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I have witnessed my neighbor's Golden Retriever misbehave with their Persian Cat. He puts the cat's tail in his mouth like a toy, removes much of the cat's hair with his mouth; essentially, he dominates the cat. The dog is only a puppy, maybe a few months old; the cat is maybe a year older. Cat is not declawed but very peaceful but dog is naughty and full of energy.

How can my neighbor train his dog so it behaves appropriately with a cat?

Are there other preventative methods he can employ?

  • 4
    First of all the cat needs a climbingtree(s) and high-up platforms of safety from the dog. Everything else comes after this. – Esa Paulasto Dec 12 '13 at 15:48
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    To clarify the question, is the cat somehow disabled? I am asking this because my experience tells me that a cat is normally able to tell dogs how not to behave. – Ingo Dec 18 '13 at 16:14
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    Let the cat train the dog by itself. Give the cat someplace it can go out of the dog's reach. When the dog plays with the cat, if the cat doesn't want such things, it will retreat (or bat at the dog with its paws), either behavior conditionally behaves the dog how to interact with the cat "appropriately" (according to the cat). Plus, a high spot solves other cat behavioral issues, cats almost "need" to be up high to "survey" their "kingdom". A long and high shelf with a climbing tree will work wonders for a cat's behavior. – rlb.usa Dec 18 '13 at 17:36
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    Remember that because this isn't the dog trying to literally kill and eat the cat, this isn't a crisis situation. The dog is a pup, still learning, and these are "play" behaviors, not "kill and eat" behaviors. – rlb.usa Dec 18 '13 at 17:38
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    @rlb.usa I know its a play behaviour but need control too. – Ankit Sharma Dec 18 '13 at 18:00
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+25

I'm not a professional trainer, but training is what I would do if faced with such a condition:

  1. Take the cat into my lap while the dog is watching and caress him (the cat) to make it clear to my dog: he's one of us.

  2. Opposite direction: when the dog bites the cat's tail, yell at him to stop. If he repeats it many times, say "bad dog" and ignore him for few hours.

Eventually, even the most stubborn (or stupid :) ) of dogs will take the hint and leave the cat alone.

  • 1
    This is certainly good advise, yet I just don't get why the cat can't defend itself? Is it somehow disabled? Normally, while usually being smaller, cats can and will very explicitly tell their mates what they don't want. – Ingo Dec 18 '13 at 16:13
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    @Ingo not really relevant; like human childs, sometimes the younger will let his brother "bully" him thinking that's how things should be. It's a training for the cat too in such a case. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Dec 18 '13 at 16:15
  • I have my doubts here, especially as OP said it is his neighbours cat and dog. To me it sounds like someone tries to solve a "problem" that exists only in imagination. – Ingo Dec 18 '13 at 16:28
  • I believe this is horrible advice. #1 will only instil more jealousy and #2, when the dog is interacting with the cat, he is "in the zone" and not paying attention to you. Yelling will only frustrate the owner (as the dog isn't paying attention to the owner)(this is like yelling at a dog who is in a dog fight, the dog is in the "zone" and can't hear you) and wears out the owner's voice. Ignoring the dog means leaving the dog to alone to continue the bad behavior! – rlb.usa Dec 18 '13 at 17:32
  • @ingo not in imagination at all. I am very close to neighbour and they discussed this matter with me too. – Ankit Sharma Dec 18 '13 at 18:02
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First of all: Get yourself in a relaxed, but assertive mood.

Now get together with the dog and the cat. The dog now shall always be calm and unexcited. As soon as he starts to play with the cat, make a sharp "shhhht!" (or any other sound you want, but it should be a disapproval sound). If the dog doesn't react, use your hand and imitate a little bite into the side of the dog's neck (not hurting!, but the dog should feel it). This is how a mother emends her children dogs or how dogs emend each other in a pack.

The dog shall remain calm and quiet. Deny all unwanted behaviour as soon as it starts by the method described above.

Wait until the dog gets quiet. He will then sit or lay down and not be focused to the cat.

This may need a couple of minutes. Keep patient and attentive. Don't try to calm down or to complement the dog at any time when he is not showing the behaviour you want him to have. Instead, use the sharp sound and/or the hand.

Repeat this training for a subsequent couple of days.

Side note: Don't worry about the "bite" in the neck. I am absolutely against hurting a dog (or any other animal) in order to command him. But this is a natural way amongst dogs to show him, that a certain behaviour is not wanted in a pack.

  • We love your Ceeeesar ;) – Cedric H. Feb 26 '14 at 8:43
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I have a similar experience with my 2 cats and my young puppy (male).

My older cat (female - lived outside for a couple of years before she "moved in" with us) will just naturally set the rules: when the dog is chasing her she sometimes just run to a safe place (higher position, cat tree, upstairs where the dog is not allowed), but most frequently she faces him and hisses and shows him she would be ready for a fight. Then the dog will stop and stay away, unsure of what to do. Usually that really confuses him and he barks a couple of time.

So that would be perfect, if my other cat was doing the same ...

The other cat is a two-years-old Maine Coon (male, neutered). The dog really wants to play, as he would do with other dogs, but of course the cat doesn't get the idea. So he will bite, not the skin but the fur. Of course now his weight is twice the weight of the cat so it can get quite rough.

Of course this is not happening all the time, when the dog is calm he can stay next to the cats with no problem. It just happens when he's overexcited or when the cat is running (prey mode).

With this, it is still a work in progress but I've seen improvements:

  • The cats have a "high place" in every room so they can retreat there in case they are chased or in case they just want to rest;
  • as always the key is to teach the dog how you want him to react (alternative behaviour). When I catches him I separate them and without talking (that would increase the excitement level) I catches his attention and ask him to sit. When he does I strongly praise him or reward him with food. We wait for the cat to calmly move away and the dog has to relax during that time, again praise and/or food. The goal is to reinforce another behaviour and reinforce being calming down after playing with the cat (the goal is not to prevent any interaction);
  • you can go "Cesar's way" here and try to mimic a bite on his neck, however this "bite" in a way or another is a punishment and it is not teaching much to the dog. If the dog is bitting the cat it is not even sure that he will open his mouth when you "bite" him, so you would need to "bite" harder and so on ... Separating them is a kind of "emergency" action: I would do the same if the dog or cat was about to have a real accident or get hurt in any situation. It is not part of the training. When it is safe then you move on to reinforce the desired behaviour.
  • I also reward the doing staying calm when the cat is passing by or running to another room. The goal is to reinforce staying calm when the cat is moving;
  • We should not forget that it is a puppy and chasing things and playing with mates is totally normal. So from his point of view he's just doing the right thing all the time.

I don't deny it can be quite frustrating.

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