If you have cats and a young puppy, chances are the puppy will think the cat is a toy and chase it around. It’s in the pup’s innate nature to chase after smaller animals, and cats are hard-wired to run from anything unfamiliar and potentially dangerous. Introducing a puppy into a home with cats can be challenging, but simple training techniques can teach your pup that the family cat is off limits.
Things You'll Need
- Halter or collar
- Baby gate
- Dog crate
Keep your puppy on a halter or collar and leash when in the same room with the cat. Controlling the dog is the best initial step to curtailing cat chasing behavior. Keep the leash loose, but if the puppy pulls on the leash to try to chase the cat, give the leash a yank accompanied with a firm “No.”
Establish yourself as alpha with the puppy. Basic obedience training to obey commands down, sit, stay and come will establish you as pack leader with the puppy. This will go a long way in making the puppy follow your lead and leave the cat alone on command.
Exercise the puppy. Keep the pup tired. A rambunctious puppy will have little willpower or control when the cat is present. Take the dog for a long run or walk before trying to train it to coexist with cats. Exercising the puppy before allowing it in the home with the cat is especially important if the puppy has been left alone for a few hours.
Keep the puppy confined so the cat has freedom to roam without fear of dog assault. Place a gate where the pup is restrained, but the cat can safely investigate and get familiar with the dog on its own terms. Use a baby gate to separate the animals until the puppy is trained enough to obey commands to “leave it.”
Leave escape routes for the cat. When first allowing the dog to be free in the presence of the cat, be sure the cat has plenty of escape routes to get away from the puppy.
Reward the puppy for sitting and staying in the presence of the cat. While physically controlling the dog, command it to lie down. Allow the cat to investigate the dog. Command the dog to stay and reward it with treats.
Distract the puppy with toys. If the dog fixates on the cat, distract it with dog toys.
Keep the cat’s litter box physically out of bounds to the dog. The cat needs to feel secure when it’s doing its business, and dogs need to stay out of cat feces for health reasons.
Show lots of attention to the resident cat. Don’t focus all your attention on the errant pup, the cat needs attention, too.
Feed cats and dogs separately. The cat needs to know it’s safe and secure to eat in peace. Place the cat’s food on an elevated place so the dog can’t get to it.
Crate the puppy. When you are unable to supervise interaction between the dog and cat, put the pup in its crate.
Be patient. Cats will accept a dog on their own terms and in their own time. Hissing and batting at the dog are natural. The older the puppy gets, and the better the dog is trained, the easier it will be to stop it from harassing the cat.