Does Your Dog Chase Cats? (Here’s How To Help)

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Does Your Dog Chase Cats?

When your dog chases your cat, it’s following a very deeply ingrained instinct. For some breeds, this instinct is harder to break than in others. Herding and hound breeds are especially tricky since their “job” is to seek out and engage with prey items or livestock.

But as is often the case with most pet behaviors, what constitutes crossing the line all boils down to knowing your pets and their signals and acting quickly to curtail the bad manners.

Disclaimer

Some dogs have a very strong prey drive. If your dog chases your cat, always consult with a licensed dog trainer / certified behaviorist and supervise your dog and cat when they are together.

Play Chase Is Dangerous – Always Stop Your Dog From Chasing Your Cat

Even if it seems harmless, chase should never be encouraged. Once your dog starts chasing your cat, things can quickly get out of hand.

For one thing, your dog might not know its own strength, and upon grabbing hold of your cat, could inflict severe damage.

Similarly, some dogs have trouble distinguishing between another playful toy and a living creature, seeing your cat the same way it sees its favorite stuffed chew.

Not to mention, chase puts your dog at risk, too. Cats are nature’s apex predator, and they have the teeth, agility, and claws to prove it. Your dog might be bigger, but on the receiving end of a swipe, your pup could lose an eye or worse.

3 cats on a green picket fence with a dog looking up at them

How to Discourage Chase Behavior

As is the case with almost any unwanted behavior, you can usually train your dog out of its compulsion to chase. But that’s easier said than done.

To stop your dog from chasing your cat, you’ll need patience, persistence, and a plan.

Here are some helpful considerations to help limit your dog’s likelihood to chase other, smaller house pets.

Pre-Adoption Meeting

Before you bring any new pet into your home, it is incredibly important that your existing pets meet their potential new brother or sister on neutral ground.

Most adoption centers will allow you to bring your dog or cat to the shelter, to make sure there’s good chemistry.

It also gives a chance for the animals to exchange introductions in a territory that, in their mind, does not belong to either one of them.

In the event you can’t bring your current cat or dog to a shelter for introductions, consider a temporary foster option to test the waters.

But in either circumstance, be sure to keep a watchful eye on the animals’ posture, body language, vocal cues, and other signs things are on the verge of getting chaotic.

Slow Introductions

First impressions mean everything in the animal kingdom. This rule applies everywhere, including in your home. Don’t assume because your docile doggo is usually a couch potato that it won’t suddenly become an excitable zoom machine when a new furry friend joins the family.

Take things slow. Place your cat in a confined space such as a bathroom or laundry room for a few days, so that both animals can become acquainted with each other’s scents.

From there, gradually introduce cat and dog in an open space where your cat can easily escape, if it feels threatened.

If the meeting goes south, start the whole process over again.

Quality Commands

When your dog meets its feline family member for the first time, encourage a positive atmosphere with soothing speech and lots of treats. You want both animals to feel rewarded and at ease, as this will help them associate their coexistence with good things.

Additionally, you should take the time to train your dog to rapidly respond to commands like “leave it”, in the event they decide to instigate a chase.

If you’ve trained your dog well enough in advance, they’ll treat the cat the same way they would any other item, letting it alone upon your command.

Make sure your dog is well trained before bringing a new cat into the home. If you’ve got a cat already, ensure the dog you’re adopting is easily malleable, before bringing them into your cat’s kingdom (aka your house).

Redirection

Sometimes the desire to chase is just too strong, and even the best trained dogs have a hard time shaking their instinct.

In this case, a possible solution is to redirect your dog’s attention away from the cat.

Find a toy it absolutely loves, and then save that toy as an option of last resort. When your dog gives chase, quickly whip out your secret weapon toy as a way to try and shift your dog’s focus.

Exercise

For almost any negative puppy behavior, exercising your pet will work as a fantastic temporary solution.

A well-exercised dog is less likely to become interested in a curious cat, as its lower energy levels keep it more preoccupied with resting, eating, or snoozing.

Consider wearing out your pup with activities such as fetch, tug, sniff games, and other games that are both mentally and physically stimulating.

Also, games that can stimulate the mind is also a great way to tire out your dog, such as the Outward Hound Hide n’ Slide Dog Puzzle.

The key is to work out all of that crazy puppy energy before bringing your pets together for the evening.

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Here is a fun toy that you can play with your pup to help get some of that energy out of his system.

What If Your Dog Keeps Chasing Your Cat?

Sometimes, none of these options will work. That’s just reality. But this doesn’t mean your dog and cat can’t coexist.

What it does mean is that you will have to remain extra vigilant in your supervision. If your dog signals a desire to chase – or has chased – your cat in the past, never leave the two in the same room unsupervised. It only takes a few seconds for the worst-case scenario to become a worst-case reality.

Realistically speaking, though, you can’t helicopter parent your pets all the time. That’s why it’s just as important to make sure your cat has a safe space to hide, where Rover can’t reach, in the event a chase ensues when you’re not looking.

This safe haven could be as simple as a spot underneath a piece of furniture, inside of a cat tower, on top of a bookcase, or other areas relatively inaccessible to your dog.

The key is to give your cat access to a calm, private environment, in the event your dog caves to the urge to chase.

Vigilance is Key

Don’t become discouraged if your dog and cat don’t immediately get along.

Also don’t worry if your dog is extra curious about the new purring mystery animal suddenly laying in its bed.

Dogs chasing cats might not be anything new, but it will always be cause for concern. It is important that you, as a good owner, remain vigilant about suppressing this behavior or intervening, when necessary.

All that said, don’t stress. Living with both cats and dogs can be rewarding and is typically a peaceful existence.

You should allow your dog and cat to examine each other, but always be at the ready to separate them, if either animal gives off an indication that they might escalate things.

Chances are, if you introduce your pets properly and stick to a training regimen for your dog – things will go fine.

Just remember that pets are still animals, and in that way, they can be unpredictable.

Be sure to keep a close eye on both kitten and pup, and with time, you’ll reap the comfort and benefits of a multi-animal, multi-special household.

Does Your Dog Chase Cats? (Here’s How To Help)

FAQ’s

Can A Dog Kill A Cat When Chasing It?

Absolutely! Going back to their ancestral roots, dogs are predators looking for their next meal. Also, dogs can be very protective of their humans and they may look at your cat as a threat. And then there is the good ole’ instinctual chase, which most dogs love. Either way, dogs can and do kill cats, which is why it is so very important that the precautions and steps listed out in this article be followed carefully in order to help keep both your dog and cat safe.

Can Any Dog Be Taught Not To Chase Cats?

Unfortunately, not always. You can do everything right, follow all the training guidelines, and still not be successful in teaching your dog not to chase cats. If the typical training techniques fail you will definitely want to consult a licensed trainer for assistance.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Get Used To A Dog?

Typically, it can take a couple of weeks to a few months, but this will depend on many factors, such as both the cat and dog’s personalities, the dog’s training, proper introduction, and many other things.

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