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Hello everyone. I apologize for making my very first post and visit a problem but I am searching for any resource that might help my situation. I have a Roosevelt Terrier. I won't go into the details but basically my husband and I became the dog's fourth owner. We have had her for 2 years, the dog is 5 years old. I know where she came from and the breeder but that is of no help at all. She came to us because it was the end of the line, there was no one else. My husband ended up moving to Virgina to work and I moved back in with my family until he is able to find a home for us and all of our animals. That leaves me and all of our animals in a home with my parents and all of theirs. My entire family and myself have always taken in rescues so there are a lot of animals in this household. Mostly cats but also the Terrier, Precious ( I did not name her) and another older dog dropped off at the post office a few years ago. All of the animals are fine with each other and perfectly content except Precious. It has been 7 months now and she is hurting the cats. Despite everything I've tried the behavior is escalating and she is causing serious injuries. I can't allow that. I love the dog and she loves me but I can't tolerate her injuring my other animals. I researched the breed and found that they are a very high energy dog with a strong prey drive. I'm sure this dog's behaviors are due in part to the breed and partly because she spent most of her first three years of life in a crate. She has not been in a crate since she has lived with my husband and I. Not even once. I think it was absolutely abuse and cruelty when her previous owners kept her locked up constantly so they did not have to deal with her. She even had to sleep all night alone in that crate in a separate room from any of her people. She sleeps burrowed into the covers right beside me at night and is extremely attached to me. I don't think I have any choice except getting rid of her but I don't want to do it. I know she needs a lot of exercise so I make sure she gets it. She gets to run through a huge alfalfa feed every day in additon to her walks. I don't know what to do to stop her from hurting the cats. I have also had no luck at all trying to find another home for her. The no-kill waits lists are months in the future and I think they are just saying the dog is on a list and I'll never hear back. Any advice on this situation would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have a rat terrier x jack Russell mix, a very similar breed with a very high prey drive, and I can tell you with a prey drive that strong, I would never trust her with the cats. Even if you hired a trainer and she was able to get to the point where she "seems" okay, something like a cat fleeing or making a high pitched noise could easily set her off again. And you said she's hurting the cats? That's very reinforcing to these dogs, catching, attacking, and killing their prey. So that's working against you.

Re homing might be the safest option for your cats.

If you want to keep her I would suggest you make sure she's ALWAYS physically separated from the cats and get a trainer on board who has experience with dogs with prey drive. You're definitely going to want to work on "leave it," impulse control, and recall with her. Keep her on a leash with you in the house if you can't physically separate the cats. Look into baby gates. Even look into conditioning her to wear a muzzle.

You can teach her to redirect that prey drive onto something appropriate like a flirt pole, or even just by playing fetch or tug. These games can also help teach impulse control- she can't go after the toy until you say it's okay and she has to drop it and take breaks regularly.

Even then, as I said, I would never fully trust her with cats.
 

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All of the advice above plus never leave her alone even for a second with another pet, but always make sure she or the cats are locked safely in their own respective rooms. I can understand why you don't want to crate her given her past but she can still be locked in your bedroom or the bathroom or somewhere since she's not trustworthy with the other pets. I personally am not a huge fan of crating although I understand many people are. My current dog was terrified of crates and broke out of one at his last home when I got him. He wouldn't go into the one I have and would shake in fear even looking at it. Now he chooses to go in there and take a break and nap but I never lock him in or he freaks out and starts pawing frantically. Only exception is if maintenance men are here to do brief work in the apartment since he barks and they're scared of him. I can lock him in briefly while they fix things while tossing him treats and praising him.
But my last dog used to have some food aggression with other people and my cats when he was young. It improved with training and stopped being an issue after I made him work for his food and every treat. But just him snapping at a cat once in his life over a treat made me never leave him alone with them for his entire life. I always locked him in his own room when I wasn't home just in case. Even after they were bonded and would sleep together cuddled up.
I'd keep her on a leash at all times in the house and really work on her leave it command and make sure her recall is perfect so you have full control of her at all times and can stop any kind of chase or attack before it escalates into any more injuries. This way if you do rehome her she'll be better trained and easier for the new owner. Wearing a basket muzzle all the time in the house is a good idea too, she can still open her mouth a bit to breathe but can't bite to hurt anything.
Baby gates work well too as long as the cats can all jump over them and she can't. As on no older or disabled or sick cats with mobility issues that cant jump easily to get away if needed. My current dog loves to jump my baby gate and go in the kitchen to eat the cat food. My last dog never did. And some small dogs can jump very high.

My dog supposedly had a high prey drive and the shelter didn't want me to adopt him because they were afraid he'd kill my cats. But at the time I had 4 cats, 3 of which were former feral street cats from tough areas who were used to fending off feral stray dogs. First night home the dog tried to lunge and pounce on my smallest cat while leashed, the cat boldly walked right up to him while I had him in a sit and stay and he just leaped and lunged while the cat was right there despite my hold in his collar, he's very fit and strong and wasn't trained at all yet. The cat attacked him and scratched his cornea, two weeks of eye meds. The biggest meanest cat wouldn't let him go from one room to another, and the little cat charged and attacked him for months. This is a 75 pound dog and he was petrified of all of them. 2 of them have since died of cancer, and over a year later he's cautiously starting to be friends with the remaining two but they're in charge. His prey drive seems gone, he'll chase rabbits or squirrels in the street or at the park but is friendly to cats he sees.
Maybe if your dog met a very assertive cat it would teach her respect? Especially if she was leashed and couldn't hurt the cat. Just a thought since it seemed to help my dog. But then again he never hurt another animal, before or after I got him.
He also tried to chase and harass my horses and broke loose a couple of times and wouldn't let me catch him. Chewed through his leash once and opened a gate and somehow took off his harness a second time. Stopped harassing my horses when my ancient old mare who hates dogs kicked him when he was nipping her. He luckily wasn't hurt but scared. He stopped chasing and harassing all horses after he stupidly picked a wild Mustang the barn owner had just bought and shipped from West somewhere. Mustangs raised wild don't play with dogs. They survive by running and if they can't escape they kick once with intent to kill wolves who want to eat them. The Mustang charged him with murder in her eye. Luckily he figured that out and is very fast so ran back to me.

I'm not advocating abuse or risking your dogs life and I would never have deliberately trained my dog by endangering or frightening or harming him in any way. But he was a talented escape artist when I got him and had no training so didn't listen at first. Despite my best efforts he did outsmart me and escape a few times at first. The school of hard knocks did teach him to be respectful and well behaved around my cats and horses. And I knew that my cats were assertive and could hold their own with my last dog which is why I took a chance on adopting him. Sometimes natural consequences do help in the right situations. But I'm just talking from my experience with two large dogs that had some initial cat issues but wound up being fine. Last dog was an Akita pit mix and I'd heard akitas couldn't be trusted with cats so I was cautious. Current dog is lab and German Shepherd mix who German Shepherd can also have prey drive with small animals.

Anyway, good luck it sounds like a tough situation. It sounds like you either need a couple of very tough assertive street cats or a larger protective dog who will help protect the cats and herd him away. My current dog literally blocks his best buddy German Shepherd when she harasses small dogs and puppies at the park. If they yelp or whimper he runs over and pushes her away and keeps himself between her and the smaller one until she gives up and loses interest or her owner notices and calls her. He'll even snap at her if she's too persistent.

If you're really desperate and can't keep her safe with the cats, there are no kill shelters like the animal rescue league and the spca. They have dogs in them that can't live with cats. The mspca told me they'd euthanize a dog who'd killed another animal, but didn't say that about dogs with prey drive who hadn't gotten to that point yet.
 

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Thank you so much for the advice. I honestly never even thought of a muzzle to keep her from being able to bite. I know it sounds silly but that never occurred to me. Im learning a lot here about things I've never done, probably because I never needed to. I've never had a terrier or a breed similar before. All of our dogs have been larger and mixed breeds and I never had these issues. I am finding terriers are very different. The woman who originally purchased this dog as a puppy was a 72 year old lady looking for a small dog to basically be a lap dog. She didn't know anything about this breed and that is what started the chain of owners and constant confinement due to behaviors. i am guessing that in the beginning it wasn't actually behaviors and was simply the fact that she was a terrier puppy and her owners were not prepared for it. I've got some opinions of the woman wo sold her to that particular owner in the first place but I don't know the whole story so I guess I should not judge. At our previous home, which was way out in the country, a neighbor had four labs much larger than Precious. Prec is lucky they were labs. She got loose a few times and tried to bully four dogs that were all much larger than her. Those dogs were so sweet natured they did not really react. I actually do have have a few cats this dog will walk in large circles to avoid. She knows which ones won't tolerate her and definitely goes for the ones who are older or not as healthy, which is a trait I don't care much for but I realize it is her nature. Precious is also a great escape artist. I have learned to check her collar and lead every single time I take her out as she is very good at getting it loosened enough to get out of it when we are outside. I have since switched to a harness that she can't get out of so easily. I let her loose to run when we get to the farm but she can't be loose anywhere else. Allowing her to do that is probably not a good idea, now that I've read some other posts on here. I let her do it because I cant run nearly as fast or as long as she can and she will run back and forth through that field 4 or 5 times as soon as she gets there. she has so much energy. I am going to try some of the suggestions you have so helpfully provided and some things I have read through the rest of the forum. I read a lot of posts last night and it was very informative. Thank you all for your help. I am so happy that people here understand I don't hate the dog or want to be rid of her for convenience. Another forum I tried to find some advice at ended up with a bunch of people accusing me of hating my dog, which is not the case at all. Trying to make the dog happy may have contributed to the problems I'm having as I did not discipline or train her like I should have because I thought I was being mean..
 

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Separate from the cats with a baby gate or door. Keep her on a leash when out around the cats, redirect when she starts to get intense toward a cat (more than a passing glance), reward intensely for good choices regarding the cats.

If you are unable to effectively separate via gates/doors, consider a crate or expen (if an expen you would need to put a wire lid on top and bottom, as dogs can lift it up and squeeze under or climb out to escape). At least you know you will use a crate ethically- you have no control over what the next owner in line will do, and dogs can spend YEARS sitting in an 8x5 kennel at a no kill shelter waiting for a home that may or may not ever come- that is certainly more cruel than a few hours a day in a crate at the home she currently is happy in. Sometimes the known "less than desired" option is better than taking a chance on the unknown.

It would probably help to have a trainer come and give you a plan for improving her behavior around the cats. It's very important that you not allow her the opportunity to chase/grab them, as that is reinforcing the "fun" of that activity to her, and reinforcing "RUN! Dog is scary!" behavior in cats, which will only make things harder. With time and work, she may be able to become tolerant of the cats, or at least ignore the cats, though I would never trust her alone with them.
 

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Also if she's good at escaping and taking off equipment my dog wears a martingale collar which the mspca insisted I take when I adopted him. If properly fitted they can't take it off. He did get out of it once but I had it on too loose. I also use a harness with him as he damaged his windpipe pulling on walks before I got him. He destroyed a gentle lead and head collar. He also got off one harness but this second one he hasn't yet.

Your dog is smart if she knows which cats to avoid and which ones to still bother. My dog has been cuffed by all my cats even the gentler ones and he's afraid of all of them. Just make sure to never let her loose with small animals. And that she can't jump over a baby gate if you use that. She can wear a basket muzzle for a long time, but it has to be a basket muzzle. The regular muzzles that are like sleeves and hold her mouth closed can't be worn very long.

I'd keep her leashed in the house and work on recall and leave it command nonstop. Use whatever motivates her the most, clicker training, treats whatever works. My dog loves bacon and pork treats. He went from being a complete runaway that I could never catch and would spend an hour every night in the dog park trying to catch to having decent recall, around 80 or more percent. We even went on a walk with a friend and their dog around a local pond recently and the dogs were loose and he stayed near and came back to me when I called. Bacon treats and lots of praise every time he came back when I called. Worked wonders.
 

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Please do not give this dog up to a shelter! Esp at her age, she has got little chance of finding a good home & if she does find a home, who's to say it will be good, or that there are not more cats or other issues that lead her to be given up on again? If you seriously can't keep her, give serious consideration to the fact that putting her down could be a lot more humane than passing her on.

Agree with Busannie, that you just need to ensure the dog is kept separated from the cats. Hiring a trainer/behaviourist to give you some training tips with *help* the situation, but you have a hunting terrier there & so you should never rely on her to forget her instincts, especially as she's had experience already that chasing cats is fun!
 

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I haven't read all of the responses so apologies if I duplicate anything.

I fostered a 1 year old German Shepherd a few months back. This dog was HIGH energy. She would wake me up at 5 am to go outside and did not rest until 10 pm when I put her to bed. She also was very interested in our cat.

Here are some things that worked for us:

1) A strict training schedule - she had a short attention span so sessions had to be short to be effective. We would do about 8-10 sessions of obedience, in the house with no distractions, per day (about 30- 60 seconds per session). Additionally, we would take walks and work on loose leash walking. All of this really worked her brain well.

2) A strict exercise schedule. Tugging, fetching a ball, etc. She had about 2-3 hours/day of running (in the fenced in backyard or on a long line).

3) LAT (Look at That) training. We utilized this method specifically for the cat. I'd sit on the floor with the dog and anytime that she looked at the cat and didn't react, I'd click and treat. It worked really, really well.

4) Impulse control. I did lots of impulse control training with her. This helped with teaching her not to chase the cat but she needed impulse help in many areas when she came to me haha.


I felt comfortable doing these things on my own. If you don't, then I recommend finding a good positive reinforcement trainer in your area.

I don't think this dog is a lost cause. I think she's a typical terrier who is telling you that she would like a job. If I were you, I'd find some barn hunt classes in your area and sign her up. Let her use her prey drive while also learning to control it.
 

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After using some of the suggestions here we have no more incidents of any cats being injured, so that is the main goal. It gives me time to work on some more permanent training. I don't remember which person posted the part about being in a crate unhappy for a short time is better than leaving her home, but I do agree. Anything I have to do is probably better than her going to a shelter. I'm sure there are wonderful homes out there but there is no guarantee she would go to a good one. That was a thought out of depression/desparation. Now that I know there is hope for this and i realize I have so many options I don't think it will be necessary. The silly dog is sitting on my lap right now as I type. She isn't really a lap dog but she thinks she is. It would break her heart if I sent her away. I really appreciate all the suggestions and I have started looking for a professsional in the area to help as well. I realize this dog could live for quite a long time and I would prefer if she had that long life with me. Hopefully my husband can get things together soon so we can get into our new home soon. I thik the number of animals in the same house is probably making this more difficult. As long as everyone is safe everything else can be worked on and I have got that under control now I think. thanks so much for all of your help. It really did make a huge difference. Many knowledgable people here and it is so amazing that you are so eager to share that knowledge to help others.
 

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Awesome to read that you've made progress and are feeling safer and more confident with more training tools already! Keep up the good hard work! It's never easy, and there can be progress and then steps back so continue to monitor and be cautious for the cats sake. But good for you!
 
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