Dogs are predatory animals and will instinctively chase small animals, including cats. However, this does not mean you can’t have a cat and dog in the same household. Teach your dog not to chase your cats for a safe and harmonious home.
Introduce your dog to cats at a very young age. Puppies under 12 weeks of age are more likely to accept smaller animals as part of their family, making them less likely to chase cats.
Let the dog outside and encourage him run off excess energy before the introduction. Take him for a long walk, or throw a toy for him for at least 15 minutes. Let him run and play until he seems tired and wants to go in the house.
Confine the dog in a safe room. Close off the door with a baby gate and make the dog sit on his side of the gate. Reward the dog with a treat and tell him to stay.
Bring the cat into the room, and allow the cat to approach the gate. Toss the cat a treat when she approaches the gate to show her the dog is a positive addition to her environment. If the dog reacts inappropriately, distract him by asking him to sit. Repeat this process a few times a day until both the cat and dog are comfortable on their respective sides of the gate.
Leash the dog and remove the gate. Tell the dog to sit, and call your cat into the room. Keep the dog under control as the cat approaches, and let the cat get as close to the dog as she wants. If the dog attempts to chase or harass the cat, redirect his attention to you with a treat and reward him when he ignores the cat. Continue this on-leash introduction until both cat and dog show no interest in each other.
Turn the dog loose and let the animals explore each other on their own terms. The cat may swat at the dog, but this is a natural deterrent and tells the dog he is getting too close. If either animal shows any signs of aggression, put the dog back on leash until both animals are completely comfortable.
- Separate the animals when you leave the house. Even if the cat and dog get along well in your presence, separation prevents unwanted injuries.
- Never punish your animals during an introduction. If you use punishment, the animals will view the situation as a negative experience and may never accept each other.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.