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.
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.
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.
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
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
Hello Kodey’s, we recently adopted a 3 years old female husky that the previous owner, which we know, says had two cats and that the husky (Fidji) had no problems with. It’s only been 11 days since we have her but yet she doesn’t seems to be able to get over her hyper excitment over my cats and continuously wants to interact with them. It comes sometimes that she’s able to get close enough to smell them and in that she’s very calm, but if they try to jump or run away she becomes excited and tries to peruse them for a step or two, never more and she’s not trying to bite them either. At night all is well as she sleeps with us on our bed. Any idea of how to just calm her down when she sees them moving?
Was this experience helpful?
We recently got a 7 week kitten and our dog max just stares at him through the door he would just be really focused on him, today he barked. Max tends to be really territorial and takes times being friendly with other dogs. How do I get him to be less aggressive towards the kitten and be able to be relaxed
Hello Darlene, First, check out the videos linked below on correcting the fixating on the kitten. Jeff Gellman cat aggressive dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Reward Max for ignoring the cat, being tolerant, calm, and friendly in a calm way. I highly suggest using a basket muzzle, back tie leash, regular leash, crate, gate, or some other form of barrier or safety device for a while after both are doing well to minimize the ongoing risk during the transition period. When you are not home, crate Max in a separate room from cat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
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!
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
Was this experience helpful?
Hi. I have one dog who is one and a half and he is part Rat Terrier and part Red Heeler. I also have two older male cats. I’m getting a male husky puppy in about 6 weeks (he’s still with his mother because he’s only 1 week now). I want to make sure the introduction process will go smoothly. Any advice? My other pup does GREAT with other dogs, but sometimes he’s a bit rough.
Hello Gabrielle, First, I highly suggest crate training the puppy. Instead of letting him out of the crate when he cries, use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help him learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Once puppy is crate trained then life with both dogs can be a lot easier for everyone. Crate pup at night and when you leave, and you can use an exercise pen with some toys in it also. When you cannot directly supervise the dogs together, puppy should be crated or in the pen. When you are supervising, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Decide what your house rules are for all the dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. Things like: no aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, no keeping another dog away from an area or person, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if pup comes over to your older dog when he is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to him, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your older dog. If your older dog growls at or gets too rough with your pup, make your older dog leave the room while also disciplining pup if needed. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of the dogs - you want them to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and the dogs to learn respect for each other because you have taught it to them and not because they have had to use aggression, roughness, or bullying. If you want pup to be free but don't want to chase after him while you are home, you can also clip him to yourself using a six-foot leash, so that he has to stay near you and not wander near your other dog...and tell your older dog Out if he tries to antagonize puppy. Whenever puppy enters the room, give your older dog a treat while pup is not looking. Whenever he is calm, relaxed or tolerant of Huck also give him a treat. Try not to let Huck see you rewarding him though so that puppy doesn’t run over and overwhelm him or cause food aggression. Teach puppy and older dog Place - especially your older dog, and have them practice just staying on place when things need to be calmer. If either dog gets too wound up, send them to their crate, exercise pen, or place to calm down with a food stuffed chew toy - puppies especially will tend to get really crazy when over-tired, and need a chance to wind down and rest. Older dogs are more likely to become aggressive when highly aroused instead of calm. Always moderate their play at this stage and interrupt the play and let everyone calm down when things start to get overwhelming for either dog, one starts to bully or act scared, or they are getting highly aroused - When pup is a bit older wrestling, play growls, and running is normal, but watch for the energy going up and going and the dogs getting rougher in their play - give breaks when the energy starts to climb and get less gentle. You can practice Jazz Up Settle down at other times to work on impulse control....Get one of the dogs excited when they are by themselves, freeze and give a command, then stay frozen and wait for pup to obey. As soon as pup calms down enough to obey, give a treat, tell them Okay and "Go Play', then resume playing again....Practice this with less excitement at first and work up to more excitement before giving the command as they improve and can get themselves under control right away...Expect it to take a few minutes for them to calm down enough to obey at first. For the interactions with the cats practice similar things....Supervision around them, Out when they are bothering them, gentle corrections for chasing, staring, stalking, pestering, ect...Rewards for calmness and tolerance around them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My Siberian husky is being so good she just won’t stop focusing on the kids and we have recently just got the kitten is only about five weeks old so I am so scared that my dog will bite the cat and trying to play and hurt her I don’t know what to do I have put them both in separate rooms that one of them out every couple hours switch it up and my dog is just so focused on the cat that I have no idea what to do and I am terrified
Hello Sabrina, I suggest purchasing a tall sturdy baby gate that can be bolted into the doorway. Make sure the slats are small enough that the kitten cannot fit through. While you are there to supervise, let the animals get used to seeing each other through the baby gate, but make sure that it is tall enough that your Husky cannot jump over it, or use two baby gates to block the doorway completely. Whenever your Husky ignores the kitten or acts calm around the kitten, give him treats or pieces of his own kibble. The goal is to do this often enough that the kitten becomes boring, and he learns from you to be calm. Right now the kitten is new and exciting and Zoey does not know that it is a part of the family. When Zoey can ignore the kitten through the baby gate, after at least two weeks, then purchase a soft silicone basket muzzle for Zoey. Introduce the muzzle to Zoey with lots of treats very gradually, until she is comfortable wearing it. While Zoey is on a leash, let the animals very carefully interact. I suggest recruiting an additional person to help protect the kitten while you handle Zoey. Praise and reward Zoey for being nice to the kitten, ignoring the kitten, or being calm around the kitten. Correct roughness gently but firmly also. Use a silicone basket muzzle for training so that Zoey will be more comfortable wearing it and be able to open her mouth inside the muzzle. This will also let you pass her small treats or a straw dipped in soft cheese, peanut butter, or liver paste, through the muzzle's holes to reward her good behavior around the kitten. If she get to the point where she can calmly coexist with the kitten, then you can give her more freedom on the leash, but wait to take the muzzle off until all attempts at biting the kitten are gone. If you feel overwhelmed or things are not going well after a couple of weeks, then look into hiring a private trainer who has experience dealing with this and is well respected. Find someone who will come to your home and evaluate the animals together in person. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
My dog is about 3 years old he knows the commands Sit Stay and Leave it. He is just so excited that he ignores me. He also has a bad habit of marking the house. I am hoping that once he gets fixed the problems will decrease. On top of this now we have a cat who is a bit scared of our dog for good reason. The dog is never aggresive but he wants to chew lick and play with the cat. I'm not sure how to increase his self control or if maybe I should keep training him and hope he'll calm down when he gets fixed. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Amanda, The neutering will likely help some with the marking but I also suggest having him wear a belly band, which is a sling that goes around a dog's waist. You place an absorbent pad in the belly band to catch urine. Dogs mark to leave their scent. A belly band catches the scented urine so that a dog's marking attempts are unsuccessful. Every time that he marks he essentially is rewarded by being able to spread his scent, which makes efforts to stop him difficult. A belly band helps with consistency and is often used by rescue groups for male dogs in dog foster homes. Also, purchase a cleaner that contains enzymes. Look on the bottle. It should say enzyme or enzymatic somewhere. Only enzymes completely break down poop and pee. Any remaining scent (which a dog's sensitive dog can smell) will just encourage the dog to pee in the same spot again. The odor from previous markings needs to be gotten rid of thoroughly. Neutering should break the strong desire to mark and make training easier, but since he has developed a habit of marking now it will probably also require training to get him to stop the habit. For the over-excitement don't just depend on the neutering. It can help but neutering alone fixes very few behavior issues. It tends to make the dog easier to teach and less intense, but once the dog has learned a bad behavior you are still going to have to break that. The neutering will just make it easier to deal with, but won't fix it on it's own. Check out the videos and articles linked below for some good exercises to work on to increase his self-control and focus on you in general. At first, expect many of these exercises to be hard for him. Start slow, be patient, and work at it. Impulse control is a skill that he needs to practice often for it to improve, but it should improve with work. Age will also help a lot, but age alone won't break bad habits, it just calms the dog down a bit - but a calmer doing something you don't want is still a dog doing something you don't want, even if its not quite as bad as before. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo If you encounter any aggression toward you, hire a professional to help you right away. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Already on day 1 I see a big difference from those training videos. Me and my mom are going to purchase that belt you reccomended as well but so far hes doing great with the lessons and obedience. Thank you so much! For the first time training him isnt exhausting. I will make sure to keep following along with what you sent me :))
Was this experience helpful?
My girlfriend has a husky and I have a cat. Her mother encouraged the dog to chase stray cats from the yard so now she is very hostile towards cats. I've been researching for weeks and it doesn't look like there's much chance at fixing it. I'm hoping we can do something because both are beloved pets it will be heart breaking to give up one of them.
Hello Logan, I highly suggest hiring a trainer who can work with teaching her self-control, calmness, and counter conditioning (which means associating the cat with good things). Because she is so young there is a chance of breaking her of it but probably only if training is started now and if you can find a trainer who can help you teach her all of those things: 1. Calmness 2. Self-control (like staying in Place command or Down Stay even when the cat is around) 3. Counter Conditioning - which means associating the presence of the cat with good things so that she looks forward to its appearance but is taught to go to a bed or stay calm instead of chase it away, and is rewarded for her calmness and corrected for any attempts to chase. This will all need to be practiced very frequently and especially at the age she is right now instead of waiting to begin training. She is right at the edge of a key socialization period developmentally - that relates to how she will later view and react to things in the world around her. Your window is slowly closing potentially. There is no guarantee that training will be successful, but started soon and with a lot of work you might be able to salvage her relationship with at least your own cat - she might still feel hostile towards other cats but she may learn to accept your cat as part of the family and off limits for chasing. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?
Okay--doozie for you. We recently took in a husky for some friends who are moving to Guam and cannot take their dogs with them. He is great and well trained and we absolutely love him. We also have a two year old cat, who we absolutely love. We anticipated some tensions and tried to follow the steps that we read online to try to properly orient them. Scent swapping, screened orientation and finally face to face. On the morning of their first face to face things were going well, both seemed calm--which was a little strange and i let them approach eachother while holding the dogs collar and petting the cats head once they got face to face they sniffed eachother slightly and then just when I thought they were going to warm up to eachother and round the corner the dog bit the cats head....which was needless to say terrifying. The bite was just a "test bite" I believe, he didn't hurt her at all but it scared me a lot and now I'm not sure how to proceed. We bought a heavy duty muzzle so that if we try to introduce them again in the future it can't end in disaster. We have a shock collar that we have been hesitant to use because we've heard of horror stories with them but we're kind of at a loss. It has only been four weeks and I understand that they are going to need a lot longer after reading this article. When we aren't trying to get them some exposure to eachother we keep the cat locked in a seperate room. If the cat is out we keep the dog on a leash. Please let me know what you think our best course of action. Oh also, the cat is pretty aggressive too, she will kind of go after him sometimes--not necessarily trying to scratch him but kind of getting in his face like its her territory. For some reason they aren't recognizing that A.) the dog can really hurt the cat and B.) the cat can do some damage to the dog (she has scratched him before). Thanks in advance for any help, we desperately need it!!!
Hello Matthew, 1. The muzzle is a good tool for you guys. 2. It does sound like there could be potential for things to go alright since they were calm at first and the bite was controlled - he could have killed her instantly if predatory, but there are definitely careful things that need to happen. Honestly I would love for you to find a trainer who has some experience with cats also. The cats behavior has pros and cons...Its good that she doesn't run and encourage chase behavior, but her attacking him can create fear aggression in the dog and make them hate each other - like two dogs that fight. You want to teach the cat to be tolerant too, and correct the cat for initiating fights (not defending herself but the sneak attacks and starting things), and to reward the cat for being tolerant of the dog. Cats are harder to train than dogs but can be trained - they generally have less desire to please though so you have to rely heavily on rewards and things they consider unpleasant and not things like praise and wanting to please. I suggest teaching the dog Place command, anchoring an strong eyehook into the wall near his Place bed and having a loose leash on him while he stays on Place - loose so that his obedience is what keeps him there and there is not extra tension, but a leash for safety reasons in case he bolts. You can practice having the animals in the same room while he is on Place and rewarding both for tolerance and correcting for unwanted behavior like staring intently, stalking, taunting, stiffening, growling, lunging, ect...The cat will do some of those behaviors and the dog some of them probably. The e-collar is a fantastic tool but it has to be used right and you need to only use a high quality one for this. You want to use working level e-collar training, which means the lowest level the dog responds to/feels when the cat isn't around, and have the corrections be way to enforce your dog disobeying a command they know well, like Leave It, Place, Watch Me, ect...so that the dog is being disciplined for disobedience and not just corrected whenever the cat appears - which makes things worse. The e-collar allows you to be extremely consistent with your rules if used correctly, but should be combined with rewards for being tolerant and calm - which the dog should learn how to be if the e-collar is used right. The purpose of punishment is to decrease an unwanted behavior enough so that you have the opportunity to reward the correct, calmer behavior instead. It interrupts the dog's intense state of mind just so that you can get the dog in a better state of mind for learning something good instead - like being calm and staying on place. Honestly, finding someone to help you who views e-collars with the same type of mentality as the person from the video linked below is what you need - he specializes in dealing with livestock chasing behavior and understands prey drive and animal to animal interactions well, and uses a lot of positive reinforcement in his training also. E-collar come training overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJxSXu4rfs Place command: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-place-command-the-good-dog-training-tips/ Desensitizing a dog and cat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojIQmMuOwns Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Awesome, wow thank you so much for providing us with all of this information! We'll impliment and let you know how it goes :)
Was this experience helpful?
We recently adopted a one year old husky named Blue from a local animal shelter. They told us his previous owners had two cats. Anyway, we have three cats of our own and when we brought Blue home he instantly chased two of them and became fixated almost frenzied and wont respond well to verbal commands. Later on we tried introducing one of our cats to him and Blue lunged at him and nipped kinda hard at the cats back. I was reading about prey drive and basically just am wondering if there's anything we can do to break him of his fixation on the cats. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Matt, Check out the video linked below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y Since he has a history of getting along with a couple of cats, there is a chance he can be trained to leave your cats alone. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Was this experience helpful?