Having both cats and dogs in your residence can foster a joyous environment.
However, since dogs tend to be overly barring towards cats, understanding how to stop this behavior can save you time and reduce stress in your household.
In this complete guide on how to stop dogs from being aggressive towards cats, we will cover the introduction of a dog and cat, how long the process takes, some training tips plus much more.
Character Of Dogs
First of all, you must understand the character of dogs as a species. True, dogs are individualistic, and each has its temperaments and set behavior, but some traits are recurrent throughout all dogs.
It is as clear as day that dogs are social and playful creatures. They play with one another and with other pets in their environment. That being said, it is sometimes difficult for us humans to distinguish their playfulness and aggressive behavior.
Besides, even when they are playful, the play may turn fatal, especially if the other pet is smaller in size, like say, a cat.
Consequently, when you want to introduce cats to a dog-oriented environment, it is paramount that you follow specific procedures to ensure that they have a cordial coexistence without any fuss or rivalry arising.
Introducing Your New Cat To Your Dog
As stated earlier, even though some traits are recurrent throughout a particular species of animals, every animal has a unique character and temperament.
It is, therefore, essential that you set realistic expectations for yourself and your pets when introducing them to one another.
When planning to introduce a new cat to a dog or vice versa, it is vital to consider the two pets, or groups of pets, as their own individuals, and take into account their character.
Once you’ve done this, there are a plethora of methods you can acquaint the two pets.
The cardinal rule to pet introduction is going through the process gradually. You need not be quick in the steps that are about to be outlined, lest both the cat and the dog develop hostile feelings towards each other, which is a recurrent counterproductive phenomenon.
1. Some Cats Are More Sociable Than Others
Some cats are more sociable and this can be attributed to their character or the way they have been brought up.
An older cat that is used to living in an area by itself will most likely be more aggressive than a newly born kitten because it hasn’t been accustomed to sharing territory.
The young kitten, depending on the grooming and the surroundings, can eventually be social and get along with other pets.
2. Dogs Also Have Traits Similar To Cats
They are extremely friendly to individuals or animals they are familiar with, but that friendliness can instantly turn into aggression fast when a new party comes into the fold.
Again, the level of socialness and aggression is heavily determined by two factors; genetics and how that particular dog has been brought up.
Remember, animals are in many ways similar to us humans. You don’t make a friend immediately after the first interaction. You will first start out as strangers, then, after several interactions, you become acquaintances.
Eventually, after you have known each other for some time, you become friends. This is akin to how pets, and animals in general, behave towards one another.
Power Of Smell
Animals have proliferated senses. The sense of smell is one of the most, if not the, strongest sense on both dogs and cats.
It is through smell that they are able to know when their territory is invaded and who did so. In the same way, we use sight to recognize one another, pets use smell to know their surroundings.
It is especially easy for them because every animal, humans included, has its own distinct scent. That is why your dog can know you are approaching before even seeing you.
You can and should use the sense of smell to introduce the pets to one another, even before they meet face-to-face. One of the easiest ways is to put your cat and your dog in adjacent rooms that share a door.
On either side, place the water and food containers for the respective pet. Initially, the containers should not be that close to one another, because, even though the door is a barrier, either pet may develop aggressive tendencies even before meeting its counterpart.
Over time, you may gradually move the containers closer together if your pets don’t exhibit any form of aggression.
You can even use a doorstop to open the door slightly so that the pets can see each other but are not in actual contact.
However, if you view either of the animals portraying any form of aggression, you should immediately start again.
This is also just a play on the pets’ keen sense of smell. First, you should ascertain that both the pets are living in different environments, like different rooms, or when one is outside the other is indoors.
Swap out the beddings that each of them uses with the other. This way, they will familiarize themselves with a particular scent, and when they eventually meet the other whose scent they have been around, they will not be aggressive towards it.
Alternatively, if your dog is aggressive toward cats, you can switch the animals themselves. For a certain period, let the cat reside in the dog’s habitat and vice versa. This also has the same effect.
Once you have ascertained that both pets know when the other is within the vicinity, you can let them meet face-to-face. The meeting should be a controlled one, with the dog on a leash.
Initially, you should just let them see one another, without any contact. Afterward, you can let your cat stroll around your dog.
It’s essential that you have dog treats. You want your dog to associate an encounter with the cat as something splendid and comfortable, so, whenever the dog shows any sign of aggression, and you restrain your dog and give a treat.
Even when your pup obeys the ‘sit’ and ‘down’ commands, treat them. This will foster a sense of calm and happiness in your dog.
After you have made sure that they are both comfortable in one another’s presence, you can let them bond physically.
You might not be able to tell the difference between playtime and aggression, and so you should keep a close eye on the two.
If, at any point in time, you sense any hostilities, nip the bud at its root and separate the two immediately. In the event of such an occurrence, you should restart the recognition process again.
How Long Does It Take For A Dog To Get Used To A Cat?
Depending on the pets themselves, the number of days to get acquainted with one another may vary from a couple to several months.
In most cases, it normally takes between two and three weeks for them to acknowledge each other’s presence.
Throughout the entire process, you should keep a close eye one each of the pets. Alternatively, if you are not able to supervise and train both pets adequately, the most reasonable option is to separate them for the long term.
When you are confident they harbor no ill will towards one another, you can have them meet again.
- How To Raise Two Puppies Successfully (What You Should Know)
- How To Stop A Dog From Chewing On Wood Trim (Complete Guide)
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Aggressive To Cats?
In some cases, a dog aggressive toward cats may not display the tell-tale signs. Dogs’ aggression towards cats is ambivalent and is sometimes difficult to identify.
For some dog owners, it is an onerous task to try and differentiate between overt aggression, a dog having high levels of energy, and playfulness. Also, dogs tend to have a higher prey drive as compared to cats, meaning that they could instantly see an animal it was initially friends with as an enemy.
All dogs have a prey drive, though it may differ from one breed of dog to another.
As stated, the line between playfulness, aggression, and prey drive is a pretty blurry one. Notwithstanding, it becomes easy to understand your dog’s temperament towards cats based on previous behavior.
If your dog has habits like snarling, excessiveness in their low-range barking, snapping, or growling, then you should probably consult a professional to ascertain your findings.
Another sign of a dog aggressive toward cats is when it stands tall with the ears erect, and carries a high tail, vacillating it stiffly from one side to the other.
Making direct eye contact with the cat and exposing their teeth while growling is also an overt sign of aggression.
Remember, the difference between the dog’s aggression towards your cat, its prey drive, and high energy is nuanced, and you might be required to consult a professional.
Why Is My Dog Aggressive Toward My Cat?
Is your dog aggressive towards cats, and you are wondering why that is the case? Different factors can be attributed to this behavior.
It may simply be because of the food from other resources, or even trying to assert territorial dominance. The main reason is that the dog may feel that it is in competition with the cat for your attention. Most of the time, this is true.
You may find yourself, inadvertently, slightly focusing your love and attention towards a specific pet.
Pets do have feelings, and once they feel that they aren’t being taken care of, or that their emotional demands aren’t being met, they take out their frustrations on the recipient of the said attention. Thus, the dog develops hostility to the cat.
Can My Dog Suddenly Become Aggressive Towards My Cat?
The answer is simply yes, your dog can be suddenly aggressive towards your cat. Dogs are, after all, predators by nature and at times, this predatory nature may come to the surface.
Even after you have been able to properly acquaint the dog and the cat, the aggression may pop up out the blue, but why is a dog aggressive toward cats?
1. Protecting Its Resources
One of the main reasons why a dog is aggressive toward cats is protecting its resources.
If your dog has a sudden outburst of aggression towards the cat, it may be because it feels like the cat is trying to invade into its personal space.
The cat could have been making a move towards the dog’s food or its sleeping area. Dogs are very possessive creatures, and even if the reason for contention is a bone, then the dog’s aggression may jump quickly.
Your dog might also be ill. The dog’s aggression towards the cat may be a tell-tale sign that the dog might be experiencing health issues. Once you notice hostility or aggression in the dog, and you haven’t been accustomed to it, you should take the dog to the vet immediately.
3. Assert Dominance
The other main reason for the aggression is that your dog might simply be trying to assert its dominance.
Yore dog might be trying to establish itself as the top-dog in the household, no pun intended. Simple actions like feeding the cat first might lead to the dog feeling like it’s at the bottom of the hierarchy, and this leads to sudden bursts of aggression.
How To Train A Dog Not To Chase Cats
When dogs chase cats, the result is often devastating. The worst-case scenario is the dog kills the cat, but this rarely happens if you have trained both pets well.
Most of the time, both the cat and the dog are simply looking to have a bit of fun, but this comes at the expense of your peace of mind.
You should, therefore, train your dog not to chase cats around. Here are some of the methods you could use.
1. Behavior Training Classes
The most appropriate route you should take is to leave the training to professionals. It is one of the most efficient methods you can use.
Behavior training classes are especially useful if you aren’t able to do the activity yourself, which is most often the case with people who have to go to work.
Even if you do have the time to do the training yourself, it is better if you leave it to trained experts to do it.
Such classes are available everywhere, but it is better off to look for the most qualified personal through testimonials and recommendations from people you trust. After all, you will be leaving the trainer with your pet.
2. Use A Shock Collar
A shock collar is one of the easiest ways you can train your dog not to chase cats around. Shock collars are especially useful if you can train the dog yourself.
The collar’s functionality is pretty simple. First, you strap the collar onto the dog’s neck. The next step is to determine the amount of stimulation required for your dog to notice it.
You do this by starting with the lowest possible value, and slowly working your way up. The most appropriate stimulation alerts the dog without causing any harm whatsoever.
Once you have been able to identify the stimulation required, all you have to do now is press a button on the collar’s remote control and your dog will stop chasing the cat.
3. Extracurricular Activities
Apart from obedience classes, take your dog to activities such as flyball and agility training. These activities are enjoyable.
Furthermore, they will tire your dog physically and mentally, leaving it too tired to chase your cat around.
4. Puzzle Toys
Provide your dog with interactive puzzle toys to play with when the cat is nearby. If your dog seems engaged in the toy and does not mind the cat, consider introducing the cat in the near future.
Dogs are often aggressive toward cats. The good news is that they can learn to get along with cats. Is your dog aggressive toward cats?
Try the tips mentioned above on how to stop a dog from being aggressive toward cats and displaying this undesirable behavior.
If you feel additional help is needed check out our number one recommendation Brain Training for Dogs. It offers complete training on how to teach your dog to listen to you, stop barking at neighbors, and other common problems.