Cats and dogs can be the best of buddies. But this is not always the case especially if your canine enjoys bullying your feline.
If you are a pet parent and are concerned about dog aggression towards cats, this article is for you. You are going to learn two things;
How to tell if a dog is aggressive towards cats
How to stop a dog from being aggressive towards cats
Why are dogs aggressive towards cats?
First of all, not all dogs like to bully cats. Some dogs, like the Maltese, are naturally inclined to co-exist with kids and other pets. Also, if you adopt a puppy and a kitten, they will grow to love and treat each other as equals.
Cats and dogs are not by default sworn enemies. But there are behavioral differences that cause a rift between them.
-Anna Burke, AKC.ORG-
There are several reasons why a dog will be aggressive towards a cat;
A dog has an instinct to hunt small things. A cat is small and fast which provides a chasing thrill for the dog.
A dog can show hostility towards a cat out of jealousy. This happens when a pet parent shows more love to a cat than the dog.
Dogs become hostile towards cats and other pets if the two are not properly introduced.
How can you tell if a dog is aggressive towards cats?
You should notice some early signs that hint your dog is developing an aggression towards your cat.
Your dog will start chasing your cat around for no reason. If this behavior is not checked, it can escalate to nipping and finally mauling.
Your dog starts to bite or nip at your cat during playtime. You must distinguish between play and aggression
Your dog moves away whenever the cat approaches. This may be accompanied by a faint snarl or warning bark.
Your dog no longer wants to share his toys. This one can escalate to a fight real quick.
Do not wait and assume that your canine will come around on his own. Aggression often escalates to dangerous behavior like biting or mauling. Furthermore, this negative behavior can affect your cat’s temperament as well.
Even the friendliest cat can become hostile when continuously provoked by an aggressive dog
-Charles Joseph, catcechkup.com-
So can you train a dog to like cats?
The answer is a definite yes. Obedience training can help train your dog to like your cat.
Obedience training will work if your dog sees you as the boss. If your dog seldom listens to you, find someone in your family whose authority they revere. Alternatively, hire a professional dog trainer to do the job.
One form of obedience training is teaching your dog the ‘Leave it’ command. Here is a step by step procedure on how to do that.
Have the dog on a leash. This helps you control his movement while teaching the command.
Have a bag of treats ready to reward for good behavior. This motivates the dog to listen to you more.
Find a toy they like to teach the command with. Place the toy next to the dog. When they start moving towards the toy, say the word ‘Leave it’ and use a treat to distract the dog’s attention.
When they come to the hand with the treat, they have passed the first test. Reward them with another treat. Repeat this process in one to two weeks.
Now bring the cat in the same room. If your dog starts advancing towards the feline, pull the leash gently and say the words leave it. When the dog turns to you, reward them with a treat for being obedient. Try the same command without the leash, if your dog obeys, reward them.
How else can you stop dog aggression towards cats?
Besides obedience training, you can still use other ways to teach your dog to like your cat. Two ways to do this include;
Establishing a safe space for both pets
Using positive reinforcement
Establishing a safe space for pets
Create a safe distance between the two pets until your dog becomes accustomed to the cat’s scent. Allow your dog to go in the rooms the cat was in. This helps the canine discover and accept the new scent of the cat.
Feed both pets separately. Feed your cat in a different room that the dog cannot access. The same applies when feeding the dog.
Invest in safety gates to keep the dog away from the cat. Cats tend to maneuver their way around barriers so a closed door may be more effective.
Using positive reinforcement
Do not use harsh words or actions to stop dog aggression towards cats. Scolding or hitting the dog never helps. Instead, establish authority and use the ‘leave it’ command to motivate your dog to leave the cat alone.
Video: Working with cat aggressive dog
Cats can get along with dogs. If your dog immediately or gradually grows aggressive towards cats, you can use obedience training to turn the habit around. Also, separating the two pets and using affirmative words can help restore harmony in the home.
Dogs with a strong hunting instinct are more likely to be hostile towards cats. Restraint measures like obedience training and separation can help maintain peace between the two pets. Dogs that are likely to be hostile towards cats include;
It can take two to three weeks for your dog to warm up to a cat. This is enough time to teach obedience training and get the dog used to the cat’s presence and scent. If aggression continues, you must employ the services of a professional dog trainer.
Let one person in the family teach obedience training to the dog. Desensitize your dog to your cat’s presence by using a leash, treats, and words of affirmation. Ensure the person doing the training has authority over the dog.