Dogs and cats can be known to be best of friends – or worst of foes! For dogs who have not been introduced to cats before, the urge to chase can occur. When a cat is being chased, it creates a stressful and potentially dangerous environment for both the cat and the dog.
In this blog, we share tips to increase your dog’s familiarity with cats, as well as develop their recall and cue training. This will encourage them to pay attention to you during an exciting situation, and help you train them not to chase cats.
Good behaviour begins at home
Before you introduce your dog to a new family member, such as a cat, be sure to keep them safely separated for the first few weeks. Slow introductions, such as allowing them to smell each other through a fenced space, like a baby gate, are recommended.
You can also allow your dog to smell cat-related items prior to the introduction, such as cat toys or bedding. This will help your dog get familiarized with the cat’s scent. Keeping your dog on a leash may also be a good idea, in case they get overwhelmed with excitement at the presence of the new cat.
You should give your cat a space within your house that is off-limits for your dog until they are acclimated to each other. Make sure to never leave a dog and cat alone together unattended. It is also important to always use positive reinforcement to reward good behaviour. For example, give your canine companion a treat whenever they remain calm around the cat, sit when asked, or don’t engage with the cat. This will encourage your dog’s respect towards their new furry family member.
Read more about introducing dogs and cats here on our blog.
Work on canine cues
You can use treats for both your cat and dog to keep them focused on you instead of each other in those first few meetings. Practice basic verbal cues with your dog such as stay, come, and leave it. You can also try clicker training as a way to create a positive bridge between your dog and your cat. Many dogs respond very well to clicker training when done correctly.
If you find your dog is too enthusiastic with your new cat, consider speaking with an experienced professional positive reinforcement-based dog trainer or behaviourist. They can help you to reinforce your basic training and provide suggestions to keep both of your furry friends comfortable around each other.
Click to learn more about choosing a dog trainer.
In the neighbourhood
Even if your dog is being respectful of cats in your household, always keep your dog on a leash when outside the home. This is not only in case they see a community cat, but for the general safety of your dog, as well.
With proper training and introductions, many dogs can learn to respect and even become good friends with their new furry family member!
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