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New rescue puppy and cats

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by RunningMojo, Sep 19, 2013.


  1. RunningMojo

    RunningMojo PetForums Newbie

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    Hello,

    We just got our new rescue puppy on Monday, she's an 8 month old collie cross. We've never had a dog before and although I've done tons of research, the reality is never the same!

    I have two cats who are not used to dogs, but they are fairly laid back characters. They have a safe retreat upstairs and so far they don't seem that bothered about the dog's appearance.

    Anyway, the dog's initial introduction to the cats was good- they stood their ground, one of them gave her a bop on the nose. But now she wants to spend a lot of time staring through the stairgate or the catflap waiting for them as if she's stalking them and she's tried to chase them a couple of times (once I had her lead and once she was in her crate).

    What's the best thing to do in this situation? I'm trying to call her away and treat her if she pays attention to me instead of the cats but the cats are a big distraction. Am I doing the right thing? Any tips gratefully received.
     
  2. sbonnett76

    sbonnett76 PetForums Senior

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    There are quite a few threads kicking around with lots of advice on dog / cats. This is what I posted in the last one:

    When Roxy first arrived, I could have a big, juicy sausage in front of her nose and she would point blank ignore it if there was a cat around. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was more interesting than a cat ... two cats were like all of her Christmases at once!

    It took a lot of time, but we worked on the "watch" command and Roxy's general obedience. The obedience and bond outside of the home can really impact control inside the home. We also didn't set our sights too high. We ditched the dreams of Roxy and the cats snuggling up together in bed and started to work on one step at a time, the first being to be able to distract Roxy every time the cats were around. She too went mental in the crate when the door was shut and the cats were there, but she was rewarded with really high value treats if she calmed or would follow a simple command e.g. Watch, sit or down. We'd also give her a chew to distract her for a couple of minutes.

    These crate times were never too long. As soon as we thought that Roxy was becoming too aroused, we'd encourage the cats out of the room and let Roxy out. The trick is little and often ... Start with a couple of minutes a few times a day.

    It's also not all about working with the dog. Remember to reward the cat as well if it's being brave.

    It will take time, but don't give up hope. We still aren't living that original dream, but the cats now wonder around downstairs and sometimes will even jump on my lap in the lounge for a cuddle with Roxy in the same room. Don't get me wrong, Roxy is still very interested, but she doesn't move now and after a while, will even settle down. Wherever the cats are, we can also bring Roxy away to us and that sausage is now much more interesting than a cat.

    We will never, ever trust her around them. If a cat is passing her and she's too close or standing over it, we will remove her immediately and we still have the gate at the bottom of the stairs, which will remain there. We've had Roxy for 2 years in November and it's 100 times better than it was.

    Oh, and try to remain calm and patient. Both animals will pick up on your stress and that will make matters worse. If you feel yourself getting in a pickle, put the cat out of the way and everyone take some time out.

    You can buy short training leads from most pet shops. I know Pets at Home sell them, but to be honest, we didn't waste the money. We just used Roxy's normal lead.


    Some of that may not be relevant to you as it was for a specific problem, but the basics are the same - never let the puppy chase the cat (use a lead if necessary), ensure the cats have a safe place to go away from the puppy and work on distracting the puppy using the watch and leave commands.
     
  3. RunningMojo

    RunningMojo PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you, that's really helpful :)
     
  4. RunningMojo

    RunningMojo PetForums Newbie

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    Well, there's no progress yet (which I was expecting, early days and all that) but my DH thinks we should change tactics. At the moment I am trying not to let the dog stare at the cats all the time, trying to get her to pay attention to me instead. Obviously this is taking a lot of work and we spend the majority of our time in the house trying to get her attention. Sometimes we have to crate her just to get a break because it's so constant.

    DH is getting peed off with it and thinks that constantly trying to keep her away from the stairgate and catflap is stressing me out. His idea is to just ditch the stairgate and let the dog and cats sort themselves. I think this is a terrible idea and want to carry on as we are, but he doesn't want to spend the whole evening trying to persuade the dog to stop staring at/trying to get at the cats.

    Is staring a problem? I think she just wants to play (obv the cats don't), she's not aggressive. Should I just let her stare up the stairs or out of the catflap at the cats or carry on trying to get her away?

    Thanks for any words of wisdom.
     
  5. sbonnett76

    sbonnett76 PetForums Senior

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    It took us a good year to get our cats and dog to a stage where they seemed to find a happy medium so you and your other half are expecting way too much, way too soon if you think you'll see any change in a week!

    I would absolutely continue to call the dog away if you feel that his staring is becoming too intense. It doesn't matter how many times you have to do this. We now do let Roxy watch the cats, but we never, ever let her get to the point of being fixated on them. Sometimes, one of the cats will be asleep at the top of the stairs and Roxy will be at the bottom and she'll go to sleep as well. That is fine, both animals are relaxed, but if she starts whining or won't look away, she's called away immediately and taken out of sight.

    A lot of people think that the old fashioned way of letting them sort it out between them is still the best way, but personally, I'd rather go through what we have with working it out than come home to find cat parts scattered around the house and a tail hanging out of Roxy's mouth. :rolleyes:
     
  6. RunningMojo

    RunningMojo PetForums Newbie

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    Oops, I meant that no progress just yet was what I was expecting, not that I was expecting progress- am a flummoxed at the mo! I think DH thought it was going to be less work though.

    She does get fixated on the cats and I'll continue to try calling her off- thanks for the advice :) She was happily practising some of her basic obedience with me in the garden earlier knowing that a cat was there so she can ignore them if she wants to. I think it's going to cost me a lot in sausages before we can properly relax in the evenings though :D

    Is it OK to put her in her crate if she gets too intense with the cats so she can calm down a bit? I've read mixed things about the use of crates. She's happily in there at night and during our meal times.
     
  7. sbonnett76

    sbonnett76 PetForums Senior

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    If she's already focusing on you when she knows the cats are around, that's a really big step forward. You just need to proof that and have her attention in every possible environment.

    There are mixed opinions on the crate. Personally, it worked well for us. Roxy loved her crate and after we'd weaned her out of it at night (do bear in mind that she wasn't a puppy), which was always our intention once she'd settled because it was so bloody big and took up half the kitchen, we moved it into the lounge and covered it so it became a den for her and also so she could only see out the front so the cats could actually be half way into the room before she'd spot them. She'd take herself off into it and normally, when the cats would appear, she'd already be inside so we'd just close the door. She would automatically perk up and would get excited, but the cats seemed to know that they were safe, which developed their confidence. We would also give Roxy a chew or some treats to distract her. At the point where she was getting a bit too excited / reactive, we'd call it a day, encourage the cats out and let Roxy out so as not to wind her up more than necessary.

    The crate is now in the loft (although I'm sure Roxy would have it back in a heartbeat!) as we have no need for it now.
     
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