While some pet owners prefer dogs to cats or vice versa, many people enjoy the company of both animals. In this case, finding a dog breed that gets along well with cats is key if you want them to co-exist. With proper training and socialization, the Border Collie is an energetic and friendly choice for families with cats and children.
However, there can be issues with introducing your Border Collie to your cat, especially if your cat is irritated by your Collie’s herding instinct. To make the new arrival easier to accept, it is important to understand why Border Collies chase cats and how to train them to stop.
What is a Border Collie?
Of all the dog breeds in the herding group, the border collie is considered one of the best dogs in the world. First introduced to the border of Scotland and England, they were bred specifically for herding.
Their intelligence, agility, ability to follow orders, and fierce loyalty give them an edge over many other herding breeds. These days, Border Collies are also used for agility and obedience competitions, as well as police work, search and rescue, and service dogs.
While Border Collies are used in competitions, many breed fanatics, especially herders, have wanted to preserve the breed’s herding prowess. Instead, they introduced the Rough Collie as a show dog, so the Border Collie can be bred for skill rather than looks.
Why do Border Collies chase cats?
One of the biggest issues facing Border Collie owners is the dog’s herding instinct. Their original purpose being to help shepherds keep their sheep under control, the Border Collie is known to herd everything from balloons to cats and sometimes even children.
Overall, the Border Collie is loyal and affectionate with its family, which includes children and other pets, and it is not an aggressive breed. However, their instincts can get them into trouble, especially when their feline friend takes offense at their determination to herd them into a corner or stop them from running away.
Fortunately, one of the best qualities of the Border Collie is its trainability. With dedication on your part, you can train your Border Collie not to chase your cat, and the two animals can happily coexist.
How to Introduce a Border Collie to Your Cat
When it comes to training, it’s always best to start off on the right foot. The first introduction between your cat and your new dog can easily set the tone for their relationship. No matter how old your dog or cat is when you introduce them, making sure they get along should always be your first step.
It’s important to introduce your pets slowly and give them plenty of time to adjust to each other’s presence.
Border Collies are well known for their intelligence and trainability. Their ability to quickly understand what you expect of them is further aided by lots of positive reinforcement, and your cat can benefit from this approach as well.
Whenever your pets meet or mingle, reward them when they have little or no reaction to each other. This will teach them that their new furry companion is not something to get upset about. Be careful not to yell if things go wrong, as you could escalate the situation and teach both animals to be suspicious of each other.
Introducing your new family member’s scent can be done long before you bring them home. By letting your cat and your Border Collie get used to the new scent, they will slowly learn to accept each other even before they meet. This can help make the introduction smoother.
Their reaction to each other’s scent is also a good indicator of when you can introduce the newcomer. When they stop reacting to the strange smell, that’s a good indication of when it’s safe to meet in person.
Use a barrier
For safety reasons, it is always best to have a barrier between animals that meet for the first time. This keeps you and your pets out of reach and gives them plenty of room to move around if they feel threatened. For older animals in particular, this approach can simplify fitting.
Start with a closed door, with your cat and your Border Collie on either side. Having a friend to help you will make it easier to reassure both animals. You can also use a baby gate. Use positive reinforcement to teach both animals that the other animal is a good thing instead of being scared.
When both animals are comfortable with each other’s presence, you can remove the barrier. Keeping your Border Collie on a leash will also help you get them out of the room if one of the animals panics or your Collie tries to chase your cat away.
How to Teach a Border Collie Not to Chase Your Cat
After the initial introduction is complete, training your Border Collie not to chase your cat is the next step and should be done as soon as possible. Not only will this help your pets co-exist, but it will also prevent them from developing unwanted habits that you will need to train later.
Using a leash while working with your Border Collie will allow you to maintain control of your dog even if he fails to control his instincts.
Despite their intelligence, Border Collies will get confused if you give them too many conflicting commands. Focus on the behavior you want to reinforce, such as not reacting when your cat is in the room, and avoid confusing it by praising hyperactivity or other unwanted behaviors. Even if your dog’s herding tendencies are adorable, you want to focus on praise for restraint.
Dogs focus on things they find interesting. Any dog will be naturally curious about a new friend, and if the cat is the most interesting thing in the room, getting your collie’s attention can be a challenge.
His favorite toy or a special treat can help convince your dog to ignore your cat. Playing with your dog or giving him something to chew serves two purposes: it will help you teach him that the cat isn’t as interesting as you are, and it will reward him for ignoring his hunting instincts.
Many new dog owners forget how effective simple obedience commands can be, especially when teaching your dog how to react in new situations. The commands sit, stay, go and recall are all essential when it comes to training your Border Collie to behave properly.
Once you remove the leash, these commands will be the only thing stopping your dog from chasing your cat. Your Collie should respond to your instructions even if he is distracted.
These commands are also a good starting point for the tricks you want your Collie to learn in the future, whether you want to move up to agility or obedience.
Border Collies are people-pleasing and like to know when you are proud of them. You can reinforce good behavior with a game of fetch or tug or by using treats that you wean them off slowly. Praise and lots of affection are also good ways to reinforce the behavior you like.
The more you praise the desired behavior, the faster your Border Collie will learn.
Bringing a new puppy home for the first time is always exciting. Although you can introduce an older dog to your cat, puppies have some advantages over older dogs. They allow you to start from scratch, and the younger your dog, the easier it is to teach him not to chase your cat or babysit.
Presenting them with various situations will keep their minds active and less easily distracted when you need their attention. Socializing them in other places and with different people and pets will also teach them how to behave properly.
Border Collies can be difficult to keep up with due to their boundless energy, but their affectionate nature makes them excellent family pets. Their herding instincts can make cats in multi-pet homes wary of them, but with proper training, you can teach your Border Collie to leave their feline friends alone.
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