I would like to adopt an outdoor cat, but my herding dog is aggressive toward cats on our walks. I am not sure if he will get along with one as a family member. I don't want to bring an adopted cat into a hostile environment.

  • how old is your dog? a younger dog is easier to change the behaviour of then an old one. – trond hansen Dec 13 '17 at 6:54
  • Some dogs have an instinct to kill cats. You need to decide how aggressive the dog is. Even if it just want to chase the cat they are not going to be a good couple. – paparazzo Dec 16 '17 at 15:58
  • How often is your dog around cats? How often is your dog around other animals in general? (Please answer both) Do you have any other animals in the house? – Vince Emigh Sep 14 at 0:02

As far as I know, there is no other possibility to train your dog to accept cats than by having a cat. But some requirements should be fulfilled that it is less stressfull:

  1. Your dog obeys perfectly. You can handle him without a leash and are able to let him sit down, even if there is a cat.

  2. You have enough space to separate both at the beginning, possibly for some weeks.

  3. The cat should not be afraid of humans and especially not of you. Because there would be too much problems at once to handle.

  4. You should be honest with yourself and be able to stop the training if you see that there is too much stress for one of the animals and no progress.

If all that is fine, you can start:

  1. Take this cat to your house into a separate room. The cat should have food, drink and a litter box available and something to climb and hide. Even if the cat is an outdoor cat, you should keep the cat inside for at least some days, until she accepts your house as home.

  2. After one or two days start with the training. Let your dog sit and let the cat come out of the room. Let the dog watch the cat, but hinder him from hunting the cat. Stay calm, don't shout at the dog, even if he is growling. After a while start to keep your dog busy. Train some tricks he already knows, give him treats. Try to ignore the cat. Don't play movement games, it could stimulate your dog and frighten the cat. Play calm games. The dog will have problems to give you attention. That is normal. If he is doing good, or just a little bit better than at the beginning, praise him, give him treats. Than stop the training. Do so by let the dog sit down, go to the cat, take her and put her back into her room. Then let the dog walk freely wherever he wants to go. He will run to the door where the cat is behind and sniffing at the door. That is ok. Let him do that. If he starts to scratch, say "no" and call him. If he is sniffing fanatically stop him, too. After some minutes do something very active with your dog. Go on a long walk or play an active and rough game. Give him the chance to burn off energy. He will have produced much adrenaline, and he should be able to get rid of it. When you come back, he will probably start sniffing immediately. Stop him doing that, let him sit down and cuddle him.

  3. Retrain step 2 the next days. Be aware that the dog won't relax much the first days, even if the cat is at the other room. Try not to make a big deal out of it. Stay professional. If you get the attention of your dog more easily, increase the time the cat is in the same room as the dog. You can have multiple training sessions at one day, but don't overwhelm them.

  4. Start to interact with the cat in front of the dog. The best is, if there are at least two humans. One is playing with the cat, another one with the dog. Don't play movement games with the cat, it would animate the dog to hunt. Start with cuddling the cat.

  5. Don't force the cat and the dog being very close together or sniffing at each other. At first hinder them to get closer than one or two meters. When the dog is able to relax and nearly ignores the cat being in the same room, you can let them come closer. If the dog has a favorite place, always hinder the cat from going there and never let the cat eating the dog food. You don't want the dog being jealous. But don't allow it the other way round either.

Be prepared that it is a long way. You have to find a solution for the time when the cat is ready to get outside, but the dog doesn't like the cat, yet. Avoid every fight between them. Rather it takes longer as it could, than forcing a step and destroy every progress they made so far.

  • 1
    Also make sure that there are plenty of places where the cat can go but the dog can't. Cat trees are perfect for this, but windows, tables, and tops of sofas help too. Ideally, the cat would be able to go from litter box, to food, to favourite sleeping places without having to touch the floor. This isn't always practical, but you can aim for this by adding cat trees and temporarily moving some furniture around. – mhwombat Dec 16 '17 at 18:37
  • "Even if the cat is an outdoor cat, you should keep the cat inside for at least some days, until she accepts your house as home." - Can you confirm this wouldn't create counter-productive problems, such as possibly conditioning the act of being forced inside to the dog being present? – Vince Emigh Sep 14 at 0:06
  • @VinceEmigh yeah, this can create counter-productive problems, but if you let an outdoor cat outside from the first day on, the cat will run away and looking for its old home. They can run back for miles and even if it does not find the old home, it is very possible, that the cat will start to stray and looking for a good/new home on its own. The cat does not know that you bought it and that it has to stay with you. It has to learn it. That takes a few days, where you should try to seperate cat and dog and make your home comfortable for the cat. – Haras Brummi Sep 14 at 14:58
  • "Outdoor cat" doesn't mean "had a home previously". I've had outdoor cats which were born on the street, and have encountered the problem mentioned in the question. There are also owners who willingly let their cats outside. If "The cat may run to it's previous home" isn't a factor, how would "Keep them inside" be beneficial? I'm not saying you're wrong - I'm genuinely curious. I don't know what's the proper way to handle this, although there seems to be quite a few conflicts with what you suggested. – Vince Emigh Sep 15 at 0:28

probably your dog never seen you holding and treating a cat with a nice attitude , i had a dog in the past years who had the same attitude when i adopt him at first time , after many times he saw me holding my cat and petting him over and over and keeping a distance between them , my dog start consider it as a member of our pack !

same thing with my cat when he saw me petting the dog he start feeling safe toward him ,
(note : always keep a distance and im not saying this method going to work with your dog 100%) dont trust him with your cat , im just telling you my experiment that it may be helpful to you ,

this things need along of monitoring and attendance for couple months before you can let them with each other alone .

and in the end this depend on your dog aggression level
i'm not an animal expert but that was just my experiment i hope this is helpful for you , and sorry for my english , hava a good day :)

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