest is more intense or there is prey drive, there are additional resources I have linked below for training video examples as well. I would consider hiring a trainer experienced in this area to help you train for anything severe 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 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 cat in the same room. I would also recommend back tying 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. 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 better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. 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/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 6, 2022


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