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my dog is living in a cat's house...


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#1 MikeG

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:58 AM

Hello all,

My pup Luigi is a great little guy. Besides his everlasting craziness, it amazes me how smart he is and how fast he learns. He is 9 months old at the moment.
He has finally learned to relax when indoors, to a certain extent, but I am having an issue with him getting too excited with my cats.

We have a 5yr old tabby, and a 4yr old tuxedo barn cat. They have been with us since they were a few weeks old, both are fromthe local SPCA.

Now Luigi and the tabby get along OK, but he has recently become a little too rough with her. "Leave it!" usually works, but sometimes I need to pull her out of the room and put her somewhere safe because he is so rough.

He and the tuxedo cat do not get along at all,
They don't even like being in the same room as one another...ironic because they are both black and white =)
Even at night, if she walks in the room he gets very upset and will sometimes bark and scare her away...which bothersme because she is my snuggle buddy.

The last thing I want is either the dog or the cats to not feel comfortable in their own house.
Any suggestions on how to calm him down or at least get him more comfortable with the cats and not think they are evil/toys to play with?
I searched the forum, but it is hard to pinpoint a thread on this issue.

Any help will do, thank you!

#2 Shetlander

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 01:41 PM

Sorry, your post seems to have been missed. I just noticed it today. Definitely you want to work on this behavior right away. I wouldn't worry about Luigi not feeling comfortable in his own house, From what you write, he is feeling plenty comfortable. It is the cats I would be concerned about both now and in the future if things escalate.

Since I can not observe Luigi and the cats, it is hard to say whether he is playing too rough with them, sees them as potential prey, or is resource guarding you, furniture, the room, etc.

I have not had this particular issue, but there are others on this board who have so hopefully they will chime in. Quinn has a tendency to play too rough with my other dogs and I used to interrupt their play, either stopping it completely or having Quinn lie down to ratchet down his enthusiasm. He eventually learned to lie down on his own when the play started to get boisterous, though I still sometimes need to have him down or tell him the game is over (he'll be 7 years old next month).

When Luigi does things like bark at your cat or get too rough, I would not remove the cat. I would remove Luigi or put him in a long down with a toy to chew on (and reward with quiet praise and the occasional treat). If the behavior was especially bad, I would be inclined to give him a brief time out (5-15 minutes), then bring him out to try again, setting him up with a toy and a spot to quietly mind his own business. I'd put him on leash so I could interrupt any attempts to start things up with the cats.

At the same time, recognizing that this is a chronic problem and the good thing about chronic problems is you get lots of chances to fix them, I would want to do some clicker training to teach a new default behavior with the cats other than being too rowdy/barking/etc. A book I think is fantastic for this is Click to Calm by Emma Parsons. It is marketed for aggressive dogs, but is a great clicker primer and I have used the techniques with a lot of success with all my dogs on a few different issues. Sometimes I use a clicker. Often I just use a verbal marker "yes" instead of a clicker.

I would train "watch me," then when Luigi had that cue (doesn't take long, believe me), I would start giving that cue in the face of increasing distractions until I was saying "watch me" whenever a cat entered the room. To help prevent self-reinforcing behavior of playing, chasing, barking, I would start out by having Luigi on leash while we worked on "watch me" with the cats present and I clicked and treated for looking at me rather than the cat. I would then transition the session into "you need to lie here and play with/chew quietly on your toy/bone," again keeping him on leash so he couldn't reward himself by going after one of the cats. And if things became too much for him, I would separate him from the situation so he didn't practice the wrong behavior (barking, being rough, being overly excited, etc.) You could bring him back out to try again in a bit, or only bring him out when the cats aren't there for him to pester.

Another technique that may help is Bar Open/Bar Closed. For Luigi, this would mean good things (food, attention) happen when the cat appears and as soon as the cat moves away, leaves the room, the good things stop. The dog then associates getting food and attention with the cat being there, which may help with tensions between him and the tuxedo cat, and also keeps him focused on you.

I highly recommend the book Click to Calm if you are at all interested in clicker training. Another book that several really like is Control Unleashed which takes a different approach, such as rewarding the dog for looking at whatever is stimulating him, rather than for looking at you. I haven't used that book but lots of people swear by it.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head. Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions. Good luck!

Liz


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#3 brndlbc

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Posted 19 May 2012 - 03:59 PM

We have had a multiple dog/cat household for numerous years and for the most part things have worked extremely well but we do currently have one of our cats (14 years old) who hates every breath our GSD takes and has done so for 8 years the dog has been with us. Like many with multi species households, we have created an unnatural environment for our pets in the fact that they can not disperse from each other like they possibly would given the choice. We therefor have created dog free zones in the house where the cats are free to go but the dogs are restricted. This allows the cats to make choices on how much "dog" they wish to put up with. The cats know they can control the situation, which they like, and it helps cut down on the tension. The dogs have also learned how far they can push the cats before the cats up and leave so if you want to play with the cats, play nice and they may play back...unless you are a GSD in which case you can just die.


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