Thursday, December 18, 2014

CATch Me If You Can

Are you at your wits end trying to get the dog to stop chasing the cat??   Here are a few training tips to help calm things down.

Get Down To Basics
Take time to teach basic obedience skills, a solid "Stay", "Come" and "Leave It" are important foundation skills.   Hurling commands at an over aroused untrained dog is pointless and frustrating for everyone involved.  Resist the temptation to punish your dog and invest time in training alternate behaviors.

Use Crates, Gates and Barriers
During the introductions and  training phase, use barriers to keep everyone separated and safe.  Try to avoid having your dogs first exposure to the cat be one of them in high pursuit as the cat is racing for cover.

Capture Calm Behavior
Set up situations that allow your dog and cat to be in a neutral state, this could be having the dog in a crate and the cat freely moving around.  Allow your dog time to adjust to seeing the cat moving calmly around the house, preferably on the opposite side of a barrier.   With everyone calm and safe start working on training exercises:

  • When your dog looks at the cat in a calm manner Click/Treat
  • When your dog looks at the cat, cue 'Leave It' , when they look away from the cat and look at you, Click/Treat (This will require a trained and well practiced  "Leave-It") 
  • Cue your dog to 'Stay' as the cat is moving around, start with a barrier between them
  • When you see your dog paying attention to the cat, cue them to 'Come' away from the cat and move towards you and Click/Treat, pet, praise, etc. 
  • Reward ALL calm behavior, absence of whining , barking, lunging
Work on Impulse Control
Use toys and distraction to practice impulse control.

Be Patient
Having your dog and cat coexist peacefully may take time, be patient and provide supervision and management.

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