Are your dog and cat fighting like, well, cats and dogs? Here are tips from the GoodDog! Helpline on how to prevent an interspecies war in your household.
Prevent It from the Start:
If at all possible, raise your puppy from a very young age (under 12 weeks) around your household cats. This is an incredibly impressionable age for pups, so learning that cats are friends is much easier during this stage of development.
When you bring a puppy or a kitten home, introduce them to other pets slowly—preferably at a time when both are calm or even tired. Reward your dog for any calmness around the cat.
Provide your cat both something to hide under as well as a higher-up place to hang out. If he is unreachable, he is less likely to run away and trigger your dog’s chasing instinct.
Teach your dog strong “Leave It” and “Come” commands.
Change the Behavior:
If your dog already chases the cat, it can be a challenging behavior to change—mostly because it stems from their natural instinct to chase. But it's not impossible. Here are some tips:
Reintroduction: Reintroduce them as if they were new to the household. Encourage calmness and reward him when his attention is on you instead of the cat. If one of them starts to become agitated, separate immediately and reintroduce them with more distance between them at another time.
Teach your dog strong “Leave It” and “Come” commands: Start the training away from the cats so that your dog is not distracted or overexcited. Reward his success well and make it, step by step, more challenging. With a solid “Leave It,” most dogs can refrain from chasing a fleeing cat.
Teach your dog that when the cat comes around, great things happen somewhere else: And that somewhere else is where his attention will be focused. For example, every time Kitty saunters into the living room, a piece of hot dog appears in Puppy’s bowl. With consistency, there’s a good chance that the appearance of the cat will send him trotting to his bowl.
Seek the help of a professional dog trainer: Changing behavior takes time and effort, and a professional can guide you and your dog through the process.
For one-on-one advice, contact the GoodDog! Helpline.