As a dog trainer, I have often been asked for assistance to establish peace in a home between the family dog and cat. With time and patience, it is not as difficult as you might think to create harmony among your pets. It all comes down to having some methods to control the interaction between the dog and cat. Usually it is the dog that is mercilessly chasing the cat. This is instinctual prey drive. If the cat runs, the dog chases – simple as that. Our goal is to develop some control over the dog’s prey drive. Here are some techniques for controlling and managing the chase instincts of the dog:
Develop a good “watch me” or Attention command. This is usually done with a high value food reward – something the dog really loves. This will take some preparation, perhaps about a week ahead of working with the cat, to develop the automatic response from the dog.
In all interactions, we want to keep both pets safe. I usually begin by placing the cat inside a small plastic crate and bring it into room with the dog. As the dog shows interest in the cat inside the crate, I redirect the dog to me using the Attention command. Once the dog is leaving the cat willingly, I move on to the next step.
Introduce the dog to a muzzle for the safety of the cat during this training phase. I use an Italian Basket Muzzle so that the dog can breathe normally and pant if necessary. Also I can reward the dog with treats easily through the openings in the muzzle.
With the dog on a leash and wearing the muzzle, I allow the cat to move freely through the room. Most cats will be nervous at first and will attempt to hide. Just wait until they are comfortable and trust that you will not allow the dog to chase them. As the dog is showing interest in the cat, use your Attention command and food reward to redirect the dog’s attention onto you.
With the dog on a long line (15-20 feet long) and wearing the muzzle, allow the cat to move freely within the room. Be ready to reel your dog in if he chases or charges the cat. Continue to use the Attention command to get your dog to focus on you for a food reward instead of obsessing about the cat.
Allow your dog to drag the long line, still wearing the muzzle, provided he is responding well to the Attention command. Be ready to grab or step on the line if your dog charges after the cat.
Don’t quit too soon! If your dog is doing well, switch the long line for a regular leash. He should still be wearing the muzzle, but have him drag his leash so that you can retrieve him quickly if he charges after the cat.
Another way your dog can be trained well and properly is by using the right training tools like barx buddy training device.
Once your dog has mastered this, allow him to be in the room with the cat wearing only the muzzle. You should call him to you often and reward with high value food rewards.
When you feel ready to remove the muzzle, you may go back to placing your dog on a long line or leash as extra insurance that all is still under control. But it should not be long before you have the confidence in your dog that he will not aggressively chase your cat in short order after this step. At any time, if you feel that your dog is anxious or just too excited, move him further away from the cat until he calms down. Any time your dog does not perform a step well for at least several days in a row, return to the previous step and continue to build his skill there before moving on.