new puppy and skittish cats!

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new puppy and skittish cats!

This is a discussion on new puppy and skittish cats! within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I recently adopted a puppy from a neighboring state. The rescue told me he was cat tested, and that he was interested, but 'didn't really' ...

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Old 12-07-2015, 05:35 PM
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new puppy and skittish cats!

I recently adopted a puppy from a neighboring state. The rescue told me he was cat tested, and that he was interested, but 'didn't really' chase or anything, and forgot about the cats when they left the room. I did tell them I have one skittish cat, so was a bit worried about the 'chase' comment.

We decided to go ahead, as a friend of mine is closely associated with this rescue, and I trust her. I picked him up last weekend. He is more than just interested...he's fixated!

He chases all the cats (I have four). All my cats have lived with dogs their entire lives, so they are dog savvy (my dog passed away in May). The puppy has never been around cats outside of the test, and was only tested once, about a month before I got him (he was roughly 12 weeks at the time). He was fostered with several big dogs, so he plays rougher than most puppies may.

I keep him on-leash in the house, and kenneled when I'm not home, and I have been working with two different trainers. I have always had cats and dogs at the same time (at one time 3 large dogs and 4 cats), but none of my previous dogs chased cats...ever...so this is all a bit disconcerting. The youngest cat handles the puppy-ness much better than the other three cats, though she still scoots when she sees him coming, most times. One of the cats hasn't come out of her closet since I brought the puppy home and he started lunging at her. So, now instead of one skittish cat, I have three!

He doesn't seem aggressive (although I can't tell what would happen if he'd catch one of the cats), as far as growling and barking. He will lunge at the baby gate and bark, but that seems to be more of a barrier frustration issue?

I'm kind of at my wits end. One of the cats has started having behavioral issues (she's peeing on stuff), and I no matter what I try it's one step forward and three back. I'm wondering if having so many cats is just overwhelming for him. I think he'd be ok with one cat, eventually, or maybe a cat and a dog, so the dog could distract him? But I need to find a way to introduce some peace into my home, before the cats go insane. Plus, the puppy shouldn't have to be crated forever!

Does anyone have any suggestions? I know it's only been a short time, but nothing I'm trying is working, and I'm becoming concerned for my resident cats.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:37 PM
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i was in the same situation with my pup Ben. my cats are used to dogs, but he is a young hound, and it was a disaster to start with... i thought this is never going to work, and he will never get used to the cats.... so for the first few weeks, i let them look at each other from afar, and separated, by windows etc. i allso have a dog run in the garden, so they could see each other but not get to each other. i found Ben was only really triggerd when the cats was trying to escape or running off fast.
one of my Persians and one moggy are quite dosile, and it was more a case of they couldnt be botherd anymore, so they came round first. then my persian tom cat came round, its just little lilly, who is not sure yet. but im sure it will come in time.
i still have to reign Ben in sometimes, when he gets to over exited with them, but i guess it will come in time. persevere, and dont expect to much straight away. it will all slot into place one day soon.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:44 PM
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Give it a little time. My dog Katie (she passed away) was a Doberman. She liked to play with my cats but she never hurt them. She would run at them and act like she was going to get them and then run away. She enjoyed playing with them. Give your puppy and cats some time and see what happens. I think once they get used to each other they will probably be okay.
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Old 12-07-2015, 07:57 PM
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I have five cats and my youngest dog is almost 11 months. I got her when she was 10 weeks old. I'd say last of the cats are just starting to really settle and stop hissing at her. Though two of the cats will still get out of the way when they see her coming. They normally jump onto the table or a chair. One of the best things I can recommend is to teach your pup leave it. When Freyja is eyeing a cat I tell her leave it and she is good about leaving them alone. Though a running cat is always a temptation. Give them time and have some place the cats can get to that the puppy can't.
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Old 12-09-2015, 02:22 PM
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This training helped with ours.
Diamonds in the Ruff
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Old 12-10-2015, 01:23 PM
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Introducing Dogs and Cats | Jackson Galaxy


I would not in anyway force your cats into dealing with the dog, I would never put a cat in a crate to do introductions or anything else unless they were completely comfortable with the dog which is highly unlikely in this case.

Jackson Galaxy actually likes and knows cats, so I would go with his suggestions, as it keeps the cats feeling as safe and comfortable as possible during what is a difficult time for them.


Try a google search on introducing cats and dogs, cat dog introductions etc., keeping in mind you need to use your best judgement.

Hope this helps, from one cat lover who also loves dogs to another.
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:04 PM
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Thank you!!!
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Old 12-15-2015, 01:56 PM
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I should write a post on this - I successfully intro'd an anxious but sometimes fierce cat & a big dog with EXTREMELY high prey drive. Stay tuned, I'll draft something up! It was a long process (months) but we eventually got to the point where they snuggle sleep together!
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Old 12-22-2015, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by newdoggirl View Post
I should write a post on this - I successfully intro'd an anxious but sometimes fierce cat & a big dog with EXTREMELY high prey drive. Stay tuned, I'll draft something up! It was a long process (months) but we eventually got to the point where they snuggle sleep together!
Would love to hear your experiences. (& snuggly pics), somewhere I have video of Dynamo doing dog-spa services on Riker, must find.
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:52 PM
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I successfully intro'd my dog & cat. The dog has an EXTREMELY high prey drive and the cat is a bit anxious and was definitely not excited to have the dog around. It took a long time but they've been great now for about 3 years. The key is not to rush them and never force the cat to be around the dog.

*Warning..this is a long post for what could be a very tedious/long/stressful process. But, it worked. I'm not a trainer but I read a lot and this is the solution that I came up with that worked for my kiddos.*

Step 1: Separation
First, separate them by a baby gate. Ideally, it's a gate they can see each other through easily & is screwed into the door frame (for their safety and this will ensure the gate never gets knocked down). The area near the gate has to be all about positive behaviour. No form of bad behaviour is acceptable near the gate and (in the case of an anxious, not aggressive cat) if there is bad behaviour by either party, the dog is the one that needs to learn to move away. If the cat is aggressive, your job will be much harder but I still believe it's possible..more on that later. For now, we'll assume the dog is the one with the bad manners

When dog goes out for walks, cat can be allowed to roam freely around the house, as long as you can safely get cat back into her gated space when dog comes home.

Step 2: Building Positive Associations for Cat
Now that they are separated in their own safe spaces, I would put a blanket or toy of the dog's in the cat area so that she can start smelling and familiarizing herself with dog. You can even give her treats near the dog's smell. She might not go for it right away..give her time. The goal is that she learns that the smell of dog can be a positive thing.

In the cat's gated area, you should also move her food up to a secure dresser or table top, etc. This will start teaching the cat to climb up for food so that, in the future when there is no gate, cat knows she has a safe place to eat without worrying about dog. It also provides her a nice bit of extra exercise

Step 3: Friendly Gate Visits
I would then start visitation sessions near the gate by sitting on the floor on the dog side of the gate and calling the cat over.

Cat might not approach the first few times but with any luck and possible some extra motivation (treats), she'll start coming by the gate.

As the cat approached, I would tell the dog to "sit" and then "lay down". When the dog shows good, calm behaviour near the gate, reward. Same goes for the cat. If the cat comes near the gate and shows positive behaviour, reward (with treats or verbal commands). If the dog begins to get too excited when the cat is near the gate, move the dog to another area and repeat "leave it" command. Try again later.

If the dog is getting too amped up even just being in front of the gate, I would leash dog in the house somewhere securely away from the gate until she was calm. As soon as she was calm, I would unleash dog and repeat as necessary. Our dog was very receptive to training this way so this lasted not even a day before she got the hint. Some people will argue that this isn't good training because it's essentially punishing the dog for bad behaviour rather than just ignoring it but in my view, hunting the cat is completely unacceptable and ignoring this type of behaviour wasn't a risk I was willing to take.

Step 4: Preparing Dog for Open Cat Time
Next, I wanted to establish a command with the dog that redirects its attention & teaches self control in an even more structured way to prepare for future interactions when there is no gate.

I did this by teaching the dog to "go to your place". I would repeat "go to your place" and then say "good place" when the dog got there (a dog bed), reinforcing with treats and rewarding her "stay".

Eventually, you can use "leave it" and, if needed, "go to your place" if the dog gets too excited near the gate.

This gate visitation phase & "go to your place" training went on for a couple weeks. Yes, weeks..probably not what you want to hear but slow and effective is better, especially with cats.

Step 5: Open Gate Cat Time
Once the dog showed consistently good behaviour and self control around the cat with the gate, we started leashed, open cat times. Open cat time means, the gate is open and the cat is free to roam and the dog is leashed to you. The cat gets to wander around the home and the dog has to practice self control. When cat is out, dog remains long leashed to you and is asked to "lay down". If the dog gets excited, you can say "go to your place" and bring the dog to it's place. If still too excited, move the cat back to cat's gated area, continue with Step 1 and try Step 2 another time.


Step 6: Testing Open Dog & Cat Time
Once the dog shows self control while leashed to you and is able to follow commands while the cat is roaming around freely, we began to test open cat & dog time where the gate is open, cat is free to roam and dog is off leash.

During this time, it's very important to stay near the dog and ensure you either have a collar or untethered leash on the dog so that you can easily gain control if needed. Just because dog learned to behave on a leash, does not mean dog will behave off leash. This is very important to remember.

I found the most success by teaching the dog that she had to stay in "her place" while the cat is roaming about. If the dog couldn't follow this command while the cat is out and about, I would separate them, go back to the previous step and try again later.

Eventually, dog learned that she had to stay in her place when the cat was around.
Then, I started leaving more space between dog and I to see that she could control her impulses while I wasn't right next to her and eventually we moved to the final phase.

Step 7: Take the gate down!
Finally, the gate was staying open longer and longer and eventually, we took it down!

Just remember, it might take more or less time depending on their unique personalities but it can be done! Just be patient (really, really patient) and be consistent with your training.

If you have any questions, ask away! Otherwise, good luck!
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