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How To Tell If A Dog Is Aggressive Towards Cats — 8 Signs!

How To Tell If A Dog Is Aggressive Towards Cats — 8 Signs!

Whenever we ask someone to describe how they find dogs, most will tell us they’re adorable, friendly, and simply irresistible to be with. 

Sometimes, we even hear adjectives like protective, helpful, and easy-going.

But, whenever our canine pals come across cats, this amiable nature of theirs simply disappears into thin air. 

It’s as if your pup’s possessed by some evil spirit that it can’t help but become aggressive towards the cat.

However, every doting fur parent knows that not all dogs act the same way when meeting or interacting with a cat. In fact, some pups even get along well with their kitty pals.

So, how then can you tell if your beloved pup’s aggressive towards felines? 

Make sure to continue reading this article for you to find out early on.


How to tell if a dog is aggressive towards cats?

The best way for you to deduce if your canine friend’s not amiable with felines is by watching out for signs of aggressive behavior. These can include stopping from eating whenever the cat’s near his food, growling, assuming a “ready-to-attack” stance, pinning of the ears backward, and baring its teeth. Other times, pups can also assume a biting posture, slow tail wagging, and glaring at the cat.


1. Stops eating whenever feline’s near his food

Everyone knows how protective pups are with items they treasure the most. Though canines most commonly display this protectiveness whenever they see strangers lurking near their territory, they can also exhibit such behavior during mealtime.

Simply put, dogs love their food so much that they refuse to let anyone (including their fur parents, sometimes) near their meal. This is especially true if the canine simply distrusts that person.

And, as long-standing rivals of the doggy species, it isn’t surprising for cats to be on our canine pals’ hit list. 

Even as the cat merely passes by the dog’s food corner, a canine that’s aggressive towards it will immediately stop munching on its meal and follow its every move.

Think of it like the canine’s already sending a silent yet stern warning to the cat to back off. 

Though you think of such behavior as irrational, sometimes pups simply don’t trust felines that they’re willing to keep their guard down whenever they’re around during chow time.


2. Produces deep-toned growls

If the initial warning system didn’t make any effect on the feline, then the dog will immediately issue a more obvious hint. And, what more apparent way to do this than produce deep-toned growls, right?

Well, if you’re still a new fur parent, you might miss out on this early indication of aggressive behavior towards the feline race. Sometimes, you might think that the doggo’s merely playing around with the cat.

But, experts say that growling is the most common form of expressing aggression for most animals, with dogs making it on the list as well. 

Since pups can’t verbally express how uneasy they are towards the cat, they merely resort to producing these menacing sounds as a threat.

Usually, canines issue threats whenever someone untrustworthy encroaches on their personal space. Be it their sleeping quarters, play area, or their food corner, they’ll keep their defenses up whenever they don’t like a certain someone to be near those areas.

Dogs can even start growling for the simplest of things around a cat. Be it merely tapping on their favorite toy or accidentally touching their paws on them, dogs won’t pass up the opportunity to let their irritation show through.

Good thing if the kitty learns early on to back away from the pup. But, what if it doesn’t? 

Then, it’s time for the pup to escalate things further.


3. Assuming attack stance

If your feline doesn’t immediately back away from the pup’s stern warning growls, then your canine will take things further and assume a more visible cue than before.

Here’s when the dog will assume a ready-to-attack stance. 

This behavior can range from being acting cautiously around the feline to raising their hackles whenever a cat’s lurking in the area.

So, if you notice that your canine’s taking on this posture already, don’t wait for the tense situation to further escalate. 

Or else, your pup will resort to assuming the other behaviors below.


4. Pins ears backward

Usually, observant cats will already heed a canine’s first three warning behaviors to avoid any ruckus from ensuing. 

But, on the off-chance that the feline’s riling the dog further, the pup will keep its ears back.

However, pups can also assume this pinned ears stance when they’re fearful or if they’re trying to act cute to curry your favor.

So, if you’re having a hard time differentiating if such an ear position’s more on the aggressive side, check for the size of the canine’s pupils. 

If they’re dilated, then it’s a clear indication that no one should be messing with your doggo now. Not even your seemingly friendly feline.


5. Bares his teeth

If you’re keen on reading informative dog articles, you might’ve come across baring teeth as another common sign of a canine that’s aggressive towards another animal; in this case a cat. 

But, if you’re observant enough, sometimes dogs can do this very same gesture when you’re training them to “smile.” 

Though smiling isn’t in the normal nature of canines, you can train them to do so if you know how to go about with the training.

So, to better differentiate between an innocent “smile” and that of a menacing look, you’ll have to check for how tense the pup’s muzzle is. 

If you can’t see any tenseness or wrinkling while the dog’s doing this, then it’s quite safe to say it’s merely performing the trick you asked it to. 

But, if you see those two along with snarling and exposed teeth, then better remove the cat from the area as soon as possible.


6. Assumes a biting posture

The biting stance is ultimately the clearest sign of a canine’s aggression towards your kitty pal. 

Though the first few gestures mentioned earlier are already indicators of rising tension between the two, a pup assuming a biting posture means that it’s already close to its limits.

And, once the doggo’s assuming this stance already, it’s only a few seconds away from tearing apart its prey. So, if you don’t want to witness such a gnarly scene, better intervene now and separate the two animals.


7. Slow tail movement

As everyone knows, a dog’s tail is the most apparent indicator of its mood. Whether the pup’s happy, sad, or even afraid, the tail will assume varying positions to show what it feels at the exact moment.

And, when your canine pal’s starting to become aggressive towards your cat, you’ll find that it tucks its tail downward in a tensed position. Think of it like the tail’s become a sturdy stick at this point.

Aside from the tucked position, the dog will tend to “wag” its tail slowly. It’s as if the pup’s showing another warning signal for the feline to back off.


8. Glaring 

Last, but not least on the list, is the deadly canine glare towards the cat. 

Usually, we don’t see this nowadays as most pups have adjusted well into domestication. But, as dogs are descended from wolves, it’s not unusual for them to still possess the high prey drive from their ancestors.

Hence, it’s not bizarre for canines to still act wary around cats, let alone think of them as prey. 

With this, a pup looking calmly at the feline without blinking is an obvious signal of an impending attack on the cat. 

It’s like the doggo’s issuing a warning to the cat that he’s watching its every move. And, once the feline takes the wrong step, a nasty fight will surely ensue.


Reasons behind canine aggression towards felines

While there are various reasons why a seemingly friendly dog all of a sudden goes berserk whenever a cat goes near him, you cannot entirely prevent the pup from doing so.

If you remember earlier, dogs still possess the prey drive that their wolf ancestors had. And, as cats are smaller in size compared to canines, it’s only normal for your doggy pals to think of them as their prey.

However, though the prey drive’s deeply embedded in their system, it’s quite rare to actually see a canine randomly attacking a feline. 

More often than not, there is a situation the cat most likely did something that triggered the dog to act aggressively towards it.

Take for instance during mealtime. As already mentioned, dogs value their food so much that they’re willing to do everything to protect it from anyone who’ll grab it from them.

Thus, they won’t take it lightly if your feline pal will disturb the pup during the most sacred moment of its day. 

Though sometimes a simple growl will be effective to ward the cat off, there are times that the situation will quickly escalate into a feisty match.

But, it’s not only during mealtime that makes canines act aggressively towards cats.

Another reason that you can attribute to this behavior is their awkward introduction.

Ideally, you have to introduce your pup to the feline in a neutral, relaxed environment. Not only that, you’ll need to make sure that both animals are calm and relaxed during their meet-up for the best results.

Yet, when you rush things up and force them to get along right at the get-go, you’ll get an unexpected result. 

As dogs are pretty sensitive to unfamiliar scents, they’ll tend to act warily around those that emit such smells. 

Hence, it’s always a good idea to place a barrier between the cat and the dog during their first meeting until they get used to each other’s presence. Also, you’ll have to reward the canine’s tolerance of the feline’s presence with food treats.

After all, positive reinforcement still is the best way to encourage the pup to get along with a cat.

Lastly, the lack of proper obedience training can create unlikely rifts between your dog and feline. Since you haven’t taught your pup the right manners whenever it encounters something unfamiliar, most likely its deeply-rooted instincts will kick in.

With this, it’s best to train your canine early on to heed commands. Words such as “Leave it,” “Stop,” and “No” all can help in preventing your doggo from lashing at any feline it’ll meet along the way.

Also, don’t forget to reward your dog with the tastiest doggy treats every time it follows your command. 


How to make a canine get along with your kitty pal

Though it’s long-decided that dogs and cats will become each other’s archnemesis, all hope isn’t lost yet. 

True, instincts are hard to control, especially in dogs. But, with the methods you’ll learn from now on, you can help your canine have better control over them and even act friendly towards your feline.

So, better start reading the following tips below so you can ensure a good start to your dog and cat’s friendship.


Let them interact in your presence

As mentioned above, it’s important that you create the right atmosphere for your canine pal’s first meeting with a cat. If possible, choose a neutral territory that’s relaxing for both animals to get to know each other more.

However, what you shouldn’t forget is that you should supervise their interaction from here onwards. If possible, ask for a relative or close friend’s help during the first meet-up.

After all, the first meeting is always the tensest among all the subsequent interactions your cat and dog will have. Thus, it’s important that you don’t leave these two animals alone in a room.

Who knows what will happen next if you’re not there the moment a fight happens.


Enroll pup in an obedience training class

While the prey drive instinct’s already part and parcel of your canine’s personality, you can’t do anything to change it.

But, you can do something to make your doggo change the way he responds whenever he sees a cat in the area. And, what better way to curb this unruly behavior in a pup is by signing him up for an obedience class.

Not only will these classes teach your pup to heed your basic commands, but they’ll also equip your canine with the proper socialization skills when interacting with animals of another species.

In short, you’ll expect that obedience classes will help your dog understand not to chase felines as soon as he lays his eyes on them.


Allow the animals to familiarize each other’s scents

Since scents are very important for both animals to get to know each other, why don’t you try swapping your canine pal and cat’s scents?

With swapping scents, it means you’ll need to let each animal be familiar with each other’s smells. You can try rubbing a towel on the cat. Once you’re done, transfer the feline’s scent on the pup in a similar manner, and vice versa.

Though it might sound bizarre at the moment, this tip can actually be effective. Just make sure you’re there to supervise the said session.


Assign a safe spot for the cat

Though you’re intending to make both animals be comfortable with each other’s presence, it’s not safe to force them to stay in the same area right at the get-go.

After all, the pup still feels wary of the cat’s presence. And, when you force them to become friends right away, you’ll get a nasty result instead.

Hence, as cats love to flee whenever they find themselves in a sticky situation, you’ll need to devise an escape route for your kitty pal. 

You don’t have to follow a specific layout. Just assign or designate an area that your feline pal can freely run to whenever your dog starts acting aggressively on her.


Give separate toys and food

Just like the tip above, you need to give your cat and dog separate things. Though you ultimately want them to end up playing together eventually, you cannot force this on them right at the start.

Thus, make sure that you give each of them their own set of toys and food bowls. As mealtime’s always the tensest situation of the day, you’ll have to make sure that your cat and dog don’t stay near each other while they’re busy munching on their food.

If possible, let them play and have their meals in separate rooms of the house to lessen any chance of hostile encounters between the two.


Avoid scolding doggo in front of the cat

Dogs, like little children, are extra sensitive to the tone of their fur parents. The moment they feel that you’re scolding or shaming them, canines will remember it as an embarrassing experience.

And, what more if you do such scolding in front of your kitty pal, right? After all, who wants to be shamed publicly for their mischief.

Thus, you can try to discipline your canine pal in a separate room or area away from the prying eyes of your cat. In this way, your dog won’t feel like you’re favoring his feline pal more.


Spend time together with them

Animal experts emphasize the importance of early socialization when raising animals from two different species. And, that notion includes your canine and feline pals as well.

Hence, if you want both a cat and a dog in your house, it’s probably best to take both when they’re still in their puppy and kitten stages.

Remember, it’s never too early to introduce these animals. Since you’re aiming for them to get along well, it’s important that they catch onto each other’s personalities and quirks at an age that they’re more amenable to new experiences.


Be patient

While you follow the above-mentioned tips to heart, you won’t achieve the result you so badly want to have if you always rush the process. 

Since you’re introducing two animals with opposing personalities, it will definitely take time before the both of them can get used to each other. 

Though it’s normal for some little quarrels to occur from time to time, it’s just your pup and cat’s way of finding out how their presence affects the other.


So, are you now more confident to let your doggy pal interact with a cat? Well, if you still aren’t a hundred percent sure you can nail down this feat, ask the help of professionals near you.

After all, a little help along the way is all you’ll need to make your pup act friendly towards your feline pal.