/ Monthly Care Tips

How Do I Stop My Dogs From Chasing My Cat?

Published February 15, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
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Although there are countless households with dogs and cats who can live in harmony, mixing the two species can sometimes cause discord and stress for everyone in the home — people included.

Many cats lack positive experiences with dogs and will automatically flee when a canine comes near them. Dogs, in turn, want to chase after cats who run away because they resemble prey. And although most dogs will stop the predatory sequence as soon as they reach the cat and will not attack, there are certain canines with high predatory aggression who can seriously injure or kill a feline.

In households with more than one dog, the chase can turn even more intense if several dogs are running after a cat, a situation that only heightens each canine’s excitement level. Even if there is no physical contact, the emotional stress on a cat who is living in constant fear can lower the feline’s quality of life.

When to Separate the Warring Factions

If there is a canine in your home with true predatory aggression, who has the ability to inflict bodily harm on your cat, you need to either separate the dog and cat completely from each other in different parts of the house or look at other solutions, such as re-homing one of your companions. Although this is far from the perfect solution, when the safety and emotional well-being of a cat is at risk, re-homing may be the kindest solution.

Create a Comfort Zone for Your Cat

Your feline’s stress level can be drastically reduced if you provide your kitty with a separate living area, such as a room with a high enough baby gate that keeps the dogs out but that the cat can jump over. Many cats will also relax if they have easy access to elevated areas, such as cat perches. Lastly, your cat should only be in the presence of the dogs when you are around to supervise their interactions.

Train Your Dogs First

You should designate one person in the home to train each dog. Start with one dog and desensitize him to your cat’s presence slowly by having him on a leash or in a head halter to limit access to the feline. Place the cat on the other side of a baby gate or inside a carrier, then stand with the canine at a good distance from the cat — about the length of a large room — and ask your pooch for a known command, such as sit. When your dog stays in the position, reward him with a treat. The ultimate goal is to teach him a different way of responding to the cat.

When you sense that your dog relaxes in the cat’s presence, as well as connects that the cat is linked to rewards or ignores the feline altogether, you can gradually add new variables to the training scenario. This can include bringing the carrier closer to the dog or letting the cat out from behind the baby gate.

If your dog tries to lunge for the cat, the leash or head halter will allow you to safely remove him for a training break before you repeat the process at a lower level of intensity. You should never punish your canine for reacting to the cat, because this only increases his arousal level.

Train Your Cat and Dogs Together

Once both dogs have shown that they can relax and show control around your cat, they can be trained together, starting with the cat on the other side of the room. Leashes or head harnesses can be slowly phased out once your dogs have proven that they will not chase after your cat. Start by letting their leads drag on the ground first before removing them completely, so you can still restrain your dogs if necessary.

Remember to always keep your cat’s safety in mind: Even with successful training, you should separate your dogs from the cat when you are not around to supervise.

~ Written by Mikkel Becker

Boredom Could Be Stressing Out Your Animal Companion

Published February 4, 2012 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips, What's New |
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Try this little experiment: Ask a four-year-old to lie very still in a room by himself for eight to ten hours, with no games, no books and most importantly no human interaction. Sure, he can look outside and watch other kids play – but he has to stay indoors.

When you return home, tell that child he can walk outside for 10 minutes, but then it’s back in for the night. Repeat this routine daily.

What a torment, you say? Of course it is. Yet this is often exactly what we ask of animal companions, causing them undue emotional stress in the process.

Pets on the Brink of Boredom

Believe it or not, one of the chief stressors for many homebound animals is idle time. If you want to mitigate the damaging effects of stress on your animal companion, take your dog or cat (I know, this is sometimes easier said than done with felines) for a 30-minute walk each day – or, at the very least, two 15-minute jaunts.

Our animal companions need and deserve exercise, stimulating interaction and a dose of fun each day, it is unimaginable of any fur parent who never engage his or her amazing animal in an interesting activity. Our animal companions end up being “pasture ornaments” because these animals look good on the landscape, but they rarely enjoy ample human interaction. They get playtime when their fur parent has the time and energy – and walks only happen when conditions are ideal.

In fact, many companions with behaviourial problems improve considerably when a regular aerobic exercise programme is part of their treatment. And it takes only a little activity each day to keep them happy.

How to Tackle Kitty and Canine Stress

The majority of feline overeating is linked to boredom and stress – they simply have nothing better to do than eat all day. When animals are stressed, they tend to overeat. And since they do not get enough exercise, they gain weight. All that extra fat secretes harmful hormones, which lead to added physiological stress. The cycle repeats itself until diseases like crippling osteoarthritis or deadly diabetes develops.

When it comes to cats, you need to tap into their natural predatory instinct to help break boredom. Felines are designed to stalk and pounce, leap and sprint. If you only have one cat, play “hide the food” by placing a small amount of chow in a few soy sauce bowls scattered throughout your home.

Many felines also love interactive toys, such as remote-controlled lasers and rotating chasers. Some enjoy chasing wadded-up pieces of newspaper. In fact, sometimes just leaving out an empty box for some hide-and-seek play is precisely what works for many stressed-out kitties.

Of course, nothing replaces the best toy in the world – you. Try to teach your cat to play fetch, use a food puzzle or follow a feather dancer to help relieve stress.

As for dogs, in addition to daily walks and play, aim to teach your canine new tricks and games, such as using a food puzzle.

Mystified as to why your pup does not want to play with the dozens of toys you have left out for him? The reality is that our animal companions can also get overwhelmed by too many choices, so rotate your dog’s toys daily to turn every day into a “new toy day.”

If you try these easy steps to enrich your animal companion’s environment, you will keep life lively for him – and stress at bay. It will change both of your lives for the better.