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Dog is afraid of cats: what to do?


If your dog is afraid of cats, you should carefully introduce him to the strange species. In severe cases, an animal psychologist or a dog trainer can help you to relieve the fear of your four-legged friend. You can find out more about this here. This little French bulldog seems to be afraid of the cat - Shutterstock / Irina Kozorog

As soon as your dog sees a cat, does it make itself very small, try to hide or to calm down with appeasement signals? Then it is quite possible that he is afraid of the velvet paws. But where does this fear come from and how can you help your animal friend?

Why is a dog afraid of cats?

Several factors likely come together when dogs develop fear of cats. Like humans, animals are particularly afraid of the unknown - so if your dog has never had anything to do with cats and suddenly encounters a house tiger, it may react fearfully. Especially dogs that have not been adequately socialized and grew up in a low-stimulus environment tend to have anxiety disorders later because there is so much that is unknown to them. However, anxiety can also be due to the dog's personality - some four-legged friends are more shy and cautious than others.

Then your dog may have had bad experiences with cats and is therefore afraid of them. Perhaps he once approached a velvet paw too quickly and did not recognize its defense signals in time, so that he caught a painful claw blow. Another possible reason that is difficult for outsiders to understand is incorrect links. Dogs (and other living things) combine an unpleasant to a painful experience with something that has nothing to do with it.

For example, your dog might have come across an electric fence while curiously trying to approach a cat in a meadow. He then links the following pain stimulus to the strange animal instead of the electric fence and becomes afraid. Whether it is a one-time scare or an anxiety disorder develops from it is again a question of genetic and personal disposition, previous experience, socialization and upbringing.

How to help your scared dog

If your dog is afraid of cats, the so-called systematic desensitization helps. At the beginning you try to keep the fear - in this case cats - away from your four-legged friend. So he can calm down and prepare himself for the next steps. Go slowly, in small stages, making the best notes of how your dog behaves and develops and what you have practiced during training. For example, you can initially only show your four-legged friend photos and videos of cats and act out the meowing of the house tigers. In a further step, he then meets real cats, for example particularly friendly and meek velvet paws from your circle of friends.

Keep dog and cat together: requirements

Dogs and cats do not have to be literally enemies. Both pets can be very well ...

In the presence of the cats you will do something good for your dog, for example he will get a great treat, praise or a petting. You can also play his favorite game with him so that he notices that nothing bad will happen if the strange animals are near him - on the contrary. In the meantime, take good care of your dog, keep it on a leash, and give it security and that everything is in perfect order. If he then appears to relax and no longer appears anxious or nervous when looking at tigers, the animals can carefully sniff at them. With patience and a little luck, one day peaceful body contact is possible.

Fear of cats: when do dogs need professional help?

Systematic desensitization is theoretically a simple principle, but implementation can be difficult. Sometimes it is also necessary for dogs to get rid of their fear as quickly as possible - for example, if he is afraid of your own cats, which he cannot easily avoid. Whenever you are in any doubt as to whether you can help your dog alone, you should contact a specialist. An animal psychologist can help you with this, or a dog trainer specially trained in the treatment of anxiety disorders.