If your dog has been barking at cats, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog bark at cats? Likely reasons why your dog barks at cats are that it is in its nature to do so due to selective breeding, your dog is jealous or that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog barks at cats and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.

Why does my dog bark at cats?

Below are likely causes and what would make each of them more likely.

Your dog’s ancestors were selected for their barking

People used to want dogs to bark when they saw things like cats or moving things such as rodents because it was useful to the people in terms of protecting their food stores and in finding new food. The reason why your dog barks at things like cats is mainly because it is in its genes to do so.

A high prey drive

Some breeds are known for having a high prey drive. It might be the case that your dog has been doing it because your dog naturally wants to chase cats and because it considers cats as prey. This would be more likely if your dog is a breed that is known for having a high prey drive such as a German Shepherd or Siberian Husky.

Encouraging the behavior

It could also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it barks at cats, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Jealousy

Another possible cause is that your dog is jealous of your cat. This would be more likely if there is a certain time that your dog tends to bark at your cat such as when you are feeding your cat or when you are giving your cat attention. In this case, it would help to avoid rewarding your dog when it does it, but to try to separate them where possible in order to limit your dog being aggressive towards your cat.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

If your dog has always barked at cats

If your dog has not always barked at cats, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely that your dog became jealous of them or that your dog learned that the behavior is rewarded.

The timing of when your dog tends to bark at cats

It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog tends to bark at cats. If there is a certain time that your dog tends to bark at cats, it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if your dog does it when you are feeding your cat, it would be more likely that your dog is jealous or being food possessive.

How to get my dog to stop barking at cats?

Below are some options you have when discouraging your dog from doing it. However, be aware that it will likely be very difficult for you to completely stop the behavior since it is in your dog’s nature to bark at things such as cats.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to try to avoid rewarding your dog, when it barks at cats, to give it a “time out” and to reward your dog when it is being well behaved.

Separate them

If your dog is a breed that is known for having a high prey drive, your dog seems to be jealous of your cat or you are concerned about your cat, the safest option would be to separate them by allowing your cat to go somewhere your dog cannot. It would also help to make sure to feed them separately since that is a particularly high risk time. It would also help to ensure your cat has access to a high spot that it can go to and be away from your dog.

Give your dog distractions

Another option would be to give your dog things to be distracted by so that it is less likely to start barking at cats. Things you could give it would include toys or bones.

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behaviors you want to see by rewarding them. To use it to get your dog to stop barking at cats, you would reward your dog whenever it shows signs of not barking at cats and whenever it does not bark at cats but normally would.

How to get my dog to stop being aggressive towards cats?

If your dog is aggressive towards cats, here are some options you have.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

Again, the cause could be due to encouraging the behavior. If you become highly reactive when your dog is aggressive towards cats, your dog will likely pick up on it and think that the behavior is justified. Instead, it would help to avoid giving it any rewards when it does it, to separate them and to try to redirect its focus elsewhere.

Positive reinforcement training

Another option would be to use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to leave your cat alone. You can watch the video below to see how.

Separate them

In order to keep your cat safe, it would also help to ensure your cat has access to an area that your dog cannot get to. It would also help to separate them at key times such as when you are not feeding them and when you are not around.

Why is my dog obsessed with my cat?

Likely reasons why your dog is obsessed with your cat are that your dog is jealous of your cat, it is in your dog’s nature to chase cats or that you have been encouraging the behavior. In order to limit the behavior, it would help to give your cat access to areas your dog cannot get to and to reward your dog whenever it leaves your cat alone.

Why is my dog fixated on my cat?

The most likely reasons why your dog is fixated on your cat is that it is a breed that has a high prey drive, it is jealous of your cat or that it has learned that the behavior is encouraged. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not bother your cat and to separate them when necessary.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.