There are a few things you can do to get your dog to stop chasing cats. First, make sure that your dog is not overly excited or aroused by the presence of cats. If your dog is constantly chasing cats, it may be because they are feeling territorial or anxious. Try to provide your dog with positive reinforcement when they are behaving well around cats, such as giving them treats or playing with them. If your dog is not responding to training or positive reinforcement, you may need to take more drastic measures. One option is to get your dog a shock collar, which can be used to discourage them from chasing cats.
Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs." Dogs chasing cats can be a problem, but don't worry: positive reinforcement can teach your dog not to chase cats.
How to Stop Your Dog From Pursuing Cats
To successfully stop a dog from chasing cats, it is necessary to combine several strategies. Owning a dog with a very strong prey drive may make it almost impossible for him/her to successfully co-habit with cats.This is where human intervention comes into play to put a stop to this unpleasant and unwanted behavior.
Chasing cats is a dangerous hobby that can cause a cat to be terrorized, injured, or even killed by a dog. Dogs, on the other hand, risk being scratched (and possibly losing their eyesight) and even bitten by a terrified cat.
If you have recently added a dog to your cat's household, keep in mind that this may be very stressful for your cat, as cats dislike having their routines and daily habits disrupted.Furthermore, cats have a strong sense of belonging to their territory, and having it "invaded" by a dog may cause them considerable anxiety.
Often, dog owners are unsure how to redirect their dog's behavior and stop him from chasing poor kitty. Dogs appear to be so fixated on chasing the cat that nothing seems to work.Some non-cat-friendly dog breeds can be especially difficult to train around cats.
How to Resolve the Issue
As previously stated, the best response is to employ a multifaceted approach that combines providing kitty with a safe haven, managing the dog's environment to prevent rehearsal of the troublesome chasing behaviors, desensitizing the dog to the cat's movements, and training the dog in an alternate behavior.
1. Provide a safe haven for your cat.
It's not fair for kitty to have a heart attack every time Rover comes into the room if you've just brought home a puppy or dog. Young puppies may be quite curious and may want to pester the cat into a game of rough play or chase.Adult dogs may want to play as well, or they may take a more serious stance if they see a cat running, which may stimulate their predatory drive.
It is critical for your cat's comfort and safety that he or she has a safe place to retreat that is out of reach of your dog, and there are several options for providing such areas.
You can use a pet baby gate with a small pet door at the bottom that is large enough for kitty to pass through but not large enough for your dog to pass through, or you can provide kitty with cat trees and condos that are high enough to be out of reach of your dog.
If your cat is stressed, you may want to give him or her some calming aids like Feliway or Comfort Zone, which are products that mimic a chemical that cats are known to emit through special glands on their faces when they are relaxed.
There are also several over-the-counter supplements that can help calm down nervous cats, such as Anxitane or Composure, which contain l-theanine.
Give Kitty a Break From Your Angry Dog
2. Prevent Chasing Behavior Rehearsal
Because a new dog has been welcomed into your home, your cat should not be destined to a future filled with days of stress. While it is important to provide kitty with a safe haven to retreat to, this does not mean your cat has to spend the rest of his days hiding there due to the threat of being chased.
It is therefore critical that your new puppy or dog is not allowed to repeatedly practice chasing behaviors; chasing a cat can quickly become your dog's favorite pastime, which is not a good hobby.
Preventing chasing behavior rehearsal necessitates strict management, which entails keeping your dog away from your cat when you are not supervising and keeping him under control when you are.
When your dog cannot be supervised, consider using crates, pet gates, exercise pens, playpens, and fences as management tools. Make sure your dog cannot escape by chewing, digging, or climbing over or under these barriers.
When you are actively supervising your dog, you can control him and prevent him from rehearsing chasing behaviors with a collar and leash, and later, with just voice control and training. If you are concerned about your dog potentially breaking free from your grip on the leash and injuring your cat, by all means, let him wear a basket muzzle.It never hurts to add an extra layer of protection and to be on the safe side.
3. Teach Your Canine to "Leave It"
Dog owners frequently believe that the best way to train a dog to stop doing something is to use intimidation, whether in the form of shock delivered by a collar, aversive sounds (shaking a can of coins or blowing an air horn), or physical correction (giving the dog an alpha roll, pushing him, or holding his muzzle shut).
Intimidation, on the other hand, frequently has negative consequences (the dog risks associating you and the cat with a negative experience, the dog may become noise-sensitive or afraid of water, the dog may develop a lack of trust, the dog may begin biting when physically corrected, etc.). Furthermore, because the dog learns to associate the correction with you, there is a chance that he will chase the cat when you leave the room or leave the house.
Teaching your dog to "leave it" with positive reinforcement accomplishes two things: it establishes positive associations between your dog and your cat, as well as between your dog and you, and it provides your dog with an alternate rewarding behavior to perform—which your dog wants to perform willingly because it is so rewarding.
Put your dog on a leash and arm yourself with high-value training treats to begin training your dog to leave it. For now, practice with a stuffed animal attached to a string or, even better, a flirt pole (a pole with a stuffed critter attached).
While another person wiggles the stuffed animal at a distance, sit next to your dog and, when he shows signs of interest, tell him to "leave it" and immediately deliver him a tasty treat.Repeat several times, gradually bringing the stuffed animal closer and closer, and practicing more "leave it"s.
At some point, have the helper place the stuffed animal in front of your dog and then move it away (as if it were an animal fleeing) while you practice "leave it." Give your dog a jackpot of treats (5-6 small treats at once) scattered for not chasing the stuffed animal.
Remember that when a cat is within chasing distance, most dogs are unable to cognitively function (they can't think straight), and they may even care less about treats.
If your dog isn't responsive at any point, it's probably because he's too close to the stuffed animal (and thus not ready for this level of distraction yet) or the treats you're feeding aren't high enough in value. Go back a few steps, temporarily increasing distance, and try increasing the value of the treats if he seems disinterested.Tossing the treat rather than hand-feeding it may be more appealing because it incorporates a fun game of "chase the treat."
Next, put your dog on a leash and find a distance from your cat where your dog is under threshold; you may need to enlist the assistance of another person to keep the cat at the proper distance.
Once you've found a distance where your dog isn't too concerned about your cat, have him practice "leave it," just like you did with the stuffed animal, and once you've got a solid response, you can practice closer distances.
When you believe your dog is fluent, have your cat nearby and have a friend call your cat by calling his name or shaking a box of cat food, causing your cat to run away.Prepare to ask your dog to "leave it" for this exercise, and be ready to reward him with a jackpot of treats if he does. Practice several times.
When your dog appears to be reliable, it may be time to begin off-leash training; however, if you are concerned about safety, make sure your dog wears the muzzle.Practice first in an area where your cat can retreat if necessary (for example, in front of a pet gate with a cat door or near a cat tree).
You may notice that your dog has good voice control and looks forward to your kitty approaching because he has associated kitty with all of the tasty treats used in this exercise.
And, for those concerned about the calories associated with treats, you don't have to use them all the time in dog training; as your dog becomes accustomed to being around kitty, these exercises can later be done with a portion of the dog's daily kibble ratio.Food can be used less frequently later on, but it is still important to use it occasionally to maintain and reinforce good behavior.
Help Control Prey Drive
4. Experiment with Clicker Training
Some dog owners have asked me about using a clicker to teach their dog not to chase cats, and I have found it to be an excellent tool for this task.
Clicker training is exactly what the name implies: training with a clicker, which is a small device that emits a distinct clicking sound that dogs respond to through a simple conditioning process.
In contrast to other aversive training methods, clicker training primarily focuses on positive reinforcement; there is no pain, fear, or stress in clicker training, and, best of all, dogs appear to respond quickly and enthusiastically.
The main advantage of clicker training, which was first introduced by marine mammal trainer Karen Pryor, is that it works to the benefit of both the dog and the owner. By using rewards, dogs enjoy the training and look forward to it, while owners get their pet's attention, putting them on the path to success.
It is in the nature of dogs and animals in general to associate actions with pleasant or unpleasant consequences, and when clicker training a dog, these actions are recorded in the pet's mind because they are associated with a pleasant consequence.
Clicker training a dog with a strong prey drive that causes him or her to chase cats teaches the dog to redirect his attention to something else while being rewarded for the attention. Clicker training a dog is very simple; all that is required is a dog, a clicker, and some tasty rewards.
One important consideration is that dogs appear to respond better when they are on an empty stomach and are given high-value rewards, which is why dog trainers frequently advise their clients to bring their dogs to training sessions on an empty stomach.More often than not, the sensation of an empty stomach is accompanied by a strong desire to perform certain desired actions.
High value treats are not ordinary treats, which is why they are called such. Freeze dried liver treats are a popular treat used by dog trainers all over the world.These can be ordered online or found in some large pet retail stores; alternatively, owners can try slices of cooked hot dogs, cheese, steak, or grilled chicken.
It all starts with introducing the dog to the clicker and allowing the dog to sniff it.Then you'll click it, and each click will be followed by a treat, so the dog will quickly learn to associate the clicking sound with a treat.The clicker has been "charged" at this point, according to training jargon.
To begin, a quiet area is usually best, and the dog should be leashed; the cat should be released from a room but not allowed to escape for the time being.You want to set the dog up for success, so instead of exposing him to the cat running and having him fail by chasing, let the cat come out of the room and have someone try to keep the cat calm.
You should click and give the dog a treat as soon as the dog starts staring at the cat; for this to work, the treat should come as soon as the click sound is produced.Allow too many seconds to pass and the dog will no longer understand why you are clicking him (not chasing the cat).
If the dog does not respond to the click, it is possible that the cat is too close; try again with the cat at a greater distance.Allow the cat to get closer as the dog appears to respond to the click; after a few days, the dog should have learned that the clicker is a much more interesting device than paying attention to the cat.The dog has achieved success when it is no longer interested in chasing the cat and is no longer staring at the cat as prey.
The most important aspect of clicker training is that the dog will gradually be conditioned to repeat a determined action (in this case, refraining from chasing the cat) in order to receive a reward. This collaboration, in intentionally making this decision in exchange for a reinforcing reward, is known as ''operant conditioning.''
The dog will essentially avoid the cat because he or she has a specific goal in mind: obtaining the reward. At this point, your dog will become very collaborative, confident, and even enthusiastic because it is in his favor, whereas you will have successfully solved the problem.It is ultimately a win-win situation for the dog, the owner, and the cats.
5th. Practice "Look Into My Eyes"
Another method for preventing dogs from chasing cats is to train a very solid response to a smacking sound made with my mouth that tells the dog to pay attention to me, which can work well with dogs with strong predatory drive because many dogs seem to respond better to a sound we make rather than our voice.
You can then practice this exercise in increasingly distracting environments, such as the yard, then watching triggers pass by the window, to learn how to train a dog to look into your eyes.
Once you've received a positive response, you'll need to work around the cat, but with your dog on a leash and at a safe distance from the cat, in order to keep the dog under threshold.
* If you're worried about your dog slipping out of your grasp on the leash and injuring your cat, let him/her wear a basket muzzle; it never hurts to add an extra layer of protection and play it safe.
*If your dog isn't responding at any point, it's probably because he's too close to the cat (and thus not ready for this level of distraction yet) or the treats you're using aren't high-value enough; go back a few steps, increasing distance temporarily, and try increasing the value of the treats if your dog appears disinterested.
6. Visiting a Mat
All dogs can be trained to lie down on a mat at specific times when you may want your cat to be nearby but want to keep your dogs all together and engaged in some other activity; in this case, you can give your dogs something tasty to eat on their mats.
However, keep your cat away from them as many dogs will resource guard food from cats, and keep the mats apart to prevent food guarding between your dogs.The video below shows how to train a dog to lie on a mat.
Some Extra Tips
Here are some additional pointers that may be useful:
-Be especially cautious if you have multiple dogs; in a household with multiple dogs and a cat, things can become quite difficult because multiple dogs loose together will form a sort of "group mentality," and they'll all want to join in the fun of chasing.Most importantly, group chasing increases the likelihood of mishaps such as injury or predatory drift.
-Protect your kitty as much as possible, not only from potential injury but also from emotional distress. Just this summer, I had to work on a case with a beagle who harassed the household cat; he never hurt the cat, but the poor cat was terrified of moving freely around the house.She moved slowly and spent most of her life walking on shelves, tables, and tall chairs, so she had to check when he was around to use her litter box or go to eat.I felt sorry for the poor cat every time the beagle saw her and tried to mount her.
-Think about calming aids; many cats become stressed when they live with dogs.Most cats will feel better after separation, but some will remain stressed simply by seeing/hearing dogs on the other side. If your cat is stressed, you may also want to provide some calming aids.There are several pheromone-based products, such as Feliway or Comfort Zone, that mimic a chemical that cats are known to emit through special glands on their faces when they are calm, as well as several over-the-counter supplements that can help calm nervous kitties.Products containing l-theanine are examples.
-Never let your guard down; a disclaimer is in order here.Dogs and cats may appear to get along at times, but accidents can happen at any time, so always supervise your pets and put safety first.Even among dogs, fights may occur in the presence of a cat due to redirected aggression, so have a plan in place to separate dogs in the event of a fight (keep an air horn handy, two pot lids to slam together for a startling effect, a bucket of water, etc).If your dogs are guarding food from one another or displaying other types of aggression, please consult with a behavior professional for safety and proper behavior modification implementation.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author's knowledge, but it is not intended to replace a veterinary medical professional's diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice.Animals displaying distress symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli
On March 23, 2012, Natasha from Hawaii wrote: from Hawaii on March 23, 2012:
I've bookmarked this for future reference! One of my roommates has a cat, and the dogs always try to chase him.I'll have to see what I can do with your advice! Voted up and useful.
On June 23, 2011, justmesuzanne from Texas wrote: from Texas on June 23, 2011:
I think they'll eventually decide it's not worth the effort, but they're stubborn and have to try everything in their arsenal first.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) posted this on June 22, 2011: on June 22, 2011:
Hide somewhere and catch these sneaky guys in the act; if you hide frequently enough, they will learn that even when it appears that you are not there, you are.
On June 22, 2011, justmesuzanne from Texas wrote: from Texas on June 22, 2011:
Because they have to stay tied up all the time, my neighbor's little dachshunds come over every afternoon for a play date with my dogs; those smart, sneaky little devils know they aren't supposed to chase my cats, and they don't when I'm looking at them, but if I step into the house for a few seconds, they zone in on one of my older cats.They've even learned to do it without barking. Of course, the answer is to never take my gaze away from them, which I do.It's incredible how smart and cunning these little guys are!
On October 21, 2009, Oliver Tobey Hall: on October 21, 2009:
I'm Oliver, and I'm commenting on your dog and cat photos.
On September 17, 2009, Joni Solis stated: on September 17, 2009:
I have had a high prey drive Heeler mix female since she was about four months old (adopted from an animal shelter), and she is clicker trained and very smart.She has been around my cat since the day I brought her home four or more years ago, but she still wants to chase her and probably always will; she will stop chasing her if I ask her to, but I wouldn't leave her alone in a room with my cat.
I strongly advise all people who adopt from our rescue group to use clicker training.
On September 13, 2009, Kartika Damon from Fairfield, Iowa wrote: from Fairfield, Iowa on September 13, 2009:
This is very interesting; I recently launched a.com and are collaborating with a dog trainer who employs clicker training; I will be learning more and more about this method and believe it is unquestionably the way to go!
How can I get my dog to stop chasing my cat?
If he tries to lunge or chase your cat, tell him "no" and put him in a separate room for a few minutes. If you notice your dog fixating on your cat, redirect his attention immediately.Tell him to come or leave, and when he turns and obeys, praise and reward him.tell him "no" and put him in a room by himself for a few minutes. As soon as you notice your dog fixating on your cat, redirect his attention immediately. Tell him to come or leave it. When he turns and obeys you, praise him and give him treats.
Why will my dog not stop chasing cats?
When a dog chases a cat, it is usually because they are following their instincts - especially if your dog is a breed that was originally used for chasing or herding. Other times, when a dog chases cats, it is because they want to play, and they will chase a cat in the same way that they would chase a ball thrown for them.usually because they are following their instincts – particularly if your dog is a breed originally used for chasing or herding. Other times, when a dog chases cats, they might just want to play, and they will chase a cat a little like they will chase a ball that has been thrown for them.
How do I teach my dog to respect the cat's space?
Redirect him with a toy or high-value treat, and reward and praise him when he looks away from the cat. It's also a good idea to teach your puppy the "leave it" command early on.. It's also a good idea to teach your puppy the “leave it” command early on.
Why is my dog suddenly chasing cats?
Your dogs may perceive your cat as prey, and some breeds have a naturally high prey drive. Aggression can also be a fear-based response in dogs after an unpleasant experience involving a cat or when a cat was present.Other dogs may become jealous if they believe a cat is monopolizing your attention.. Sometimes, aggression is a fear-based response in dogs following an unpleasant experience involving a cat or when a cat was present. Other dogs may become jealous if they feel a cat is taking too much of your attention.