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My 1 1/2 (ish) year old Australian Sheppard, Harper, and I just moved into a new apartment a few weeks ago. As I expected, he tried to test his boundaries in the new space quite a bit which included trying to counter-surf. He never really tried this in our previous living environment, but since my new roommate has never had a dog before she was really bad about leaving things around that he found interesting. He's now really learned the behavior, and, while my roommate has gotten better about keeping things out of his reach, I catch him with his paws on the counter all the time. Im wondering if there are any other tips or tricks to teaching him not to do this, or do I just need to invest in a baby gate?

Harper also is very interested in my roommates cat. He's never acted aggressively toward the cat, but is very curious and just wants to play. The cat, however, doesn't want anything to do with the dog and generally hisses, bops him on the nose, and/or runs away. I'm fine with all this behavior. They're learning about each other, and figuring out the relationship. My roommate, however, gets super annoyed when Harper chases Cody (the cat). I've tried to explain that a) he's obviously not being aggressive when he does it; he just wants to play, and b) hes a herding dog. Its his nature to want to chase Cody. But in attempt to keep the peace, has anyone else dealt with this and has tips?

Thanks!
 

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I'm siding with your roommate regarding the cat and with you regarding the counter-surfing. I would have a thought a cat owner would already know not to leave food on the counter, cats are masters of counter surfing, within sight if you let them, or the minute you turn your back if you don't.

I've always had dogs & cats together, but I have never allowed the dog to chase the cat. If I had a cat that enjoyed the behaviour, I would bend my rules, but in your case, the cat clearly is not having fun. Acceptable 'play' is mutual. This isn't.
 

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If he's coutersurfing in only one room like the kitchen I'd put up a baby gate to stop it especially if your roommate is still leaving out anything even occasionally as that will reinforce the behavior. She should know better as cats climb everything and steal too. One if my cats will find and drink out of any drink I make myself no matter what it is. Milk and water are his favorites but I caught the little stinker starting to sip out if an alcoholic drinks a few nights ago! I have to hide anything I pour so well I can barely find it, and watch him like a hawk.
It's very good that the cat is assertive as that will teach your dog limits and respect for cats very quickly. But I've never let a y of my dogs chase a cat. They can snap into prey drive quickly and forget the cat is their friend and I don't want to risk the cat's life since the dog is so much bigger. The cat is not enjoying it and is clearly saying it's stressed. If it continues to feel stressed it's at risk for turning destructive, aggressive towards the dog or people cats very commonly redirect aggression when they feel traumatized, or start marking or eliminating elsewhere in the house due to fear if coming out or stress. Those behaviors are very difficult to stop once started and are much easier to prevent by not stressing the cat. Cats are much more stressed by moves to new environments than dogs are and now the poor cat has this big irritating dog to adjust to who keeps harassing it. All the humans in the house have a duty to keep the cat, as the smallest creature in the house, protected and safe.
So I would be very clear and firm with your dog that chasing the cat is not acceptable ever. He can chase other dogs if he plays with any or you can do her work with him but cat is off limits. My dog gets excited when my two cats start running around playing and chasing each other. He knows to stay sitting with me or go to his crate and not bother them though. If he ever doesn't listen to me, one will hide and the younger one will attack and hurt him. They literally can run under him, jump over him and through him when he's eating and he won't mess with them. Wish he was that good with other animals distracting him outside!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Just to be clear, I don'tthink chasing the cat is by any means okay. After rereading my first post, I can see how it sounded like I was condoning the behavior. Really I'm just trying to see things the way Harper sees them, so I can better understand WHY he is doing this behavior. But really I want to figure out how to stop such behavior. There were cats in our previous living environment, but they just stayed out of his way most of the time, and when he did chase them I tried my best to discipline him (provided I was able to catch him in the act, scold him, and redirect his behavior). That never seemed to work. I was hoping Cody (who is younger and spunkier than the other cats we used to live with) would be able to put Harper in his place. I figured he'd learn pretty quickly after a bop or two on the nose. But that hasn't seemed to work either.
 

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I think dogs with a high chase drive or high prey drive or whatever you want to call it forget everything but chasing in that moment. My dog goes nuts and shoots off after rabbits and rats but won't usually chase other dogs. When I got him I had three tough formerly feral street cats and a tame but assertive cat. He quickly was at the bottom of the pecking order and afraid of the cats who were merciless. He still chased if they can around but got hurt a few times.
There's probably all kinds of positive reinforcement things you can do like look at that and impulse control training.
I was very firm with him and let the natural consequences of the cats teach him. I did also praise him a little with belly rubs when he stayed with me and ifnired the cats. It worked at home but he's still a pita about new cats and running other animals so maybe I should do something different.
 

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A baby gate is a good idea. Also teaching your dog "down" is good. We have a large kitchen island and a counter top stove so we had to teach our younger dog that no jumping up on the counters was ok. He could severely burn himself.
 
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