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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We adopted a dog from the shelter 2 months ago. He's sweet, but definitely has some prey drive. He will go after our cats if he gets the chance - so we have to keep them separated. Any time he sees them he barks like crazy. I'm really worried that this behavior will never change. Hoping there are success stories out there...
 

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We adopted a dog from the shelter 2 months ago. He's sweet, but definitely has some prey drive. He will go after our cats if he gets the chance - so we have to keep them separated. Any time he sees them he barks like crazy. I'm really worried that this behavior will never change. Hoping there are success stories out there...
With the training from this site my dogs learned to be calm around the cats. They spent so much time with them there was no interest after a while. You keep your dog on a leash in the same room with the cats. When the dog is calm and ignoring the cat you give a treat. It takes time but its worth it.
Diamonds in the Ruff
 

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Yes--see avatar.
That was Dynamo, who wanted to eat the cats when she came into my home. Dynamo, who got excited and attacked my Russian Olive Tree when she got poked with 1" thorns,--the pain made her want more of that, not less...so yes, it can be done.
Diamonds in the Ruff advice was not enough, she would have been assessed as 'needs a good home-no cats',
but yes, it can be done.
google introducing dogs to cat, and jackson galaxy has a great page on this.
Others will chime in, who have been there and done that too.
It can be done.
In the meantime, (and it sounds like you are doing it) keep your cats safe. Don't be fooled by terminology like 'prey drive is not aggression'. It doesn't matter what you call it, it can lead to a dead or injured cat. It is serious.
More likely, with most dogs that don't have the deadly version of prey drive, it can just lead to a seriously psychologically messed up cat, and that is not a fun creature to live with. Upset cats pee on things, avoid affection, run and hide, or become unpredictably aggressive--not fun.
So when you start your training, make sure your cats are feeling safe and comfortable in the presence of the dog. Never give your dog the opportunity to chase or intimidate the cats. Confident cats will help your dog learn faster too, as frightened cats unfortunately will elicit more, not less, prey drive from your dog.
Dynamo was my cat Rikers best friend and groomed his ears for him in her late years, but she not only learned to respect cats, but to like and care for them. She even peacefully interrupted cat fights by walking between them, and 'snitched' on them when they got into her food dish rather than take care of the problem herself (she would find us and whine until we put her food away for her). Sorry to go on about her, but I still miss her, and it is on topic.
Enjoy your dog,
and cats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes--see avatar.
That was Dynamo, who wanted to eat the cats when she came into my home. Dynamo, who got excited and attacked my Russian Olive Tree when she got poked with 1" thorns,--the pain made her want more of that, not less...so yes, it can be done.
Diamonds in the Ruff advice was not enough, she would have been assessed as 'needs a good home-no cats',
but yes, it can be done.
google introducing dogs to cat, and jackson galaxy has a great page on this.
Others will chime in, who have been there and done that too.
It can be done.
In the meantime, (and it sounds like you are doing it) keep your cats safe. Don't be fooled by terminology like 'prey drive is not aggression'. It doesn't matter what you call it, it can lead to a dead or injured cat. It is serious.
More likely, with most dogs that don't have the deadly version of prey drive, it can just lead to a seriously psychologically messed up cat, and that is not a fun creature to live with. Upset cats pee on things, avoid affection, run and hide, or become unpredictably aggressive--not fun.
So when you start your training, make sure your cats are feeling safe and comfortable in the presence of the dog. Never give your dog the opportunity to chase or intimidate the cats. Confident cats will help your dog learn faster too, as frightened cats unfortunately will elicit more, not less, prey drive from your dog.
Dynamo was my cat Rikers best friend and groomed his ears for him in her late years, but she not only learned to respect cats, but to like and care for them. She even peacefully interrupted cat fights by walking between them, and 'snitched' on them when they got into her food dish rather than take care of the problem herself (she would find us and whine until we put her food away for her). Sorry to go on about her, but I still miss her, and it is on topic.
Enjoy your dog,
and cats.
How long did it take Dynamo to stop going after the cats?

We've already had a few accidents where he got upstairs. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, but it was pretty close. These are big Maine ***** too, and they're absolutely terrified of him. Our cats are just not the same anymore. It's really sad.
 

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I feel your pain @cactusgrower. Our 15 week old puppy REALLY wants to play with our cats and while there is nothing malicious about his intent right now, I worry he will never stop chasing them. One of them has totally changed personalities and just seems skittish and unhappy to be downstairs (where the puppy is contained). It breaks my heart b/c he was a sweet, social kitty before we got the puppy. I have tried treating the puppy every time he is calm, etc. and he still just wage his tail and wants to play/chase them :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I feel your pain @cactusgrower. Our 15 week old puppy REALLY wants to play with our cats and while there is nothing malicious about his intent right now, I worry he will never stop chasing them. One of them has totally changed personalities and just seems skittish and unhappy to be downstairs (where the puppy is contained). It breaks my heart b/c he was a sweet, social kitty before we got the puppy. I have tried treating the puppy every time he is calm, etc. and he still just wage his tail and wants to play/chase them :(
I think my dog's intent is not just play. He wants to catch them...who knows what he'd do after that.
 

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@cactusgrower, we NEVER trusted her alone with the cats, not ever. By the time she was too old to do anything, it was just an established routine to keep dogs separate from cats when not supervised. Sonic (good with cats) doesn't have access to cats without our being around either.
We spent 2 months doing the 'diamonds in the rough' or similar training. She loved training, but did not in anyway lose her prey drive. I saw no social behaviours during that time; she clearly considered the cats fair game/literally.
I can't discuss here how we trained her, but it only took about a week after changing tactics to see social behaviours--flea biting, gentle sniffing, mild curiousity. We did need to guide that (gently interrupt the good stuff if she started getting too excited, but she was social with them from then onwards). Sonic presents his butt for sniffing; I can't remember if Dynamo did that too, but it is another social behaviour to look for to see that things are going well.
I don't consider management/separation sufficient. Mistakes happen, and as long as the prey drive for the cat is there, mistakes can be deadly. Besides, the cats know the difference between a friendly calm dog, and a dog barely under control, busting for a chance to get at them.
Whatever training method you use, though. It is very important to not give the dog the opportunity to lunge at, bark at, snap at, growl at, whine at, or stare at the cat. You need to distinguish the difference between staring and just looking. But think of it this way, most of us can easilly tell the difference between being admired and being leered at. So it's like that. If you can stop the above from happening, your cats will likely begin to relax and change too.
Cats are as much our responsibility as dogs, and it's up to us to keep them safe and happy.
Thanks so much for asking and caring.

Oh, and I'm not sure if it was addressed, keeping the dog on a leash, or physically separated during the training phase is very important. Tethering, umbilical cord style. When you, the dog, or the cats need a rest, use doors and relax with the dog alone with you, or with the cats alone with you. Hope this all helps.
 

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@cactusgrower, we NEVER trusted her alone with the cats, not ever. By the time she was too old to do anything, it was just an established routine to keep dogs separate from cats when not supervised. Sonic (good with cats) doesn't have access to cats without our being around either.
We spent 2 months doing the 'diamonds in the rough' or similar training. She loved training, but did not in anyway lose her prey drive. I saw no social behaviours during that time; she clearly considered the cats fair game/literally.
I can't discuss here how we trained her, but it only took about a week after changing tactics to see social behaviours--flea biting, gentle sniffing, mild curiousity. We did need to guide that (gently interrupt the good stuff if she started getting too excited, but she was social with them from then onwards). Sonic presents his butt for sniffing; I can't remember if Dynamo did that too, but it is another social behaviour to look for to see that things are going well.
I don't consider management/separation sufficient. Mistakes happen, and as long as the prey drive for the cat is there, mistakes can be deadly. Besides, the cats know the difference between a friendly calm dog, and a dog barely under control, busting for a chance to get at them.
Whatever training method you use, though. It is very important to not give the dog the opportunity to lunge at, bark at, snap at, growl at, whine at, or stare at the cat. You need to distinguish the difference between staring and just looking. But think of it this way, most of us can easilly tell the difference between being admired and being leered at. So it's like that. If you can stop the above from happening, your cats will likely begin to relax and change too.
Cats are as much our responsibility as dogs, and it's up to us to keep them safe and happy.
Thanks so much for asking and caring.

Oh, and I'm not sure if it was addressed, keeping the dog on a leash, or physically separated during the training phase is very important. Tethering, umbilical cord style. When you, the dog, or the cats need a rest, use doors and relax with the dog alone with you, or with the cats alone with you. Hope this all helps.
How do you keep puppy from barking at them? Just now my cat actually came out and has been totally following us around and for the most part the puppy is doing great, but got down with waggy tail in the air and barked a couple times. Cat seemed unphased by it. I tried to shush him but he rarely barks so don;t even know how you make them stop?!
 
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