Puppies and kittens raised together are well-known for getting along. If properly introduced, even adult pets can with "that strange animal." However, one of the most typical issues is educating your new dog to respect your cat and not chase it.
Some canines have a strong desire to hunt cats. The inborn hunting instinct of herding and terrier types is triggered by motion. Of course, cats despise being made into a wind-up toy for the dog's entertainment. The "chase" can become life-threatening in rare situations. There are a few strategies you may use to educate your puppy not to chase your cat, encourage positive behavior, and keep your kitty safe.
Muzzle for Safety
In serious cases where you truly fear the fur will fly, a muzzle for your puppy may be the best and safest option. A basket muzzle is a good option for keeping the cat safe around a clueless puppy.
You will need to teach your dog to accept the muzzle:
- Show the dog the muzzle. Let it sniff the muzzle so it becomes a familiar item.
- Hold the basket muzzle like a bowl.
- Put a favorite treat inside and show it to the dog.
- Hold the muzzle so the pup sticks its nose inside to get the treat.
- Repeat feeding your pup the treat from the muzzle a dozen times.
- Finally, fasten the muzzle and reward the dog with several treats for tolerating it. Then take it off. Do not offer treats unless it's wearing the muzzle so the dog associates wearing it with treats.
For dogs that salivate at the sight of the cat, make sure the muzzle is worn whenever you can’t supervise the pair.
Most dogs don’t mean to hurt the cat, rather they just can’t resist the lure of the chase. Trainers suggest a couple of approaches that can cure this.
Using a protected carrier for the cat while the puppy is on a leash is one option. Only use this method if your cat is a confident feline who will not be overly stressed. This circumstance should not be put on shy cats.
- Place your kitty in a protective carrier while the puppy is in another room. Provide a toy or catnip to help keep the cat calm.
- Bring the puppy into the room and offer its favorite treats one after another to keep it focused on you and to reward the calm behavior.
- Ask the pup to practice a sit, to follow you on the leash in a heel position, or to Practice obedience commands your puppy knows very well and reward it for obeying.
- Offer the best treats for moving or looking away from the cat. The idea is to teach your puppy that it gets better attention and rewards by ignoring the cat rather than pestering it.
"Cookie Cat” Technique
The "cookie cat" method is more efficient. Just like Pavlov trained dogs to salivate when they heard a bell, you may educate your puppy to react to the presence of the cat in a way that prevents the pursuit from starting.
- Ensure the cat’s safety by keeping your and preventing any chase from taking place. Most puppies prefer cat-chasing to any other reward so don’t allow your pup to get a taste of it.
- Have plenty of smelly, tasty treats handy. These should be irresistible and something the puppy only gets for this exercise.
- Don’t confine the cat at all. Allow it to move around at will while you keep the puppy’s attention on you as much as possible by teasing with the treats.
- Each time the cat makes an appearance, moves, or otherwise draws the puppy’s attention, give a tiny taste of a treat. Partner this with the CLICK cue of the clicker if you have your dog.
- Be consistent. Offer this treat-CLICK reward every single time, whether your puppy is calm, excited, looks at the cat, barks, or anything else. The equation should be: A cat's presence equals dog treat.
- Use the leash to keep your puppy safely out of paw-reach of the cat, but not to force its attention. You want the puppy to choose to look at you for the treat, not be forced to do so. Given time, the puppy's brain will connect the dots and figure out that when it sees the cat, it should look to you for a treat—it's impossible to chase while accepting that yummy treat!
- Continue to reinforce this behavior for at least a week or more. With consistency, most dogs will get it within only a few sessions.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
When not supervised, keep the dog leashed and the pets apart until you're convinced the new canine behavior has been established. Return to the beginning of your training if you notice the dog relapsing to the chasing habit. It might just take a few more sessions to truly embed the desired behavior.
You can attempt some off-leash sessions with the cat once your dog has learnt the boundaries. Always make sure your cat has plenty of "second story" territory, such as the backs of chairs, cat trees, or shelves, to keep him safe from your nose. Both the puppy and the cat can eventually learn to appreciate and respect one other and form a fuzzy relationship.