Dear Daisy Dog
Harley, our 6-year-old Rottweiler-German shepherd mix, chases our new 9-month-old cat, Moo Man. How can we help them get along?
When we adopted Ollie, our Irish wolfhound, he chased our family’s cats. Although this sight hound breed is genetically programmed to chase anything that runs, Mom was able to control his natural instincts through training.
She and Ollie joined a dog obedience class, so he’d learn to obey even when distracted by other dogs and people. There she taught him to “leave it.”
She walked him on leash past tempting toys and food morsels, telling him to “leave it.” When he kept walking without pulling toward the enticements, she praised him.
At home, she walked him by the cats, telling him to “leave it.” When he obeyed, she praised him lavishly. When the cat ran and he didn’t follow, she rewarded him with a food treat.
Ollie is now quite reliable with cats. On those rare occasions when he starts after a cat, he turns back when Mom reminds him to “leave it.”
Mom also makes sure the cats have safe places to hide, so if Ollie does chase them, they can escape.
Now that he only rarely chases the cats, they don’t run from him. In fact, they sometimes initiate play. If Ollie gets too rambunctious, they bat him in the face -– extending their claws just enough to remind him to be gentle around cats.
Try these techniques as you teach Harley to leave Moo Man alone. If he doesn’t behave within a few weeks, contact a veterinary behaviorist for more assistance.