The hostility that dogs and cats share is almost eternal. Fighting like cats and dogs is a widespread phrase that describes rude argumentative behaviour. Most people consider this behaviour of cats and dogs as usual. It is assumed that there is no way you can stop a dog from chasing a cat away. But have you ever thought about why your otherwise obedient and loving dog tends to do this?
For the dogs, chasing is more like natural behaviour. Dogs are natural hunters. The cats and other small animals stoke hunting behaviour in them. This behaviour is even more apparent among the dogs that were used for herding and chasing. However, sometimes when a dog chases a cat, it may just want to play with it.
There are numerous examples where cats and dogs live in the same house without showing any aggressive behaviour towards one another. Especially the Pug dog breed, they have zero ambition to chase cats. Also, any dogs that have grown up with cats from an early age are known not to chase cats and even other cats outside.
That means you can stop this chasing behaviour of the dogs. It is essential for pet owners who have both cats and dogs at their homes.
A cat will perceive the chasing as predicted constant behaviour and will try to stay hidden as much as possible to feel safe. If not checked, this chasing behaviour can make your cat very uncomfortable.
This article will help you understand why dogs chase cats and stop them from doing that.
The Root of the Behavior
In the prehistoric age, dogs became a part of the domestic life of humans. Initially, Humans used dogs for helping in the herding and hunting activities, like the Chow Chow. Dogs are social pack animals that love to hunt together. When hunting alone, dogs tend to choose smaller animals as their prey. The ancestors of today’s dogs tend to select the smaller animals as they can successfully tackle them without any help.
That is why furry and small animals like cats can trigger that natural hunting drive in your dog. Their instincts kick in, and before you truly understand what is happening, your dog will be chasing after the cat.
Most of the time, you will find a dog chasing the cat while roaming outside or pulling on the lead and barking at them. Compared to the inside of a house, the natural environment of the outside matches with their hunting conditions. So when your dog meets the cat outside, chasing seems to be the right choice for them.
You will also find that cats are naturally skittish when they are around dogs. They tend to flap that tail up, raise their shackles and hiss at the dogs.
As we have mentioned earlier, instinctive behaviour does not always mean that dogs inherently dislike cats.
If you closely check your dog’s body language, you will find that most of them tend to wag their tail when meeting a cat. This wagging almost always means that a dog is glad to meet with the cat and would like to play. However, the feeling is not shared by the cat.
However, dogs also tend to chase small animals such as rabbits and squirrels as well. These animals also trigger the natural hunting instinct in them, leading to the chase.
Three Ways to Stop the Chasing Behavior among Dogs
There are a couple of methods that you can use to change this inherited behaviour of your pet dog.
It will be easier for you to give your dog such training if it is still a puppy. In this stage, you can easily make a dog understand that chasing cats is not acceptable behaviour. You can also socialise your puppy with other cats to reduce their instinctual drive.
#1 Control Their Attention
Check whether your cat is happy to stay inside a cat crate. If it is, put it inside the crate, and place your cat in a room where your dog cannot enter. Ensure to keep a couple of toys or treats inside the cat cage to keep your cat entertained during the training process.
After your cat settles down, you should bring your dog into the room. You will see that your puppy will take an interest in the cat almost instantly. It will get close to the crate and try to sniff around it. Your puppy will also try to bug your cat during this time.
If at anytime your cat is in too much distress, stop immediately.
Each time your dog approaches the crate, you should try to divert its attention. If your dog gives you their attention when you call, offer a small treat as a reward.
Slowly, you will have to command your dog’s attention each time it looks at the cat. You should call it, and when your dog comes to you, reward with treats. This practice will create an impression on your dog’s mind that they should not bother the cat. The continuous rewarding process will help them to associate leaving the cats alone with the rewards.
Analyse the situation and then release your cat. After doing so, continue with this practice. Give your dog rewards if they obey your command. If your dog does not give you the attention, you should formally tell them to stop and remove the cat from the room. Over time, your dog will understand that approaching the cat is not desirable behaviour and will stop chasing.
However, some dogs develop this chasing behaviour in later phases of their lives. In this case, you will have to create continued planning to stop this behaviour.
#2 Calling The Dog To You
If your dog starts to chase the cat outside, you should instantly call their attention. Leave whatever you are doing at that moment to make sure that your dog listens to you. It is essential because it will help you to stop the changing behaviour before it begins. Instant distraction is always a suitable method for establishing boundaries.
Whenever your dog notices a cat and starts to change its behaviour, you should repeat the above call method. If your dog is trained correctly, then you should use solid verbal instructions to draw its attention. You should use the verbal command in a disapproving way so that your dog understands that chasing a cat is not acceptable behaviour.
The sternness of your voice is enough to help your dog understand that it is not the correct behaviour to go after a cat. Having said that, if this method does not stop your dog from chasing a cat, you should take professional help to give better training.
#3 Use An Adjustable Lead
If you have a cat at your house, you should use a flexible lead to control your dog primarily. While training the dog, you should always keep treats handy. Each time your dog looks at the cat, you should call its attention and give it a treat if it responds. The lead will help your cat to roam around the house without any problems. It will also help you control your dog if it chooses not to listen to your command.
If you repeat this process repeatedly, your dog will first look at you whenever it faces a cat. You can let your dog roam freely inside of your house when it shows no interest in chasing your cat. Hopefully, you will find that your cat faces no problems while wandering around the house with your dog in such a situation, making training a lot easier.
Adpoting a Cat
Don’t let the changing behaviour of your dog stop you from adopting a cat. You can easily control the behaviour of your dog through good training. Also, the dog breed makes a significant difference in how your cat behaves. For example, some cat breeds tend to adjust to dogs very quickly if they are smaller and have a chilled personality.
Another essential factor that you need to consider is the first impression. Like us humans, when we meet for the first time, the first impression is also crucial for cats and dogs.
So while introducing your cat and dog to each other, you should not do it casually. Give a couple of trials before you try to present them. If necessary, you can consult other owners of both cats and dogs or canine experts to get advice. Once your pets get acquainted, your cat will let the dog know about its boundaries. It will help the dog to understand what are the lines that should or should be crossed.
You may think it’s almost impossible to create a peaceful domestic situation if your cat and dog do not get along with each other. Most of the cats come with an attitude, and they do not like to be chased around. Dogs, on the other hand, are social animals full of energy. They are also instinctively wired for chasing. In this situation, if you do not take the training seriously, both of your pets can create mayhem at your home, with many awkward meetings. Good luck, and I hope this helps you and your household.
About the Author
Teresa has been a pet lover since she was little. She currently lives with two dogs and two cats, and a hamster. Teresa is a qualified dog groomer and canine behaviourist; these days, she spends her time studying canine nutrition. Teresa is the founder of the Dog Friendly Scene and loves sharing her knowledge on pets.