Dog Killed a Neighbor’s Cat! Are my Kids in Danger?

Last week my dog killed a neighbor’s cat in our yard. I knew he liked to chase cats and squirrels, but I never thought he would catch or hurt one. He just picked it up and shook it. It was over in the blink of an eye, and he didn’t even seem to care. Now I’m worried that he might hurt one of my kids. Does he know the difference? ~ Sheila

I think all dogs should be prevented from chasing kids, but that said, it’s unlikely that your dog would cause serious injury to a child in the same way he went after the cat. Since your dog lives with children, he’s used to the sounds and movements they make in play.

With the cat, he probably shifted into “predatory drift” in which chasing a small animal triggered an instinctual “chase, bite, shake, kill” sequence. This rarely happens unless the fleeing animal is significantly smaller than the dog. Since kids are far larger than cats (and most dogs!), the risk is much lower.

Make sure that you are always supervising when your dog is outside to prevent him from harming another cat, and if you still have concerns, ask a dog trainer to assess your dog.

About the Author

Living with kids and dogs is a lot of work! But when things are going well, a dog can be your child's best friend. That experience is a wonderful gift for any child and well worth the effort involved. Got a question? Let's talk!

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