Whether cats and dogs can really get along is an age-old debate. The truth is that most dogs can learn to coexist with cats peacefully. Every dog is an individual, but some breeds will accept cats easier than others. So, are Rottweilers good with cats?
We take a look at how Rottweilers relate to cats, and if they can coexist peacefully. We discuss how to go about it, so you don’t have to worry about your pets mauling each other.
Do Rottweilers Get Along With Cats?
In general, the answer is yes. A well-socialized Rottweiler can be taught to accept a cat as part of his pack. As a smaller pack member, he’ll even see it as his responsibility to protect the cat from harm.
Rottweilers are large, powerful dogs, and many pet owners worry about their cat being mauled. But as long as your Rottweiler is introduced to other animals as a young pup, he’ll do no such thing. Chances are he’ll get along with your cat better than he does with other dogs of the same sex.
Why Might Your Rottweiler Not Get Along With Cats?
Rottweilers can be taught to get along with most animals, cats inclusive. But there is usually a bit of work involved, and it may not always work out in the end. There are a few reasons this could happen.
Rottweilers Have a Strong Prey Drive
Rottweilers naturally have a very strong drive to chase down anything that moves quickly. Your Rottweiler perceives anything that moves fast enough as prey that needs to be caught and subdued. It can include cats, who are naturally agile and quick on their feet.
If not restrained, this natural prey drive will be a big obstacle to getting your dog and cat to coexist. The Rottweiler will just keep on trying to catch the cat, culminating in injury for both pets.
Rottweilers Were Originally Herding Dogs
This breed first came about as a strong, resilient cattle-herding dog, before moving on to police work and our homes. Herding breeds are intelligent but can be stubborn. They are also wired to herd any moving animal, sometimes to the extent of herding their owners.
Rottweilers rarely go to the extent of trying to herd human beings, but they will still chase any moving thing. If this is not addressed, the dog will be a constant nightmare to the cat.
Your Cat is Tiny by Comparison
Your typical Rottweiler is a big dog, weighing anywhere from 40-60 kilos. And your average domestic cat rarely makes it beyond 5 kilos. That’s a huge size difference. You could argue that size doesn’t necessarily mean aggression, and you’d be right.
But in the animal world, there is a natural pecking order. Your Rottweiler’s size puts him way above your cat, leaving the cat feeling intimidated. It could result in the cat lashing out on principle, even though your dog hasn’t done anything to warrant aggression.
Cats Are Territorial Animals
Your cat may be small, but that doesn’t make it a push-over. Cats are, by nature, territorial animals. They will not appreciate their space being invaded by a dog, or anyone else, for that matter.
Your new Rottweiler may mean no harm, wanting only to introduce himself or play. Or he may try to bully the cat, thinking to show her who’s boss. Either way, the cat will likely not take things lying down and lash out.
You Have an Older Rottweiler Who Hasn’t Been Around Animals
If you’re acquiring a Rottweiler pup, you have every chance to socialize your dog well. But yours might be an older one coming from another home, or even a rescue dog. He may not be used to being around other animals, and may not even be at all socialized.
Such a Rottweiler will have all his natural instincts at the forefront. He’ll likely react to any cat (or other animals) by displaying aggression. In a case like this, you’ll need a lot of patience to get your dog to accept cats. There’s even a chance it may never fully work.
(Check out these 5 dogs that make great companions for rottweilers.)
How to Train Your Rottweiler to Get Along with Cats?
It is possible, in most cases, to teach your Rottweiler to get along with cats. It is true of both cats in your house and those he meets elsewhere. If your dog is older and hasn’t been well socialized, it will take longer, but can still be done. Be prepared to spend some time training your dog on a regular basis, and be patient.
Begin by Teaching Your Dog to Sit and Look
Regardless of whether your Rottweiler is a young pup or an older dog, he needs to learn the basics. Start off by teaching commands to sit and look. You will need these to be able to control your dog around cats (and other animals).
The sit command is the easiest to begin with. Get your dog’s attention with a treat. Raise the treat slowly in a low arc over and behind his head. As his eyes follow the treat, his behind will go down. Say ‘sit’ firmly but non-aggressively, and reward him with the treat. Keep practicing until the command is firm, and gradually phase out the treat.
The command to look is a brilliant way to distract your dog when necessary. Start by getting your dog to sit. Then hold a treat in front of his nose and move it in a straight line up to the bridge of your nose. Hold the treat between your eyes, say ‘look,’ and reward your dog. Keep practicing and increasing the length of the look. Ultimately, your dog should be able to stare at you for minutes at a time.
These two commands will go a long way when introducing your dog to cats. Making him sit can nip the instinct to chase in the bud. And looking at you is a way to distract him from chasing as well.
‘Learning to Ignore’ Strategy
Once your dog can sit and look on command, you can start teaching him to ignore cats. Before you can start this, however, your dog should also be comfortable walking on a collar and leash.
The idea here is to reward your dog’s calm behavior around cats, and discourage excitement. The best way to approach this is to work in a controlled environment with a friend to help you.
Start by putting your Rottweiler on his collar and leash. Have him sit next to you. Then have a friend bring a cat (crated) into the room. Let your friend and the cat remain at a distance from the dog.
If your dog remains calm, praise him and reward him for good behavior. If he instead starts lunging or barking, give a swift tug on the leash and a sharp ‘Leave It!’. Get him to look at you to distract him and calm down.
Once you have your dog sitting calmly again, have your friend bring the cat a little closer. Again, reward your dog for calm behavior. What you’re trying to do is to teach him that ignoring the cat gets him lots of praise and rewards.
Don’t expect perfection in a day or two. Take things slowly, and repeat these encounters, each time bringing the cat closer. Once your dog is no longer paying any attention to the cat, you can up your game. Start allowing the cat to roam freely around the room while supervising your dog.
Socialize Your Dog Early On
The single best way to catproof any dog is to make sure it is socialized at an early age. You may or may not have other pets in your own home when you acquire your Rottweiler. But you can still introduce him to different animals elsewhere and solve the problem before it happens.
You should teach your Rottweiler to walk on a collar and leash as soon as possible, so he can safely go out for walks. You can visit dog daycare centers and pet playgroups with your dog. It will give you pup a chance to meet plenty of other animals of all ages and sizes in a supervised, safe environment. You can also take your dog along on visits to friends that have cats.
If your dog is already older, socializing him may be harder to do. It will likely take you longer, but it’s still doable. You may want to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer to help you with this.
(Have you ever wondered how good rottweilers are with other dogs?)
Training Your Rottweiler
No matter how old your Rottweiler is, it’s always a good idea to train them, especially if you’re going to introduce them to different pets in your household. If you’re not sure how to train your rottweiler, then I highly recommend getting Brain Training For Dogs.
It’s a training program based on positive reinforcement instead of punishment. This means your dog isn’t going to fear you, and you’ll both have fun doing it! And the best part is, it’s more effective than traditional training!
If you want to find out more about Brain Training For Dogs, then you can read the review here!
How to Introduce a Cat and a Rottweiler to Each Other?
A lot here depends on your particular situation and the personalities of your pets. Do you have a young Rottweiler pup coming to a home with older cats? Or is your kitten coming to a home with a grown Rottweiler? Is your cat shy and fearful, or bold and playful? Does your Rottweiler have a very strong instinct to chase?
Depending on your circumstances, there are different approaches to introducing your pets to each other. Cats and dogs are two entirely different species, and will not necessarily get to the point of being sleep buddies. But they can usually be taught to at least tolerate each other.
The Crate Training Method
The biggest hurdle to training a dog to be calm around cats is his natural instinct to chase. One way to circumvent this is to crate either the dog or the cat. For the dog, this means some crate training. For your cat, you’ll need a carrier. You can alternate the two to give both pets a chance to get used to each other.
The crate training method can be a good option when neither pet is used to being around the other species. It can also work well when your dog is already socialized but hasn’t had a cat at home.
Crate The Dog
If the cat is already a bonafide resident and the Rottweiler is the new guy on the block, you can start by crating the dog. Drop some tasty treats and toys into the crate to encourage your dog to go in. Close the door and wait for him to settle down.
Once your dog is settled in his crate, allow the cat into the room. Let it roam around freely, taking its time to smell and meet the dog. If your Rottweiler remains calm, praise him and reward him with treats. If he starts barking and lunging, say a sharp ‘Leave It!’ and turn your back on the crate.
If all goes well, you can gradually leave the cat around your crated dog for longer periods. Eventually, you’ll be able to leave the dog uncrated around the cat.
(Find out more about crate training your rottweiler puppy.)
Put The Cat in a Carrier
Another way to approach this is to put the cat in a carrier. Place the carrier off of the floor, up on a chair or table.
Keeping our dog on his collar and leash, let him approach the carrier. Remain calm and matter-of-fact about it. If your Rottweiler remains calm and relaxed, praise him and reward him with treats. If he overreacts or gets aggressive, say a sharp ‘Leave It!’. Get him to look at you to help distract him and wait for him to calm down.
Every dog is an individual. Some will be calm from the first approach, while others may require several days or even weeks. Be patient and let time work its magic.
Once your dog is completely calm around the cat, you can let the cat out of the carrier. Keep your dog on his leash and supervise. With time, you’ll be able to let the dog off the leash too and have your pets comfortably in the same room.
It is a very slow and gradual way of introducing your dog and cat to each other. It doesn’t matter who arrived at your home first. All you need is some time to supervise, and some tall baby gates that your dog cannot jump over.
If your Rottweiler is simply too fixated on the cat, you can reduce his reaction by gradually increasing his exposure. Choose a room that your dog cannot and does not usually need to access. It could be a bathroom or spare bedroom. Fit the door securely with a tall baby gate, so your dog has no way of getting in.
Fit the room with all your cat’s necessary accessories. Her food, water, litterbox, and toys should all be there. Make doubly sure that the baby gate is also cat proof, as cats are brilliant escape artists.
Start the desensitization by allowing your dog to view the cat for a brief period. Then distract him with something else, like a play or practicing cues if he’s responding to you well, reward and praise him for being to focus elsewhere. Continue to give him more short viewings of the cat for the rest of the day.
If your dog overreacts and starts barking and lunging, close the door to the cat’s room. Then start feeding each animal at the same time, but each on their side of the door. The cat gets her food just next to the door in her room, and your dog in his room. This approach allows the two to associate each other’s presence with something pleasant- food.
You can also let each animal have a blanket or toy of the other. It will help them get used to each other’s smells, even when they can’t access each other directly. Either way, don’t force the issue. Let the process take its own time.
For some dogs, this desensitization takes mere hours. But dogs are individuals, and some may take weeks or even months. Whatever the case, be sure to always supervise to avoid any accidents and injuries.
What to Avoid Doing?
We’ve discussed some approaches to introducing your dog and cat to each other. To ensure the best chances of success, though, there are some things you should avoid.
Don’t Leave Your Cat Stranded
When a dog and cat are put together, the dog is the more likely aggressor. When introducing your dog to a cat, always leave the cat an escape route. It doesn’t matter whether the cat is the new one in the house or the other way round. It should have access to some perches or cubbies that the dog cannot reach.
Don’t Yell at Either Pet
Things may go wrong when you first introduce your dog and cat to each other. You may need to restrain the dog, but please do so judiciously. Raising your voice, acting nervously, or being aggressive will only make the situation worse. You will frighten and confuse both pets.
Are Rottweilers good with cats? Every dog is an individual, and circumstances can make a huge difference. But contrary to popular belief, yes, Rottweilers can get along with cats quite well. They can be taught to accept them as pack members, and will even protect them from harm.
Socializing your Rottweiler early on and exposing him to cats and other animals is the single best way to catproof him. With a little bit of training and patience on your part, even an older Rottweiler can override his prey instinct and come to accept cats.