Teaching a Catahoula Cur Mix to Stop Hunting the Cats in His Home

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 21, 2016


Angus is a five-year-old Pointer Catahoula Cur mix who moved into a new home with his guardian a few months ago. Since moving, Angus has started to hunt the cats that live in his new home and is showing some protective behaviors around his guardian.

When I arrived for the session, the guardian had Angus on a leash and she was pulling him back. While this is almost instinctive for many people, pulling or holding a dog back with a constant motion usually causes the dog to pull against you. Something else that happens is the intensity of the dog’s reaction to the new arrival is intensified as some of the energy the dog uses when pulling gets transferred to their energy level. In this wrong situation or with someone who reacts the wrong way, this can cause the dog to get into trouble.

The guardian would be better served to use the movement communication methods I showed her later in the session to place herself between the dog and the arriving guests and march at the dog until it backs up a good 7+ feet from the door before opening it. By controlling the dog’s behavior, proximity and energy level before opening the door, her guardian can assume the leadership role in this activity.

After sitting down with the guardian and a few relatives, I learned that Angus didn’t have many rules that he was asked to follow. Additionally the guardian lavished him with so much petting and attention, the dog had gotten the impression it was almost his right.

I made a number of suggestions such as Petting with a Purpose, adding and enforcing rules to develop structure and how to communicate with the dog using body language and movement. Often dogs who start engaging in actions and behaviors their guardians don’t want do so because they believe they have the same rights and authority as the humans.

Changing a dog’s daily routine to incorporate structure and discipline is a great way to change this leadership perspective in the dog. My goal is to get the dog to see itself as a follower in the relationship; the same way a child looks to his or her parents for guidance and leadership.

After going over all of these things and practicing a few exercises that will help Angus develop the ability to control himself, we were ready to go into the bedroom the cats had retreated to in an effort to get away from Angus.

I was very happy with this interaction. The work we did before coming upstairs gave Angus the skills he needed to succeed in this encounter. Another way we put the dog into a position to succeed was the way he entered the room. I had his guardian come up the stairs with the dog on the leash, pausing at multiple points as he got closer to the bedroom. This gradual process ensured that the dog was in a calm and balanced state of mind before it entered the room.

If in the future, Angus shows excitement or anxiety when approaching the cat’s bedroom, the guardian will need to stop and wait until he is in a calm and balanced frame of mind before continuing. The guardian can supplement this approach by making sure the dog gets a decent amount of exercise an hour or so before practicing this activity.

The game plan is to first change the leader follower dynamic so the dog respects the authority of his guardian and identifies as being in a follower position. Once that is the case then the guardian can have the dog practice being in the room with the cats in a calm and controlled setting. The leash ensures that the handler has sufficient control to give the dog a pause when walking towards the room and once inside, so that the cats stay safe.

By the end of the session, Angus was laying completely calm a couple of feet away from one of the cats he had previously been hunting. He was starting to look to his human for guidance when he wasn’t sure what to do and his energy was beautifully peaceful. If his guardian can adopt the leader role and consistently practice having the dog spend time calmly with the cats, his days of hunting should be numbered.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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