Preventing Chasing The Cat

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by OllieTeddy, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. OllieTeddy Member


    my cocker spaniel Ollie is 3 years old and we have always had a cat. The cat however is very nervous and runs away when Ollie makes a noise, such as whining or barking and then Ollie chases the cat if there isn't a door between him and the cat. Basically, Ollie thinks that whining and barking makes the cat run, so then starts a great chase game. However, Ollie is not aggressive towards her, he just thinks its fun. He has met her before, and touched her and never opened his mouth or touched her with his teeth.

    I'm wondering whether to try using a clicker to create a new behaviour is ignoring the cat. However I'll need some help with this.

    1. Should I click and treat when he looks at the cat and is quiet, or when he's looking at me?
    2. If he whines, should i walk away from the cat into another room until he quietens?
    3. Should I start with a door between him and cat, and then progress to them being in the same room (Ollie on lead)? Should the cat be in a carrier or loose?
    4. How can I progress to him ignoring the cat walking through the same room when he's lying on the floor or sofa off lead and with no treats or clicker nearby?
    5. When the cat comes through the front door, Ollie barks and runs around the ground floor of the house. How do I stop him doing that? There will only be one person around, so Ollie will be on his own when the cat walks through the door.

  2. Anneke Honored Member

    I have no idea of how to do this... We have always had cats and dogs living together and have had little problems.
    Right now I have a 16 year old cat(have had him since he was 8 weeks old). Jinx does like to bother him. When Balou jumps of the sofa, Jinx immidiately gets up to chase him.
    I have tried to correct her behaviour, but she just LOVES to tease Balou.
    Balou has grown up with dogs and also plays with my dogs. He knows how to tell them he has had enough. So I just let them figure things out themselves. The only time I step in, is when Jinx has him cornered.
    But I do make sure that Balou has lots of ways to get out of my dogs reach. So he is allowed to jump up on chairs, the sofa back and arms, windowsills etc. In the kitchen he is allowed to be on the kitchentable(his food is on there, because the dogs eat it, if it is anywhere else:rolleyes:, and we don't use the table anyway.)

    1.I think I would click when my dog is calm in the presence of the cat. If he is looking at the cat, but not moving. If your dog knows the clicker well, he will look at you, when you click. Try to keep his attention and click and traet for that.
    2. At first I would click and treat for staying in his place when he sees the cat and ignore the whining. I think the whining will fade away, when he is more relaxed when the cat is around.
    3. You can start out with putting your cat in a crate and click and treat for calm behaviour. That might be easier for Ollie at first.
    4. When Ollie behaves the way you want, with the cat IN the crate, then put the lead on him and let your cat out. Put your foot on the lead, so he can't chase and just wait untill he settles down, then click and treat. Don't take off the lead untill he isn't showing any interest in the cat. That way you keep him from making a mistake. This can take a long time, because chasing the cat is very rewarding!!!
    5. I think this behaviour will fade with time, as he starts to understand, he is not supposed to chase the cat.

    This is how I think I would tackle it. Maybe someone else here has better idea's. Good luck!
  3. fickla Experienced Member

    1.- Either way works, but the Look At That game is certainly more popular right now. It also ends up with eye contact since he should look back at you after the click.

    2 &3- I think the key is to keep Ollie under threshold and where that line is depends on where you start. If you have fabulous treats, a clicker, and a leash on, does he care more about the treats or the cat from across the room, 15ft, 5ft, etc. I would prefer not to put the cat in a carrier since that could stress your cat out (unless your cat is used to being in the carrier). But if Ollie whines once and that automatically sends the cat off running than it will just be practicing the behavior you are trying to get rid of. So ideally staying below threshold where he won't whine would be great, but you might have to start in a place the cat feels safe enough where she won't need to flee. Maybe up high on a shelf or cat condo, or even in the carrier if that's whats needed.

    As for what to do when he whines, I think it would depend on how aroused he is. Ideally there would be little to no whining since you're starting at a point where he can be successfull. But if he does whine and isn't too far gone he should turn back to you very quickly. If that is not happening then I would leash walk him further away.

    4 &5- Your dog has 3yrs of practicing the chasing behavior. It is going to be VERY hard to change that behavior! I think management is going to be a very big part of your routine. You simply can not let Ollie chase the cat, ever, from the moment you start your new training plan until a new habit is formed. This may mean that you always have treats stashed in accessible places around the house, that Ollie is always on a long line, or that you give your cat a safe room that Ollie can not go in and only have them out together when you are training. Since cat chasing is so self rewarding you can't simply train your new behavior and ignore the other one like you could with other things.

    Here is a blog post by Patrica McConnell on working with a puppy she had on not chasing her cat.
    Of course a puppy with little experience of chasing goes faster than 3yrs of chasing.

    Good luck!!!
    tigerlily46514 and Jean like this.
  4. fickla Experienced Member

    Here is the link I was originally trying to find. It's Patrica McConnell again, this time with her older dog Will and his behavior of stalking the cat. Stalking is very different from chasing and is a very hard wired behavior so was very difficult to stop. She ended up asking for a sit and used extensive management of keeping them separate unless training (upstairs vs downstairs). So not the same issue but I thought her perseverance and progress might be interesting to read.

    Pt1, on finding the right behavior to ask for:

    Pt 2:
  5. tugidq64 Experienced Member

    O_oWe recently rescued a border collie/terrier that we are currently trying to
    have get along with my reactive lab mix. My question is having to do with my cats.
    The little dog seems very interested in them. She whines when she sees them. She would chase them if I let her. She only wants to see them to play I think. I was wondering if anyone
    has experience with a terrier being successful in living peacefully with cats.
    The dog is almost 4. She has no experience with cats but has lived in the mountains all her life
    and would disappear for a couple days at a time, probably chasing animals.
  6. charmedwolf Moderator

    tigerlily46514 likes this.

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