How To Tell If A Dog Is Aggressive Towards Cats

Dog aggression is often misunderstood and can become problematic. To treat it, you must first understand it and find the cause behind this behavior.

Is your canine showing signs of aggression towards cats? Here are some tips to determine the cause of such aggression, to find its source, and to prevent it while protecting yourself and your loved ones.

How to tell if a dog is aggressive towards cats header

Signs Of Aggression In Dogs

First, you should know that aggression is a normal way of communication in dogs. For this reason, all pups, even yours, are a potential danger of aggression towards a cat, regardless of breed or age.

Even if your dog is aggressive towards cats, he can be very obedient. Aggression is therefore not a proper training problem, but a behavioural disorder that requires specialized knowledge and techniques to be controlled.

Different Aggressions, Different Messages

Your dog may express different types of aggression for different reasons. What he’s trying to tell you with this behaviour also varies.

Distancing Aggression

This type of somewhat territorial aggression toward cats is intended to increase the distance between your hound and a stimulus (a cat in this case). He often expresses fear, anxiety or a warning about a person, animal, noise or a situation that is bothering him.

This type of aggression follows a very specific sequence with the following signs:

A threat phase where your pup:

  • Stares…
  • Growl
  • Shows his/her teeth

A break during which he examines the reaction of the other individual or cat or the stimulus.

Then, one of the two following actions occur:

  • He ceases the aggression if the individual or stimulus stops approaching or threatening him…or
  • He goes one step forward with this show of power if the cat or stimulus does not comply with his initial warning

This intensification of his threat can be expressed by:

  • Biting the air
  • Biting the cat, with his teeth simply being in contact with the skin.
  • Then a more intense bite, which pierces the skin

Since your canine’s violence is an effective way to eliminate a threat, its intensity tends to increase over time.

On the other hand, If your pet is suffering from anxiety, he may respond with an altered or a modified sequence than the one above.

Because he has difficulty assessing a seriousness of a situation, his episodes of severe aggression towards cats seem difficult to explain or a bit out of proportion.

If your pooch is violent because he’s suffering from anxiety, be sure to quickly control this behaviour to avoid problematic situations. How can you do this? Talk to your veterinary or consult a behaviourist.


Predation is another form of aggression, the sequence of which is totally different from the distancing type. In this case, your dog’s goal is to kill the cat he sees as its prey.

This sequence is fast, totally silent and almost impossible to stop when initiated. For people less familiar with canine language, it may seem “sneaky”.

Victims of predation attacks are often small animals such as household cats who could get killed. However, your hound may express an atypical predation sequence towards humans, different objects or moving subjects.

How To Train A Dog Not To Chase Cats

Maybe you have a puppy and a kitten under your roof. if this is the case, the tips below will help you make peace between these two;

Before the contact

It is often much easier to train a puppy than a kitten. Therefore, you should first and foremost set clear rules for your canine. It should be made clear to him that cats are friends: they should never be chased away, this also applies to walks in the park or when they pass by the neighbours’ garden.

The sooner you make him understand that felines are neither prey nor enemies, the more this lesson will be anchored in his memory.

The friendlier your pooch is to kittens, the easier it will be to get close to them.

As a part of obedience training , when your canine companion behaves correctly and follow your commands you should offer compliments and rewards. Do the same when he is gentle and respectful with his feline companion! That’s what you need to apply if you want to learn how to train a dog to get along with cats.

It is often harder to make cats understand that hounds are neither offensive nor enemies. And yes, even them can be trained! Try to reward your kitten after each contact with a dog. It is essential to associate such contact with something positive.

This can be a gentle caress when your feline observes a foreign pup through the window or a treat when your kitten remains calm while another four-legged animal approaches. This is a crucial point. If preparation has been carried out carefully, chances are that cohabitation will prove to be a real success.

Remember, when bringing dogs and cats together in your home, it is essential that both animals have their own corner and the opportunity to go away when needed.

Give them enough space

It is often easiest to separate them in two different rooms. During the first few days, the animals should not have any contact, especially if you have a dog fixated on new kitten. By exchanging their blankets, toys and cushions, you give your dog and cat the opportunity to adapt to each other’s scent. For example, you can wipe your cat with a soft cloth and then offer it to your canine.

Asking for help

It makes sense to make this first contact with a second or even third person. In any case, these should be people whom both animals trust and with whom they do not feel threatened.

Keeping your dog on a leash

It should not be forgotten that, as a general rule, a canine takes the upper hand because of its more massive physique. For added safety, keep yhim on a leash during this first contact.

Keeping your cat safe

A cat bed placed on a shelf provides a quiet resting place, out of the reach of hounds. In this case, your kitten will feel more secure. She’ll look down on her larger companion from above and realise that it’s not as dangerous as she might have thought at first glance.

Do not lock up cats and dogs

Above all, do not lock your cat in a cage under any circumstances! Did you think you were doing this to reassure him? It’s not! Without a possibility of getting out, he will feel threatened. The same goes for your larger companion, he should never feel that he is in competition with your feline under any circumstances.

Feeding time

In the following months, you will need to pay attention to ensuring that your animals find their place and have enough space. A litter box is not a place to bury doggie toys. Bowls will also be a controversial subject. It may be better to separate food of the two animals from the start so that there is no rivalry. Moreover, both animals should enjoy tender moments with you enough so that neither one feels jealous!

Sometimes animals may take one step forward one day, and two steps back the next day. This process of cohabitation can last for hours, days or weeks, depending on what type of character or experience your animals have. Do not hurry and remember that there is no rush! The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for your pets to trust you.

How To Stop A Dog From Being Aggressive Towards Other Dogs

Causes Of Social Aggression Towards Other Dogs

A senior dog that has not been in regular contact with other pets including cats and dogs while he was a puppy may become distrustful and aggressive with them, and remain so if nothing is put in place to correct this defect.

Thus, a basis of a successful education largely passes through a crucial period of socialization where a puppy must learn the codes of communication with his fellow canines and therefore be able to distinguish a friendly canine attitude from a hostile or threatening one.

This is why, if you have a puppy, it is essential to introduce him to his canine “buddies” or even to cats in a positive way like while playing or walking.

Other factors can lead to this form of social aggression towards cats or other dogs, such as rescue dogs or animals that come from shelters where they have experienced tense and traumatic relationships with other dogs, or that have grown up in isolation without the opportunity to socialize and adopt their way of communicating with other hounds.

Socialization Of An Adult Dog

Socializing a dog in adulthood can only be done through a phase of total re-education so that he understands that his fellow pups do not necessarily pose a threat. Hounds that are aggressive towards others are often defensive because they are fearful or dominant, but this should not be considered a fundamental trait but rather a consequence of past experiences.

Thus, the dominant attitude in a pup is not fatal as it is a fluctuating and adaptive mechanism. In order to re-socialize a senior dog, it is necessary to make him experience an encounter with his fellow dogs or cats as a positive moment in order to gradually readapt him to it.

The main idea is to be constant in such exercises and never get angry or raise your voice, which would only reinforce your canine’s fears.

A Few Tips To Re-socialize Your Dog

One technique consists of standing in a place frequented by other dogs or cats, without giving him any possibility of coming into direct physical contact with them, and giving him a treat each time a dog passes by while diverting his attention through play or petting.

Remember to congratulate him warmly as soon as he has let a hound or a kitten pass without being violent. This positive reinforcement will not teach him any social codes, but it will teach him to tolerate a sight of his fellow dogs and their passing in his proximity, before moving on to a more concrete stage of face-to-face contact.

We can then consider controlled encounters with a neutered dog of the same sex and of similar size to avoid a feeling of competition.

This meeting should also take place in a neutral place (not in your home or in the other animal’s territory) and if possible in open air because a leash reinforces this hierarchical relationship: a tied pup often feels “stronger” because it is connected to its master, contrary to what one might think!

Finding Friends For Your Dog!

Once your puppy has learned to tolerate proximity to other dogs and cats, A next step is to get him involved in activities where he’ll be around other pets in a controlled environment.

Dog obedience training clubs are a very good option because he will meet the same pups regularly. In addition, you will be able to reinforce his obedience to have better control over him, while being supervised by professionals in case of a crisis or a fight.

In a same sense, considering group walks with dogs that already know each other can prove its worth, because an aggressive dog will be less likely to attack others in a group situation.

Be aware that your canine may not be able to get along with all other canines or cats: whether in a club or on a walk, give preference to “buddies” with whom he seems comfortable and don’t overwhelm him with new encounters each time.

If such problems persists, don’t remain helpless and don’t hesitate to call on a trainer or behaviourist, who can offer you help through regular and personalised follow-up.

What To Do In Case Of A Tense Meeting?

In the event of a fight or aggressive behaviour such as growling and barking, it is important first of all not to panic. Shouting or pulling on a leash can make your pet think there is danger and that he has a good reason to behave this way. In addition, growling is a means of communication between dogs and it is advisable not to interrupt such exchange so as not to influence your hound’s behaviour.

If necessary, you can try to distract your dog’s attention by continuing the walk and talking to him in a calm voice: “That’s fine, let’s go, it’s just a friendly kitten”.

So, even if you feel tension in the air, don’t intervene immediately and don’t let your stress control this situation.

Finally, if you are afraid of confrontation, it is sometimes better to play indifferent and change sidewalks to avoid this meeting, but keep in mind that using this strategy consistently will not improve this problem.

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