Why Do They: The Great Chase

It's a lovely evening on your patio. Suddenly, your canine companion dashes off like a chocoholic after homemade fudge, chasing the neighbor's cat.

What makes a normally sedate dog turn into a wild predator? Is it the way cats look? Or smell? Or act?

Breed Instincts

"Each breed is different," says Joy Johns, a breeder of Siberian Huskies. "Siberian Huskies are notorious for chasing cats and sometimes killing them because of their instinctive prey drive. To them, a running cat is prey. It's easier to prevent than correct this behavior later."

(Check out our Breed Selector to find the right breed of dog for your lifestyle.)

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Dogs and Cats Living Together

So how can you get a dog that chases cats to stop? Deb Raedecki, who owns a farm in southern Michigan with dogs and cats, says it's easier to teach dogs raised with cats not to chase them. "My dogs lick the cats on the head and don't chase them," Raedecki says. "They were raised that way."

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Stop The Hunt

  • Introduce the cat to the dog with the dog on a leash. (Read Tips for Leash Training Your Dog for more ideas on how to train your dog.)
  • Run your hands over the cat so it carries your scent.
  • Hold the cat while another person brings the dog by on a controlled leash.
  • Let the dog sniff the cat.
  • If the dog is friendly, reward with praise and treats. If the dog shows aggression, pull him away and say "No" firmly. Then try again.
  • Repeat this until the dog has appropriate reactions. Several sessions are usually required before you put the cat with the unleashed dog.

The article Behavior: Dog Discipline [links to article] may provide more helpful tips for controlling your dog.

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Consumer Care Service

If you have questions about your pet's behavior, email the IAMS Pet Care Team, or talk to one of our friendly team members directly by calling 1-800-675-3849.

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