The dog trainer is in to answer your questions. Alexandra Macias, CPDT-KA owner and operator of the Long Beach-based Alex Macias dog training, will be sitting down and answering readers' pet-related questions.
My family has had our puppy Parker for about five months and no matter what we try, he will not stop trying to play with the cat (the cat does not like the dog). Do you have any tips you recommend?
Good question. Making sure your cat and dog can coexist is definitely important! I recommend the leave it command a lot, and I’m going to do so again. It’s my go-to command because it works for everything, cats included. If you can successfully teach him to leave it, then you can give him the command every time Parker decides to pester your cat.
Here’s how to teach Parker leave it:
- Begin by having a treat in your open hand.
- Place you hand in front of Parker.
- When Parker starts to go after the treat, close your hand.
- Tell him to “leave it” ONCE, and wait for him to give up trying to get the treat.
- Once he gives up, praise him, and let him have the treat.
- Repeat these steps until he gives up immediately once you say “leave it.”
- Once Parker has mastered leaving the treat in your hand, move up to putting the treat on the floor.
- Place the treat on the floor in front of Parker.
- When he goes after the treat, quickly cover the treat with your hand.
- Tell him to “leave it” ONCE.
- Once he stops trying to get the treat from under your hand, praise him, and let him have the treat.
- Repeat these until he immediately leaves the treat alone when you say the command.
Once he has mastered leaving the treats on the floor, and you do not need to continue covering the treat with your hand, practice “leave it” with items he tends to go after (your cat.) I suggest having him on a leash when practicing with your cat. Good luck! WOOF!
Alexandra (Alex) Macias, CPDT-KA, has been a certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist since 2008, and is the owner of Alex Macias Dog training, a Long Beach-based dog training company. To ask Alexandra questions for a future article, leave them in the comments below, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.