You have got a new dog but you just couldn’t figure out as to why he keeps barking at your cat and you are getting worried that he might just bite her in one of these days.
If you are looking for an answer, this post will be for YOU!
I will be covering the following:
- Why Does Your Dog Keep Barking At Your Cat?
- What Can You Do To Stop This Behavior?
Why Do Dogs Bark At Cats?
Certainly, this is NOT about the ancient dispute between dogs and cats. Your dog is just doing his ancient tricks,which is “communicating” his thought to YOU!
For humans, we communicate through our languages whereas a dog’s way of communicating is through his barking.
Dog barks when there is something that catches his attention or when he sees something that makes him excited or nervous. He is trying to express his feelings to you through his way of communication (barking) since he can’t express himself with words.
Did you ever encounter the instance when you miss your morning walk with your dog and you find him barking at you?
This is his way of telling you – “take me for a walk” and he is not bearing any ill intention.
Your dog might bark at your cat because he sees her as a moving prey (and it will be more prominent if your dog belongs to a hunting breed which has a high prey drive), and wants to alert you on this.
He is telling you “Something there! There!”.
Thus, when your dog barks at your cat, it doesn’t necessarily mean aggressive intention. it could be just a way to show his excitement when he sees your little cat.
Having said that, do keep a watch out on his body language (e.g. stiffening of his body, showing his teeth, whale eyes, tense mouth or wrinkled nose) as well to understand more on his barking intention. (Just in case he is getting aggressive towards your poor cat and might just start to give chase if your cat starts to run away from him).
There are various types of dog barks and they mean different intentions. So you got to learn how to “decipher” your dog barking so as to know his intention towards your cat and to address his behavior accordingly.
What Different Types of Dog Barks Mean?
There are different types of bark for different moods. Getting to know them will certainly help you to work on the right training to stop your dog from barking at your cat.
Analysing dog’s barking through:
- Pitch. If your dog’s barking comes in higher pitch, this usually indicates that he is scared or in pain. If it’s in lower pitch, this shows that he is feeling threatened and might turn aggressive.
- Duration. If it’s a short, sudden bark, it usually shows that your dog is feeling excited or startled. A prolonged series of bark will mean there is more intention behind the bark.
- Frequency. If the barking is repetitive and fast paced, this shows his excitement or urgency.
Dog’s barking is a form of “alert” sounds and having a good understanding of it will greatly benefit you, to have a better communication channel with your dog. Just like you would know how to react when there is a fire alarm, once you had mastered their “dogspeak”, you would know what your dog wants and what to do next.
How to Stop Your Dog from Barking Your Cat? – 5 Proven WAYS
Once you get to know the “intention” of your dog’s barking, it would be much easier to work on a training program to correct his barking behavior (or I should say, to correct his “view” on the cat).
Stop His Territorial Behavior
Your dog might view your cat as invading his territory and barking is his way of showing discomfort. His barking could be in the form of low pitch and persistent one. For this behavior, you would have to act fast as he could easily turn aggressive and spring his attack to the cat once his tolerance threshold is reached.
What you need to do is first to separate him from your cat (make sure that they do not have any physical contact) and work on your dog’s training.
Usually, this could be due to your dog’s inadequate socialization. Start in the socialization training for your dog and monitor if this helps to improve his behavior. You need to teach him that cat is part of hio extended pack and he is supposed to protect and defend her. This will make him stop his barking or doing any harm to her.
Correct His Over Excitement
He might be barking just to show his excitement and this means no harm. Just a way to express his thrill to see the cat. In this case, the barking will be short and sudden ones.
To stop his excitement, try to do a proper introduction of your cat to him.
This is what you should do:
1. Keep them in a separate room for the first week and take turns for them to roam around the living room. This is to let them get used to each other scents and sounds before you have them meet up for the first time.
2. Let your cat play in your living room for 30 minutes before bringing her back to the room and.let your dog out from another room to the same living room for him to roam around. This is to make your dog familiar with your cat’s scent so that he will not bark when he sees her.
3. As your dog is having a very strong sense of smell, it would be normal for him to bark at the door of his room despite the fact that you had brought him away from the living room.
4. Keep repeating step 2 till you find your dog getting calmer.
5. When your dog no longer reacts in an excited way and remains calm (it’s likely he has gotten used to your cat’s scent), it’s time for them to meet up.
I would suggest on the following:
1. Choose an area where your cat will feel safe, and she can easily retract to a safe spot in case your dog starts chasing her. Cats tend to feel secure when there is some higher spot that she can jump to, so choose an area (maybe with bookshelf) that she can easily hop to.
2. Also put your dog on a leash (just to prevent any accident) and closely watch their reactions when they see each other for the very first time.
- Is your dog still exhibiting excitement or anxiety?
- Is your cat acting nervous and fearful?
If they are exhibiting these behaviors, go back to the step 1 training again. They are just NOT ready yet for interaction
If they are behaving calm and quiet, praise and reward them. This will reinforce their “good” behavior.
Keep the interacting session short (at most 10mins) for a start. You can gradually increase the duration once you find that they can get along well.
During the interacting session, if your dog starts to bark at your cat, you can train him to stop barking using Positive Reinforcement training.
When your dog starts barking at your cat, stick a tasty treat in front of his nose and say the command “Quiet”.
The moment he stops barking to sniff at the treat, praise him and give him the treat. This will help him to associate “Quiet” with his reward. He will learn that “Good” things will happen when he stops his barking at your cat.
Ease His Boredom
Your dog might also bark at your cat for one simple reason – Boredom. You see, if there is nothing to keep him occupied, he will just make use of “barking” as a way to entertain himself. In fact. he could be using this way to get your attention (which is by barking at your cat).
Make sure that you have some activities for your dog each day to keep him busy as well as to drain off his excessive energy. There is an old saying “A tired dog is a good dog.”
Establish Yourself As His Pack Leader
Your dog is trying to exhibit his dominant over the cat. This can be resolved by establishing yourself as his pack leader through training. In the dog’s world, the pack leader holds the highest hierarchy and all his subordinates will need to listen to him.
Pack leader is more like the BOSS of the pack. If your dog sees you as his “Alpha”, he will no longer try to show his dominance and will follow your instruction. You can then make him stop his barking.
Using Desensitization Method
This approach is to make your dog no longer “interested” in your cat. For this technique, you would need a dog crate. (Use this method if you feel that there is a risk of your dog attacking the cat. He will be kept in a crate to protect your cat from any harm during the training)
This Is How It Works
Put your dog in a crate (must be open view type, preferably wire crate) and gradually introduce your cat to move near to the crate.
For a start, keep a distance away and watch out for his reaction. If he is behaving very aggressively, bring your cat out of his view immediately and when he has calmed down, give him a treat. This will help to associate calmness with rewarding.
Proceed again with the same training and slowly bring the cat nearer to the crate once your dog is starting to behave well. Keep repeating these steps till he no longer shows any sign of aggressiveness and stop his barking at the cat.
When your dog is able to coexist with your cat peacefully, you would want to reinforce that behavior by giving him a treat again.
The idea is to make him equate the presence of the cat with something “GOOD” that will be happening to him.
In case your dog had the habit of eating your cat food, you can find out more on how to tackle this behavior from this posting as well.