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I recently got a 18 week Alaskan Klee Kai who is currently 10 lbs. I brought it home with a six year old cat who is also 10 lbs.

The puppy really loves to play with the cat but the problem is he plays like a puppy would. He gets really physical. He tackles, bites, and worst case will grab the cat and drag him across the floor.

The cat fights back but he's been declawed. Everything he does, the puppy just interprets as play. This gets him even more riled up and he gets more physical. The cat is stubborn and tries to stand his ground but gets overpowered.

I break them up every time it starts. I lock the puppy in his kennel until he's calmed down. But now the puppy just waits until I'm not near the cat and rushes in when he sees an opportunity.

Currently the cat doesn't seem to be hurt by this and is just really annoyed. I'm afraid that will change as the dog gets older. I don't want the cat to be afraid to wander the house, and I don't want to have to keep the dog on a leash in the house or locked in his play pen.

How can I discourage this behavior?

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I suggest training him to play calmer with the cat instead of not playing with the cat at all. Puppies are just like children, they love the forbidden and they are intelligent enough to know when their parents aren't near to catch them.

So instead of locking your puppy in the kennel, I suggest holding him by the collar and making him calm down, either by making him lay down or by physically turning him around so his rear faces the cat and he must look away from the cat. That way he hopefully learns to tolerate the presence of the cat without having to play right now NOW NOW!!!

As you noted yourself, he's a clever guy and misbehaves whenever you're not around, so please keep him close and supervise him as long as he hasn't learned to play less rough.

Another approach would be teaching him commands like "leave it" and "stay", where he has to control his own desire and wait for a reward. This is called "impulse control" and is a great tool to help a puppy grow into a calm and even-tempered dog. By developing his impulse control he should become better at not playing as rough as he does now.

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  • This seems to be working. He still has incidents but he's getting less aggressive. Sometimes not even acknowledging the cat. – DeeV May 17 at 14:05
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Laying a puppy on their side and rubbing their belly facing away from you and saying settle and saying good settle when the puppy actually lays calm is a good technique at teaching a puppy to settle on command. It’s positive training. It takes time but kennel punishment is never used because that is supposed to be their safe space not time out.

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Try and put a gate, or something that can separate them. Chances are that it might enable them to bond with each other, because that would provide them a harmless and safe way to interact.

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