How to Train Your Puppy to Leave Your Cats Alone

A new puppy is an exciting time for everyone in your home… well, everyone except your cats. Probably used to ruling the roost for a while, your cats are going to be in for a shock when they meet the newest members of your family. Yes, puppies may be extremely adorable, but they can also be extremely annoying to your laid-back kitties who are used to being able to lounge around and relax without the presence of an irritating furry little brother or sister!

Part of being a puppy is playing, and pups naturally play by chasing, jumping and tackling anything that moves! Puppies also gently nip and bite as a normal part of their development. While you may be able to handle a puppy-shaped tornado invading your home, your cats are probably going to be less than thrilled being chased and accosted by an excitable and energetic ball of fur when they are trying to relax.

Thankfully, you can train your puppy to leave your cats alone – and here’s how.

Separate them

Charging at your cats and trying to play with them is a habit that you are going to have to break if your feline friends are ever going to get any peace. The first thing you need to do is to separate your pup from your cats as much as possible unless you are around to supervise. This is because chasing, nipping and jumping on your cats is part of their prey drive and naturally reinforcing to your pup, and the more he does it, the more likely he is to do it again and again.

Use crates, gates and other equipment to prevent your pup from getting to your cats. You generally needn’t worry about keeping your cats away from your pup, they will be grateful for the peace and quiet!

Wear your puppy out

Puppies seem to have boundless energy, but the more you can tire your puppy out, the less he will seek out and terrorize your cats. There are lots of ways you can try and wear out your pup, but one of the best is through mental stimulation.

Mental stimulation is an important part of your pet’s development, and will also help to prevent him from becoming bored and developing naughty behaviors. Some of the ways that you can keep their brain busy include:

  • Puppy training classes
  • Puppy socialization classes
  • Teach tricks
  • Playing games and using food as rewards
  • Providing plenty of toys, especially puzzle toys that contain his favourite treats. He has to figure out how to get the treats out, which will keep him occupied for ages!

Although it isn’t possible to play with your pup all day every day, just an hour or two of mental stimulation will help his brain to develop properly, and make him less likely to harass other animals in your home.

Of course, physical stimulation will help too, and so all that playing, alongside their regular walks, will hopefully contribute towards a more chilled-out pup!

Gradual Exposure

Once you feel ready, you can try the gradual exposure technique to get your new puppy and cats used to one another. Exposure therapy has been proven to be effective in many different fields, including in pet introductions.

You can start by securing your puppy with a leash so that he can’t get at your cat, and have a friend bring your cat into the room. The goal is to reward your pup for exhibiting good, calm behaviors such as sitting still, lying down and showing disinterest in the cat. If he behaves well, reward him with verbal praise and a treat.

As your pup’s ability to tolerate the cat improves – and it will, with patience – you can extend the amount of time he has to show good behavior before earning a treat, then start to bring your cat closer and then think about removing the leash. The whole process may take weeks, or even months, but by reinforcing that calm behavior around your cat will be rewarded you can override their natural desire to chase and torment.