Hello - I adopted a new dog about three weeks ago. I already had a resident dog and two cats in the house when I adopted the new dog. The cats and the resident dog get along great and with no problem. However, I am having a little trouble getting the new dog to behave appropriately around the cats and not bother them.
I have been trying to train the newly adopted dog to leave the cats alone by rewarding him with treats for being calm around the cats and by teaching him the "leave it" command. However, he is a highly excitable dog who thinks everything is a game.
If the cats are doing their thing and get his attention, he will chase after them (one cat more than the other). If the cats are in a hiding place he can't get them, he will stay nearby and start growling, barking, and air-snapping (I'm no expert, but it seems like it is all in a playful way).
The cats have been giving their signals to tell the dog to stay away (growling, hissing, swiping at him, etc.) - but he doesn't listen. One cat even landed a pretty good swipe to his head. He was a little wary for a day or two, but is still not deterred from bothering the cats.
I have blocked off an area for the cats where they can go and the dog cannot. However, the cats like to be around people and want to sit near me. I don't know if the dog gets jealous because when he sees the cats getting close to me, he starts his air-snapping and "talking" toward the cats.
If I see it looks like he's going to go after the cats, I try to distract him before anything starts. However, if I can't stop him and he doesn't listen to me telling him to "leave it", I have tried the time-out method, putting him on a leash, and trying to distract him with something else to take his attention away from the cats. Usually putting him on a leash results in him chewing the leash and trying to play tug. He will also start his barking and air-snapping toward me when I move to get him away from the cats (again, he thinks everything is a game).
Any advice on how to better train the new dog to leave the cats alone (and make the concept stick) is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance for any insights!
I highly recommend reaching out to a local dog trainer who typically does one-on-one home visits for training; with the COVID19 situation we're seeing right now, they may not be able to do a home visit but hopefully they have a creative solution for now so they can still work with you.
Otherwise, I think the resources I shared on this thread are also applicable here: https://maddiespetforum.org/thread/getting-cats-comfortable-with-dogs/
One thing to note with those resources is that if you try to "move up to the next level" and it's not successful, it's pretty important that you scale back for awhile before trying to do that 'next level' again. Starting out, you're not going to get time to peacefully sit on the couch with your pets - you need to be actively engaging (probably with the dog) anytime they can see the cat(s) at all, otherwise he's going to create his own entertainment (chasing the cat).
A very key thing I mentioned in the other thread is that - meant as kindly as possible - you can't expect a miracle overnight or a 'lightbulb' to suddenly go off in the dog's head. It will likely take several weeks or months of training for him to coexist peacefully with your kitties. It took me a full 2 years of training on "go to place" (dogbed) + "stay" for my dog to sit calmly (with reminders probably every minute and treats tossed his way every 3-4 'stay' reminders) while the cat plays (jumping and chasing a wand toy) in the same room. Also keep in mind that a tired dog is a good dog! Set your dog up for success by making sure he gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation (snuffle mats, nosework, puzzle feeders, learning a new command) outside of chasing the cat.
I hope this helps!