Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Some Breeds of Dogs View Cats as Potential Snacks.
These are technically known as “prey-driven” dogs, meaning that when a smaller animal takes off, they take off after it. It would be foolhardy to consider bringing a grown dog like that into a home that already has a cat. If you are a cat owner, you need to find out as much as you can about a dog’s attitude to cats before you bring such a dog home.
Dog breeders generally know whether this hunting aspect is true of their breed and will usually be honest about it. They don’t want an interspecies tragedy to happen. If you are adopting a dog, the shelter or breed-rescue may have information about the cat-friendliness of a dog whom you are considering for adoption.
You can consult the chart below to at least eliminate any dogs that are strongly prey-driven. However, keep in mind that just because a dog breed is not on this list doesn’t necessarily mean it is cat-friendly, either. Remember that every dog is an individual and may not fit any particular mold. Don’t assume anything—negative or positive—until the dog has been watched (on a leash) around a cat over a period of several days.
The breeds mentioned are just a sampling, and being on the list does not mean that these breeds are vicious or bad—they are just following an instinct to chase prey. Prey-driven dogs are basically hardwired to chase anything small that runs away from or past them—look at racing Greyhounds, who run like the blazes after a fast-moving mechanical rabbit. Some breeds also have the instinct to kill that prey if they do catch it. However, all dogs have a prey drive, it is just stronger in some breeds and some individuals. Most terriers were bred to chase and kill rodents, so any smaller animal is fair game for them. Many of the hunting breeds are also prey-driven, and those that have been bred specifically for fieldwork have it to an even higher degree—although there are many working field dogs that live lovingly with cats.
You can help determine whether your dog has a strong prey-drive by referring to the chart below: if your dog has more than one of these qualities, there’s a good chance she will go after a moving cat.
Signs of Prey-drive in a Dog
• Excited by moving objects
• Sniffs the air and/or ground frequently
• Stalks birds and small animals
• Shakes and “kills” toys or other objects
• Hunts or bites at your feet when you walk
Some Dogs Incompatible with Cats
 • Pit Bulls
• Weimaraners
• Most terriers
• Greyhounds
• Akitas
• Field hunting breeds
More Than Two Dogs Spells Trouble.
There is a terrible phenomenon that can happen with dogs and their behavior toward cats (and other prey) when there are more than two canines around: a bloodthirsty pack mentality can take over. Unfortunately, human beings are vulnerable to this, too: when people are in groups they will do horrific things that they would never even contemplate if they were on their own or with only one other person.
So nobody else suffers the horrible experience of jeopardizing your cats’ lives, it’s worth telling how my two dog-trusting cats were almost killed when I added a third dog to my canine family. I had previously had a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel with several household cats—there was peace on Earth—but when the Golden died, I went to Friends for Pets, the Golden Retriever rescue in Los Angeles. I wound up adopting my first Weimaraner, Lulu (because it was also the Weimaraner rescue) and even though I said I had cats they did not dissuade me from taking the dog. However, when I got Lulu home I didn’t like the expression with which she regarded the cats: licking her chops with narrowed eyes. The usually trusting cats were on guard. When I called the rescue to report this worrisome behavior, they did acknowledge that some Weimaraners were cat-chasers, and that I’d just have to see if this was true of Lulu.
Fortunately, with close supervision and obedience work, I got to the point where Lulu learned to ignore the cats and I felt the kitties were not in jeopardy. So then I got a second Weimaraner from Friends for Pets as a companion for Lulu. It turned out that Billy Blue did not pose a threat to the cats, because all he lived for was meals and he was not interested in food unless it was already cooked and in a can. The trouble started when I rescued a two-month-old Rottweiler puppy who had been thrown away on the roadside in a cardboard box. From the moment the Weimaraners accepted the new youngster into their pack, the older dogs began to harass the cats, chasing and cornering them. Within a week both cats had made emergency visits to the vet and two dear friends each gave a new home to one cat—who, by the way, have outlived two generations of dogs in my home.
The point is this: if you have three or more of a laid-back, non-prey driven breed, it’s probably not going to be an issue, but otherwise, either live a feline-free life or wait until you’re down to fewer than three dogs and then see what you want to do.
Put Your Cat’s Food and Water Up High on a Counter.
Some people always keep their kitty’s food up high so there is nothing you need to change when a dog arrives, but if it isn’t already there, then you need to move it up. Even the most cat-loving, respectful dog in the world cannot pass up that delicious, smelly cat food that goes down the hatch in two quick gulps. If you are going to change the location of the food and water, then do it a few days before the dog arrives so the cat gets used to where her things are before the dog walks in and she has everything else to adjust to.
  The Dog Has to Be on a Leash for the First Introduction.
If the dog is not restrained there’s a good chance the cat will bolt, the dog will chase, all hell will break loose and the future of their relationship will be grim. If the cat does take off at the sight of the dog, the dog’s natural instinct will be to chase. That’s why you have a leash on him. By the way, just because he chases does not mean he is necessarily “prey-driven,” which is something more intense than the general canine instinct to chase.
  Expect a Traumatized Cat When the Dog Is First Introduced.
If there has never been a dog in the household before, be prepared for your cat to freak out when you bring in the dog. The cat will probably hiss and spit, her hair will stand on end and she’ll take refuge in some unreachable spot. She may hide under a bed. She may even go on a hunger strike and not show up for meals, either. Being a cat, she’ll show up again when she’s good and ready.
  Have Some Treats in Your Pocket to Reward the Dog for Not Chasing.
Do not yell at your dog or use an angry, harsh tone to correct his natural impulse to chase. One of the first commands you’ll want to teach the dog is “Leave it.” Use the command at a time like this, then give him a treat for turning his attention to you and away from the cat.
  Don’t Worry about the Cat—She Can Take Care of Herself.
A cat with claws can go on the offensive and take a swipe at the dog’s face, but even a declawed cat can escape unscathed. A feline is rarely in serious jeopardy, because she can usually jump up onto something to get away from a dog or hide underneath furniture where the dog can’t reach her. However, there is still the possibility that this can be traumatic for the cat. You really don’t want to let the dog develop a chasing/hunting habit.
  Your Dog Might Get Scratched in the Face If He Doesn’t Step Back.
It shouldn’t take long for a dog of even average intelligence to learn that the “Flying Furball” can be dangerous and should be shown some respect. If your cat does have a face-to-face with the dog she will appear quite fearsome—she’ll arch her back, hiss and lash out with a clawed paw. Most dogs will back right off when a cat does her display. Puppies might not get the cat’s message if they are still too sweet and dumb, but a swipe of the paw across the nose will smarten them up real quick. However, if you have a grown dog who does not shrink from the cat’s display—who  shows no fear and wants to keep on coming—you may have a possible cat-killer on your hands. This might be a situation in which you want to bring in a professional dog trainer to evaluate the situation.
  Keep a Gentle Leader or a Short Leash on the Dog.
When the dog is loose in the house with you in the first few days, have him drag a short leash at all times so you can grab the leash or step on it should he decide to take off after the cat. A sharp verbal reprimand of “No!” as you step on the leash should get the idea across. If you prefer, you can keep a Gentle Leader on him with a hanging tab. With luck, any chasing behavior can be nipped in the bud.
  Don’t Leave Them Alone Together in the Beginning.

Do not leave the dog and cat loose and alone together in the house until you are certain that they have developed at least a grudging mutual respect and can fend for themselves. Dogs and cats can learn to share the same space in friendship or at least a truce, but the peace needs to be negotiated by you from the start. The cat can fend for herself, but what you can help with is setting boundaries for the dog and gently correcting him for any aggressive tendencies toward the cat or for encroaching on her territory.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

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