Teach Your Dog How to Live with Cats

Learn the steps to help dogs and cats live together peacefully.

Brought to you by Training Your Puppy in 5 Minutes

If it moves, pup will chase it. That’s part of being a predator. It is called the prey drive, and all dogs have it. Most cats will run from a predator. A small percentage will remain still, make themselves look bigger and threaten the predator. Either of these situations can prove dangerous to your puppy.

Cats have a high prey drive also. They also have great self-preservation instincts and the tools to go with them: claws and needle-sharp teeth. Unless you have a cat that was raised with dogs, there will be problems with integration of the two pets. A cat that is acclimated to the movements and actions of a canine will know that she shouldn’t run away from the puppy and should generally accept the pups overtures to a point. When that point is reached, the cat will bat at the pup with the claws retracted. The cat might hiss or spit at the pup. For most pups, this is enough of a hint that he went too far. For some, however, its just an invitation to play harder.

For the bolder pup that learns things the hard way, a cat might prove very dangerous. You will need to step in and redirect your puppy into another game; otherwise, you are risking his being scratched by the cat. A means of redirecting the pup from a distance would be to spray water in his face. This distracts him from the cat game and might even teach him to associate the water spritz with incorrect behavior, thus curing the cat-chasing problem altogether.

Redirection can also be used for games of tag. Cats that have been raised with dogs love to instigate these games. A cat will approach the dog, rub against the dog, flick her tail at the dogs nose and then run. The cat is asking the pup to chase her, and she loves to get the puppy in trouble for racing through the house after her. You remember the Garfield cartoons, don’t you? Garfield loved to get the dog in trouble! The game is especially fun when the cat jumps onto a high perch and the pup can’t follow her, and the pup instead jumps on the closest piece of furniture, leaping up and barking.

This game can be more than annoying to you. It causes a ruckus in the house as well as a mess. However, its also quite entertainingat least to the cat. Theres really no means of preventing this from happening, but you can prepare for it by putting your pup on a leash and keeping him close by. When he is teased by the cat, redirect him to a toy and play with him. He is merely looking for interaction, and your attention will fulfill that need. If he’s faster than you and has already responded to the cat, put your foot on the end of the leash and hold him there until you can redirect him onto something else. Meanwhile, spritz the cat with water to get her away from the puppy. Teaching your cat proper manners around the puppy would also be helpful, but that is another book altogether!

Reprinted from Training Your Puppy in 5 Minutes © 2004. Permission granted by Kennel Club Books, an imprint of BowTie Press.

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Behavior and Training