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Highly strung dog living and getting on with cats

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by PinkEars, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. PinkEars

    PinkEars PetForums VIP

    Jun 4, 2010
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    Hi all

    I have a situation that i was hoping you may be able to help me with. This is one of many but maybe this is a start.

    I have a highly strung American cocker/Jack Russel. She loves to play fetch...she loves to chase.

    My first issue is how do I stop her chasing bikes, runners and cats? She comes when she is called but if any of these things gets in her eyeline she will be off and yes after a few calls she will come back but usually after she has jumped in front of said thing and barked at them.

    My second issue is I am moving house soon with my partner and dog. My partners x kept her 2 cats. One is an Exotic and one is Persian which are very timid cats and live indoors all the time. Her x can no longer keep her cats so my partner either has to find a home for them or we have to take them in. I love these cats too and if it wasnt for the fact that i have Lola (the dog i speak of lol) i would take them in straight away.

    Has any of you ever lived in a situation where you have had to home highly stung dog that is excited by cats with cats who are very timid and not used to other cats dogs etc. They did used to live with a dog for a few months however he was very well behaved and did not get excited by them or chase them.

    So my question is can this work? does anyone have any experience with this? Any advice at this stage would be great! Any advice on introducing them to each other? I took Lola around there house last week and just stood in the garden with them with the patio closed. When Lola saw them she got excited and starts squeeling which of course scares the cats. She has become less like this with the cat downstairs but that is a normal outside cat that is used to dogs, cats cars etc.


  2. Mum2Heidi

    Mum2Heidi PetForums VIP

    Feb 17, 2010
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    Hopefully you will get some more concrete help and advice along in a mo but these are my similar circumstances.

    We had Heidi as a 9wk old pup (not had a pup in about 20+ years) westie x J russell. Already had 2 x 11 yr old cats, one v fiery the other afraid of his own shadow and always runs. Initially it wasnt too bad as Heidi was v small. I let my cat (the fiery one) put Heidi in her place OH was against it because Heidi could lose an eye and Tigger (his cat) was held back. As Heidi got older the urge grew stronger. Rosie would always turn and lash out, Tigger run for all he was worth with Heidi chasing if she could.

    The first thing I found that worked was distraction, with a favourite toy, or a treat worked but it meant nipping it in the bud so always being vigil. It was hard work but even now "where's your ball"? and starting a game does the trick.

    We than progressed to sit/leave her favourite ball. Throw it but dont allow her to fetch until we say but ringing the changes between fetching straight away and "sit/leave". She will now sit/leave the cats but still if Tigger is in full flight, I cant stop her. That only happens v occasionally now.

    Another thing we have done it to get her focused on us and not her ball/toy. Get eye contact and reward it before throwing.

    A game of tug has helped her control her over enthusiastic behaviour. We started gently asking her to leave quite quickly, get eye contact and start again. Building to her getting more excited and then asking to leave. At first I was dead against tug as I felt it would teach her all the bad habits I want to avoid but it was suggested here and has been invaluable.

    I think I will always have to be 2 steps ahead but there is definate improvement and she is only young so who knows. The cats have the run of the house except bedrooms and Heidi the kitchen/diner/conservatory which helps.

    When we are out I think she would possibly listen and leave but we have had an experience of her chasing a neighbour's cat and coming back wearing their cat flap so I tend to err on the side of caution and put her on the lead if I'm not sure.

    On the up side, I can put a plate of our food on the floor and she wont touch it, I just wish she would treat the cats the same. Altho I have caught her cuddled up to Tigger on the sofa a couple of times and out in the garden :thumbup:

    Good luck x
  3. dee o gee

    dee o gee PetForums VIP

    May 22, 2010
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    I have a terrier that loves to chase strange cats outside but has gotten used to living with our cat. I think they tend to get used to any cats living in the house and accept them as their own but still view strange cats as something to chase.
    As long as it is only harmless chasing and not aggressive chasing then I wouldn't worry too much. For the first meeting have the dog in a crate or on a lead, and give plenty of space for the cats to run away, preferably somewhere up high as thats where they feel most comfortable. Teaching a reliable sit, leave it and get into bed is very useful. A lot of it depends on the cat, a nervous cat that is more likely to run will be viewed as something fun to chase, whereas a more confident cat that will just sit there or give him a few clatters across the face he will most likely just ignore.

    My cat is very nervous, and my dog is a typical terrier that has a high prey drive. I had the cat before I introduced the dog, for the first while she was terrified of him so he kept chasing her, the turning point came when she settled down and stopped running away from him and started giving him the odd paw across the face, so he stopped chasing her. When he gets excited she still gets the odd chase now and again, but I can stop it by just telling him to get into bed. Anyone who knew charlie before I got him (he was a rescue) cannot believe that he lives happily with a cat! :D I even have pics of the two of them sharing a bed together! :thumbup:
  4. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

    Feb 12, 2009
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    I am not sure what you mean by highly strung - do you mean your dog is hyper or nervous or aggressive or what!
    The chasing things, there are different ways of dealing with this which all rely on you being very vigilant and getting your timing right. You can either punish or avert. So you could have a water spray bottle and spray the dog as soon as it starts to look at whatever it is about to chase. Or you could attract his attention and play with a toy at the same stage. Or you could sit the dog and either give toy or titbits. No doubt someone will mention clicker training but it is not something I know anything about. The idea is to make the dog think that when it sees a bicycle or whatever it is a good idea to stay with you, whether because it will get water in its face and it will be unpleasant to move away or preferably because as soon as it sees the object it wants to chase something wonderful appears from you so it is far better to stay with you.

    As far as the cats go, if he is really cat mad nothing might work but a lot of dogs only chase strange cats and are fine with their 'own' cats in their home. Could you get the cats on trial and see if it works out.
  5. PinkEars

    PinkEars PetForums VIP

    Jun 4, 2010
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    Hi there thanks very much for all of your responses!

    She is highly strung hyper and can be aggressive especially towards other dogs when on the lead. She has been known to jump in front of a bike or nip at the bikers legs. I have had a behaviour therapist out a good few months ago now who i am still in contact with and she has improved 100%. Initially she was aggressive with anxiety of being left....so when i would leave the room nevermind the flat she would bolt to the door and start aggresively barking and biting at me. Now this has approved alot and if she runs at the door at all i just let her through and coax her back with a treat and calmly leave and generally there is no issues.

    We also had issues with jealousy and was always getting inbetween my partner and i this has generally subsided but you still see signs of it.

    I have tried the distraction thing when it comes to off the lead walking and stopping her chasing something but the only thing i can take with me is tastey treats as she is ball obbsessive! I used to take it and if she got in any trouble whip it out and she would come running no problems. Then she started getting very obsessed with it and although would let me have it-loves to play fetch if any dogs came near the ball she would get very aggressive and attack them. It would also be difficult to get her to let me put her halty on when the walk was over as before the ball and now she comes back and sits for a treat but with the ball she would ignore the treats and not get close enough for me to put her hali on.

    Last night i took her for a walk on the usual field...she was being good as gold! I was walking round with a big smile on my face as this would have been 3 days in a row that i had had no agressive incidents when out. She played with other dogs etc and was all fine. She was running a little further away than usual but always coming back when i called her...then she spotted this beautiful blonde cocker spaniel, she sprinted off after her, i called her back and she came and then went off to her again. They played beautiful tumbling over each other and playing chase. The guy had a ball that he was playing with, normally i walk away from this situation as she gets aggressive but as they were playing so nicely i started chatting to the guy watching them both chase the ball and the cocker bring it back....just as im saying to the guy " I can't believe how good she is being, she obviously really likes her they are are playing so nicely" big smile on my face. Lola gets the ball and brings it back, lets go of it and the other dog went for and Lola gets aggressive and start barks and nipping at her. I managed to grab her relatively easily and broke it up, the guy walked off and was fine!!! This cocker was so lovely though, I put Lola back on the lead and walked up towards them off the field and the cocker came running over to us dispite the previous incident all waggy, Lola again fine until she jumped up at me got jealous so she snapped! I was no longer a happy bunny! lol

    Anyway this moves away from the subject slightly I was just trying to explain a bit of the background to give you an idea of her temperment.

    90% of the time she is lovely but there is always that aggressive tendancy there. We will all be moving to the house at the same time so really its no ones teritary although Lola will of course no that some of the things there are hers. The cats as they are exotic/persian are very timid and don't really jump up high much. We would seperate initially dog on ground floor and cats on 1st floor and even after years i think if it worked out than when we were out we would leave them like that.

    So thanks again for all your responses, any more advice would be great of how you introduced them etc and both success and unsuccessful stories would be great? Always good to have both sides!
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