Born to Chase Cats?
Posted by Holly Jarrett 02/01/15
Dogs and cats are natural enemies. Or are they? My dog Trudy would say that some of her best friends are cats. However, my other dog Marley would say his favorite dish is a cat. It’s not as though he has had a bad experience with a kitty. Unfortunately, he joined our family at 11 weeks with an obsession to seek out cats to chase already locked and loaded. Obviously, this chasing is not a good idea for all kinds of reasons, some pertaining to safety, but also the disruption of the peace within the family.
According to dog trainer Joan Orr, much of the animosity between cats and dogs can be traced back to their different manners of communication. For instance, a cat might approach a strange dog with its tail in an upright position. In dog language, this can be interpreted as a challenge. For the cat this is a friendly invitation to be friends. Rolling over onto its back, a dog indicates submissiveness or even playful behavior. A cat assumes this position in defense. Back to the tail, dogs wag their tails when happy. Cats wag their tails when perturbed.
So, how can Marley be convinced that cats are part of the family too? And even better, that this cat can become a lifelong friend? Of course, in a perfect world puppies (and kittens) from a very young age should be socialized with the other species. If however, this was not achieved, and as in the case of Marley, the dog arrives with the behavior already present, other approaches will have to be taken.
Joan suggests using reward to encourage tolerance and then acceptance. Any indication of tolerance by either cat or dog is rewarded immediately. Safety must always be considered, with the cat having a route of escape. Keeping the cat up out of reach and/or the dog in a crate initially is an excellent way to ensure that the training can progress without risk of injury to either party.
To regain that sense of wellbeing for all in the household is a very obtainable goal. Patience and persistence, matched with common sense, will be rewarded. Marley doesn’t know it yet, but soon he will lose his desire to chase our cat and gain a special friend.
Lil’ Buddies is the premier pet sitters and dog walkers in the Matthews and Charlotte region. We have experience with a wide variety of pets, and would love to get to know yours. Give Holly Jarrett a call @ (704) 779-7256.