My clients often ask me why is it that some dogs get along fine with cats in the family, where others are determined to chase them?
Originally as predators, dogs evolved to catch and eat live prey. This instinct still exists even though we provide easy access food! It can be diverted though through training, but the instinct that makes dogs chase is still triggered by movement. By throwing a toy for your dog, you are mimicking this same activity. Why do you think some dogs are so keen on chasing balls or squeaky toys?
Some dogs chase cats for similar reasons and sometimes will kill them if they manage to catch them. For some dogs, it may just be a fun thing to do, of course, and cats can often get out of the way. Nevertheless, it can be very risky for all concerned so do seek specialist help if this describes your situation.
In families, cats and dogs can get along well, but the key is to make sure that you start when both animals are young and that this ‘chase’ is never allowed to develop. Older cats don’t always welcome young pups, and my advice is to never allow them to ‘sort it out for themselves’. I have evidence of this leading to severe injury to one or both animals.
Teach your dog to leave anything they would otherwise like to chase, and return to you. You can use toys or food to motivate them, and keep them on a lead to (gently!) steer them away if needed.