Champ: Cat Reactivity Case Study- Dog Training Queens New York
Throughout my dog training career here in Queens, I have worked with dogs that live with other animals; commonly, there might be another dog or two, or even a cat in the household. Many dogs are not naturally aggressive towards cats…sometimes they just want to play and be friends! Cats and dogs do have very different personalities, and sometimes those personalities can clash. A dog may be super friendly and want to be close to the cat, but the cat might be aloof and want distance. Some cats may not want ANYTHING to do with the dog, and in some cases, vice versa.
However, some dogs have a very high prey drive, and it is important that it does not include their feline sibling. I have met dogs that will chase after a cat and they would never commit an aggressive act toward it. Still, the owner finds the chasing and/or barking after the cat completely inappropriate, and so we must correct this behavior for the sake of both the cat and the dog.
My last case of cat reactivity was with a young dog named Champ. A good boy without an aggressive bone in his body, Champ just wanted to be friends with his cat brother, Felix. However, the owner noticed that he was seeing less and less and Felix. This was because ANY time that Champ caught a glimpse of Felix, he would react immediately. He would chase after him, and at times would bark after Felix, especially after he would hide away from Champ. While Champ never harmed Felix, it was clear the cat was not happy and not enjoying his home life because of the dog. Also, Champ was always on the look out for Felix, and Champ was showing more signs of anxiety because of his reactivity and inability to be with Felix.
When Champ was enlisted in my Queens dog training program, we went back to some of the most fundamental aspects of training. Champ’s reactivity to Felix was caused by anxiety, lack of impulse control, and lack of consistent leadership from his owner. While Champ and Felix’s owner did his best, it was not enough to communicate to Champ that his behavior was wrong (and in the end, detrimental to himself!). It was crucial for the owner to be a solid leader and for Champ to then follow this leadership, which included basic commands, obedience, and following through when directed away from Felix. We had to drain Champ’s anxiety and excess energy in more productive forms; along with training, we also had a more active schedule for Champ, where he could exercise and calm himself more, rather than take it out on Felix.
Once Champ knew how to be relaxed and behaved, we then reintroduced him to Felix so that he could better succeed around his kitty brother. While it took some time for Felix to warm up (he IS a cat after all!), he learned to trust Champ more because Champ knew HOW to better act with Felix. Their owner was amazed by the progress in their relationship, and overall the newfound peace and harmony in the entire home!
Cats and dogs don’t have to be mortal enemies…but if you are having some canine and feline relationship issues, call us at 800-649-7297 to talk to us and schedule your initial in-home behavioral consultation!