The tips below will help with cat harassment in the form of inappropriate play behavior. If your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior towards the cat, please contact me for more in-depth help. For play harassment, we will work on 3 things: (1)Associating the cat with Good Things, (2)paying attention to the guardian, (3)practicing calmness around the cat.
Teach your dog that “Cats = Good Stuff for Me”. When the cat saunters into the room, immediately start dropping high-value treats at your dog’s feet. Continue to drop treats until Kitty has either left or settled.
If your dog is clicker savvy, you can click when they see the cat enter the room. Your dog should recognize that a click means a treat and turn around in anticipation. Be sure to give a treat! Continue to click-treat every time your dog looks at the cat. You might need to work on step one for a week or more before progressing to step 2.
Once your dog associates the cat with Good Stuff and demonstrates noticeably calmer behavior, you can start to ask your dog to Look at you when Kitty is around. Then you can click-treat for attention on you. (Use your eye contact lesson from foundation-level training) Spend about a week on this step as well. You can still do step one exercises as well.
Now that emotional arousal is lower and your dog can pay attention when the cat is around, you can teach Relax on a Mat. Teach this behavior when the cat is not present. Then bring the mat out when you want your dog to practice calmness in the presence of the cat. Be sure to give lots of reinforcement for staying calmly on the mat when the cat is nearby. This step is something you’ll con
Don’t forget: Catch your dog being good! Be sure to praise or reinforce your dog with a treat if you notice that they’re being calm around your cat. Too often we only react to unwanted behavior. It’s important to catch our dogs being good.
For the opposite problem, where your cat is harassing your dog, I can refer you to a great Cat Behaviorist: goodkitty.us
This article appears courtesy of DOG TRAINING BY VALERIE, Valerie Balwanz, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, PMCT
Valerie Balwanz is a behaviorist who generously shares her expertise with the CAF to help new pet owners. Visit her website for more information about training, and behavioral issues, and to contact her.