February 8, 2022 TVAH

Dealing with Your Dog’s Aggression Toward Cats

We’ve all heard the phrase, “fight like cats and dogs.” But you’ve probably known plenty of people who keep both cats and dogs together peacefully. Some even become the best of friends! So if you’re a dog owner wondering whether you can add a pet cat to your household, your first question might revolve around whether your dog will act aggressively.

You might have the impression that some dog breeds tend to be more aggressive toward cats than others, but even the dog’s breed won’t always accurately predict their response. We’ve heard of previously gentle dogs going absolutely wild to chase a cat, and some ferocious-appearing bulldogs who can’t stop cuddling the family’s new kitten!

Have you ever observed your dog around cats, such as when encountering one on a walk? If not, it might be wise to inquire with your local shelter about setting up a meeting in a safe way. Shelters typically prefer to adopt cats out to homes where they will be safe, and will be happy to help you test your dog’s response.

While keeping the cat safely separated, look for the following behaviors in your dog:

  • Ears pinned back
  • “Attack stance”
  • Baring teeth
  • Growling or snarling
  • Warning barks
  • Tail tucked in a tense position
  • Glaring at the cat

If you have reason to believe your dog might become aggressive toward a new family pet, you should definitely hold off on bringing one home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must give up on ever getting a cat. In some cases, a good dog trainer can help your dog to accept a new feline companion. Let’s discuss the issue in more detail at your dog’s next checkup. We can help you decide how to proceed in a way that is safe for both your dog and the prospective new family member.

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