One of my dogs, Mia, is a 5-year-old rescue German Shepherd dog who has been the only pet for her entire life. She’s lived with cats before, but never had much interaction with them other than chasing them around and barking at them through the window.
Lately, Mia has become obsessed with our new house cat, wanting to play or sleep next to him every night. She is typically a very obedient dog, but there’s nothing I do that can break her attention with cats. Why do you think that might be?
Why Is My Dog Obsessed with my cat?
There are many possible reasons why a dog might be obsessed with your cat, but the best way to find out what motivates your dog’s obsession is to observe them. Dogs can exhibit dominant behaviors which will involve stalking behavior so it may be that they want to play or herd the cat. Your dog’s behavior could also be due to jealousy or because they see them as prey options (strong prey drive). As long as he does not show aggression we should assume that this is just a form of play.
Let’s take a look at each of these reasons why your dog is obsessed with your cat.
5 Reasons Why Your Dog is Obsessed with Your Cat
1. Your Dog has A Strong Prey Drive
Dogs like to chase other dogs when playing, but have you seen your dog prey on your cat? If you have, it’s because he has a strong prey drive. This would be more likely if your dog comes from a breed that was originally bred to hunt such as an American pit bull terrier or Labrador Retriever.
Cats are instinctually not fond of dogs, so they may move to avoid this behavior (or might even use claws) which can make them look like fun toys that your dog wants to chase.
A strong prey drive in dogs can be a problem if they show aggression toward the cat. In this case, it would be best to stop the dog from chasing the cat and teach your dog some basic obedience so that he /she can live in harmony with his/her feline friend.
2. Your Dog is Just Playing
The truth is, all dogs love to play but not all dogs play the same way. Some dogs love to play fetch, while others love to chase something. But just because your dog’s obsession is chasing, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with a dog chasing your cat; after all, it’s unlikely that your cat will feel the same way too.
Pay attention to both your cat and dog’s reaction. If you see your cat is anxious or feels threatened, separate them. If you see that your cat is okay with your dog approaching them then encourage it so they can bond!
You can encourage this type of interaction by providing some toys for both the dog and cat. You’ll know when a toy is their favorite because one will start playing with it on its own while the other watches from afar, waiting for its turn to take over.
The only thing I do not recommend doing is encouraging any sort of roughhousing between these two species as dogs naturally have more strength than cats but if they’re just sniffing around each other or wrestling in an unassuming manner without teeth showing then that’s fine.
How do I know if my dog wants to play with my cat?
Here are some signs that your dog might want to play with the cat:
- Your dog might exhibit postures like bowing or lowering its head.
- Cats use the “elevator-butt” pose before pouncing or swatting at a dog’s tail.
- The dog or cat might be trying to get playtime by pretending like they are submissive.
- Sometimes dogs will play with cats by rolling over, just as a cat might roll onto his back to entice the dog.
- When both pets bite, they do it with their mouths open so that they do not hurt the other animal. They use less force than if they were batting or pawing.
- They both make minimal sounds while playing.
3. Your Dog is Herding Your Cat
While some dogs have strong prey instincts, other breeds have strong herding instincts (such as Border Collie). For these dogs, your cat might seem like a sheep to herd as dogs will express their herding drive with whatever is available, which may make it appear as though your dog is obsessed with your cat.
Sheepdogs may nip at the heels of a straggler, herd sheep into a tight huddle or circle, and bark to keep them clustered together. Similarly, your dog may be trying to get your cat closer so your dog can nudge your cat with his/her nose in an attempt to make your cat “move.”
4. It Has Something To Do With The Cat Sounds
You might think your dog is obsessed with your cat because of the cat’s smell or appearance; however, this is further from the truth. According to this case study from ScienceDirect, dogs, in general, pay more attention to cat sounds than other stimuli.
This is because cats have a unique vocalization that dogs can hear better than humans. Cats’ purring makes up this distinct sound. This study also found that what the dog hears when listening to the cat noise is similar in frequency to an infant crying—which explains why your dog might have been drawn to these noises.
5. Your Dog is Jealous
The addition of a new cat to a household is going to change the social order of things. The dog may be jealous that you are no longer paying as much attention to them. Dogs can feel left out when new animals enter the household, and they do not know how to react in a constructive way, which is why so many dogs exhibit aggressive behavior towards cats or other pets.
A cat’s natural instinct is being territorial over space such as furniture and beds, while this does create tension between your pet family members, it also allows for an easy resolution by simply not putting them in the same room but at a distance.
This will allow your dog time to adjust before meeting with the cat again on neutral territory where the aggression will not come into play because there is nothing at stake.
How to Stop Your Dog From Being Obsessed With Your Cat
1. Socialize Your Dog and Cat Early On
Socialization is a vital part of a dog’s life. In the case of a dog and cat, early socialization and introduction can help to prevent obsessive behavior.
Ideally, this socialization process should be done at an early age when your dog is a puppy and your cat is a kitten so that when adulthood arrives, there isn’t any tension on either end because by then, both pets recognize each other without feeling threatened or territorial.
If you have a new cat in your home and your dog is an adult, introduce the cat gradually and cautiously. One trick is to get both of them to get used to one another’s smells before meeting face-to-face.
2. Redirect Your Dog’s Attention
Socializing your pet and integrating them into the family is a great way to prevent obsessive behavior.
If both of your pets are adults, you may want to consider redirection as an option for preventing dog-on-cat aggression. One technique that has been known to work in many cases is directing your dog’s attention from your cat towards something interesting like a fun game or toys like a stuffed Kong.
3. Feed Your Dog and Cat Separately
Food aggression is relatively common in dogs. This aggression is a form of resource guarding where the dog views food as a resource and will guard it against other animals.
When your dog sees your cat eat in the same room, they might feel threatened and sometimes chase after them because they feel it is unfair for other pets to have free access to their food bowls.
Feeding your dog and cat in a separate room can help prevent this behavior from occurring, especially if you feed them on opposite sides of the room or house so that there isn’t any direct contact between the two animals as they eat.
4. Introduce Your Dog and Cat Properly
Here are some steps to introduce a new cat to your dog:
- Keep your cat in a carrier and introduce it to the dog on its own turf
- Allow them to sniff each other through the bars of their respective carriers, but don’t allow any physical contact
- Let them explore one another’s territory for a few minutes before you let them out together
- If they’re still getting along after an hour, give it some time – you can always separate them if necessary
- Keep lots of toys around for both pets to enjoy so they’ll have plenty of entertainment when left alone
5. Get The Help of a Professional Dog Trainer or Behaviourist
If this doesn’t work, it may be time to call in the professionals. Dog trainers and behaviouralists are trained for situations exactly like these. They can help you teach your dog to live harmoniously with your cat by teaching them through positive reinforcement or desensitization exercises.
If you have a dog that is obsessed with your cat, there are some things to consider. For example, dogs can react differently when they see their owner petting the cat rather than seeing someone else do it.
It’s important not to give preferential treatment in order for them to get used to one or the other.
I also recommend making sure each pet has its own space and resources, so neither feels like an outsider. With these tips at hand, hopefully, we’ll be able to help you make peace between animals and live together harmoniously!