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Dogs and Cats —

Entries Tagged 'Dogs and Cats' ↓

Dogs and Cats

Q: Hi Julie:

Sounds like you’ve given lots of great advice. I am definitely going to try the techniques you gave the foster mom regarding jumping on visitors; mine do that too.
My question is in regards to the interaction between my dogs and my cats. The dogs are not at the point where they interact freely with the cats without supervision. I’m not sure if that has been a mistake on my part, but I keep them separate a lot because of the type of interactions they have had in the past. They are, however, pretty good with them when they are one on one with the cats. My lab/bc mix mostly just wants to figure out where the cats’ food is, and he basically ignores them. The lab wants to play with them. She will lick their faces (much to their surprise) and bounce around them (which puts them off), but will lie on the bed next to them when she is calm.

My problem is when the two dogs are together. Then it becomes a free for all, let’s chase the cats, and put everyone in to a tizzy kind of scene. The lab’s bounciness usually starts it, then the lab/bc gets all hyped up and will paw at the cat until he runs, and then the chase is on. There have been a few times when the lab/bc has gotten overly aggressive and I was worried that he might try to hurt the cat. He is not like that when he is alone with either of the cats. I have a feeling that the “pack” mentality and “prey drive” might be at play here, but I am not sure how to go about getting the dogs to interact positively with the cats when they are together. I would love to see the four of them all getting along and curled up together somewhere. Hope its not just wishful thinking!

The dog’s around 2 to 3 years old, while the cats are 6 and 10 years old. The 10-year-old I have had since he was a kitten, the 6 year old is a relatively new adoptee. I was told though that he had lived with other cats and a dog.


The lab/bc I have had since he was a 4-month-old pup, while the lab I got about a year and a half ago. All but the 6-year-old Maine Coon are rescues.

Julie’s Answer
Subject: Dogs and Cats.

Oh that’s great you found the techniques from my previous post on learning a proper greeting helpful! Teaching dogs and cats to live harmoniously is something I’ve worked with lots of clients with great results. It’s good that you have observed closely what happens just before the “frenzy” because knowing that will help you resolve it.

I would suggest that you work with one dog at a time with leash and collar and practice sit, down, stay, etc. near the cats. The idea here is that your dog learns some calm control while being near the cats.


It sounds like you have one dog that may be the instigator so work with that dog even more. What you’ll be doing is providing “memory control” to the dogs for what your expectations are of them. If, for example, you have practiced good obedience near the cats for a couple weeks while on leash and then one day they are off-leash they will have that memory of you being the leader and teaching them control so that your guidance will have more of an impact on them in the moment they need it.

After practicing separately, or together if you have more than one person to help you, you can begin to let them in the room at the same time as the cats. It may be easier to keep the instigator on leash initially so you have some control. The key here is to catch them BEFORE they chase. Observe closely and if you notice the dogs staring at the cats and not taking their eyes off of them, it’s time to do some more obedience to take their focus off the cats. They are allowed to look at the cat, but should be looking away and not fixating on them. There is a process that begins when dogs chase cats and the first part is the fixation, and then comes the chase or attack. If you stop the process and don’t allow the fixation, you’ll stop the attack. Plus, the obedience will help your word have meaning when you ask them to change their focus. If your dog is starting to fixate, call them to you, and ask for a “down stay” with their backs to the cats until you notice they relax and are not fixated. You may have to do this over and over initially but if you are consistent with good timing, your dogs will get the message that you as their leader are not going to allow it anymore.




What also happens when you practice this obedience near the cats is the dogs become more relaxed around them and will not be sending threatening signals to your cats so you’ll find your cats relax more as well which also makes your dogs relax! See how it works? Through your expectations you decide what to allow. Make it very clear to your dogs from today on that it’s unacceptable behavior and they won’t be allowed to do it anymore. This is why I suggest using leashes initially to have good timing and consistency. If you allow them to get away with the fixation and then the chase one time out of 10, you’ll ruin all nine other times you practiced hard. So be VERY consistent, practice daily and soon this problem will be a thing of the past!

Again, as with all of these techniques, you’ll need to be sure your dog is exercised and worn out before you begin trying to change this behavior. If your dog has stored up energy waiting to be released when you practice this, you’ll likely be unsuccessful. It would also not be fair to your dog. Remember, a tired dog is good dog!


I hope this helps you soon have a harmonious life with all your sweet furry friends! Your cats will thank you too!

P.S. Thanks for being such a great animal rescuer!