Why does my dog attack my other dog when he sees a cat?
(Q) We have two Labradors; one is a dog and the other a bitch. They both like to chase cats. Over recent months, and for no apparent reason, when we meet a cat, the dog has wanted to attack the bitch, and it takes a lot of effort to keep him off her. The bitch only retaliates when the dog gets too aggressive. Why is this happening?
What appears to be occurring here is known as redirection. The male has become so frustrated with not being able to chase the cat that he is redirecting this frustration towards the female.
Firstly do not allow your dogs to practise this unwanted behaviour by chasing cats. If they currently chase and are suddenly denied because of the lead, frustration quickly builds. If you have cats in your garden, check it is clear before you allow the dogs to go out. Also, walk them separately for a while until you reduce the desire to chase cats when they are spotted.
You can teach a sit as an alternative behaviour to chasing and scrapping. Firstly teach a stable sit in the house and garden. When you walk them separately, the second a cat is spotted request a sit and give a tasty snack (chicken or liver cake). If they are not interested in the food, it is likely they are too close to the cat. Calmly guide them away or try again later but further away. The closer they are to a cat the more intense their behaviour.
After a number of weeks they should see a cat and sit because ‘cats equal snacks from you'. The cat becomes the sit command! Once achieved you can apply the method when they are walked together.