In January, Petfinder held a live Q&A on Facebook with pet trainers Andrea Arden and Mychelle Blake. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some of our favorite questions and answers here on the blog. Have a pet question? Check back regularly for news about our next live Q&A!
Q: We just adopted a dog a few months ago, and he won’t stop chasing our cat around. At first they act like they are playing, then the dog gets too rough. We are afraid that he might hurt the cat. How do we get our cat and dog to co-exist?
A: Dogs and cats can certainly cohabitate. In fact, they can become wonderful friends. However, your dog is on the fast track to being ‘”de-’friended” by your cat for chasing him.
Focus on prevention
So first, focus on preventing this behavior. Each time you allow your dog to chase your cat, the habit is getting stronger and your cat’s comfort level with your dog is declining. Teach your dog to focus on you with hand targeting (teaching him to touch his nose to the palm of your hand) and other basic manners like sit and down, and practice those behaviors in the home, especially around your cat, with your dog on a leash.
Teach your dog to come when called
Additionally, work on a good recall (coming when called) by using the hand targeting to eventually call your dog to you from greater distances. Be sure to use very high-value rewards when practicing around your cat (again, with your dog on leash).
Feed him meals when your cat is nearby
With your dog on leash, feed him his meals from stuffable toys while your cat is present. That way he is practicing being calm and focused on toys while your cat wanders about, and your cat can feel safe doing so. These management tools need not necessarily be forever, just until you feel confident about the feline/canine dynamic.
Andrea Arden, CPDT
Andrea Arden Dog Training
New York, NY
Learn more about Petfinder’s Train FurKeeps program.
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