Dogs and cats tend to get into a vicious cycle of fleeing and chasing. The cat begins to view the dog as a threatening figure, which spurs the cat to flee and run away when she sees the dog.
But this actually exacerbates the problem and perpetuates the cycle because the act of fleeing activates the dog’s prey drive — his drive to chase perceived prey items. This can also precipitate aggression, as the dog becomes consumed by an instinctual urge to chase down and capture the prey item — your kitty! Over time, the dog and the cat get into a habit of running and chasing, so you’ll need to break the habit and help them start over by building a positive relationship from scratch.
So to break the cycle, it’s important to work with both the dog and the cat. You’ll need two people, one to tend to each animal as you host meet-and-greet sessions. It’s important to promote peaceful co-existence in the same room, while offering lots of praise, treats and other positive reinforcement for non-aggressive behavior. As they become comfortable with each other, they can get closer in proximity and ultimately begin interacting, which will enable them to develop a more positive relationship.
The key is to help the cat feel comfortable with the dog so she doesn’t feel inclined to flee; once the cat stops fleeing, the dog typically stops chasing. Therefore, during the meet-and-greet sessions, keep the dog leashed so he can’t give chase. This is the key to helping your dog and cat live together in a peaceful manner!