The phrase “fighting like cats and dogs” is not popular for nothing. While they normally don’t get along well, you’ve probably already seen some dogs and cats that eventually turn out to be best friends.
If you’re an animal lover and you have both as pets, don’t simply accept defeat and believe that they are destined to clash and you can’t do anything about it. Through successful dog training with cats, these two completely different species can actually live together in harmony.
So in this article, we’ll discuss some tips on how your dog can be trained to interact with a cat peacefully.
1. Obedience training
If you see your dog chase after your cat or other small animals, this is perfectly normal behavior as dogs have a higher prey instinct.
An effective way to get rid of this unwanted behavior is by conducting obedience training. Your dog won’t automatically learn that chasing after your cat is unacceptable behavior, so you have to train it.
By simply teaching your dog some basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘stay’, as well as training it to come towards you when called, you’ll be able to handle your dog more easily and manage the situation when they get into an encounter.
What’s even better is that obedience training can strengthen your bond and improve your communication with your pet– ultimately making you a better dog owner.
2. Dog training to help it stay calm around your cat
Help your dog understand what type of behavior is expected when it encounters the cat. For instance, you can make your dog sit or lie down to promote calm behavior when the cat is around. You can also ask it to stay while the cat wanders around nearby.
When it successfully performs the expected behaviors, reward your dog with treats and verbal praises to reinforce its calm demeanor.
You can test if the training is effective by first keeping it as far from your cat as possible while on its leash and slowly moving it closer towards your cat. If your dog automatically looks at you as if waiting for a reward when it’s near the cat, this means it associates the cat with the rewards.
Eventually, your dog will learn how to behave in a safe and predictable manner while your cat is around even without giving it treats. Once you’re confident with it’s progress, you can already drop the leash and allow it to roam free with the cat.
If you even find your dog still chasing the cat, you can also try to divert its attention to a more acceptable chasing game such as fetch.
Desensitization is aimed at minimizing the reaction of your dog towards your cat by constant exposure.
When you first introduce your cat to your dog, you may notice some overreaction which can overwhelm your cat or make it anxious. You can’t expect them to get along well in just a matter of hours– there should at least be some subtle interactions first until they get familiar with each other’s presence.
Probably the best way to desensitize your pets is by using a baby gate. This can help you separate them physically, but will allow them to still see and sniff each other through the gate.
You need to be watchful and try to divert your dog’s attention when you notice that it is being overly fixated on your cat. You’ll know that your desensitization efforts are successful when your dog eventually loses interest in your cat and no longer overreacts whenever they see each other.
4. Make a Proper Introduction
Earlier, we mentioned the use of a baby gate to make the initial interactions more subtle and also to prevent potential injuries. Once you manage to desensitize your pets, it’s time to try and see if they will remain calm when brought together in the same room.
Make sure that the location gives enough room for your cat to escape if ever it feels the need to do so. Also, it’s recommended to keep your dog on a leash during this first proper encounter so you can easily control its movement.
At first, keep these ‘meet-ups’ short, but on a regular basis. Do this for at least a week and give some treats to your dog and cat if they are well-behaved during these interactions.
Doing this will help build a positive association with each other. To make the rewards more effective, choose a tasty treat that they don’t normally get. The special treats should only be reserved for these sessions so they will look forward to meeting with each other.
5. Give your dog enough exercise
It’s important that your dog’s energy is released so they can control themselves and slow down their brains instead of getting too excited whenever they see your cat.
By giving it fun toys, lure coursing, or other high-intensity activities and training, your dog will get the stimulation it needs. Consequently, your dog will find chasing your cat less satisfying.
So instead of just taking it for a short walk from time to time, try out other more effective means of unleashing its energy. In case you can’t find the time to do these activities with your dog, you can get a professional dog trainer, enroll it in a doggy daycare, or get a dog walker.
It takes time for dogs and cats to become friends. However, if you’re patient, it’s only a matter of time when they learn how to behave around each other.
Dog training with cats is not easy, but successfully teaching your dog to get along with your cat can make your life so much easier. If you intend to keep both as pets, you might want to consider raising them together. Socializing dogs and cats at such a young age can be easier than introducing the two when they’re already adults.
If you find yourself still struggling despite following the tips shared in this article, it’s best to seek the help of professional dog trainers. They can expertly teach your dog how to co-exist peacefully with your cat, as well as train it to understand basic commands and perform cool tricks.
So don’t let their fights drive you nuts– professional dog training is the fastest and most convenient way to address this issue!