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How do I get my dog to stop chasing cats?

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Snickers

I'm a 50-pound- lapdog :)
 
 
Barked: Sat Jul 24, '10 10:00am PST 
I currently have one dog, Snickers, who is a golden retriever/Chow mix. We've had him for about a year and whenever he sees one of our (2) cats, he has to chase them. He has not shown any bit of aggression towards them or anyone else for that matter. He is a fairly active dog and just likes to run around and play. Part of that playing is chasing the cats around the house. When he gets really close he just sniffs their butt or gets smacked by the cats. He's probably been smacked thousands of times but it does not stop him from chasing them. I've taught him to "leave it" and it works on everything except chasing the cats. If I have a plate of food, I say "leave it" and he just backs up and leaves. He is actually very good at it. However, when he sees the cats entering the room, he takes off towards the cats like its a game. "Leave it" does not help.

The cats have a "safe room" (the bedroom), which helps them. However, I cannot get this chasing under control. A few years back, my cats lived with a large (100+ lbs) German Sheppard/Rottweiler so I know they can live very comfortably with a dog. Now, since every time they see Snickers he is running full-speed towards them, their natural reaction is to defend themselves, even though I doubt he would ever (intentionally) injure the cats. He is just very playful.

Does anyone have any good ideas on how to stop this behavior? I've used primarily "positive reinforcement" for his other training and would like to continue with these methods. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you, in advance.
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Snickers

I'm a 50-pound- lapdog :)
 
 
Barked: Sun Sep 26, '10 1:33pm PST 
Wow, I got so many responses to my post. Thanks for all the help everyone.
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