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I just adopted a Plott Hound, and I'm a little stressed about our new addition to the family. She's supposed to be a kind of "anxiety therapy dog," but unfortunately I can't stop stressing about her. I consider myself a decent dog owner, but she's the first dog I've ever had and I'd really like to do everything right. We just adopted our dog from the shelter three days ago. She's about one year old, they think, but they don't know about her background, since she came from a kill shelter before going to the local Humane Society. I'm not a hundred precent certain about her breed. Plott Hound seems to be the primary, but she might have some other breeds in her. I apologize if I sound really paranoid or over-analytical about everything, but I want to make sure that I do the best with her I can.

One of my biggest concerns is the three cats we have. When she first came home, she was pretty good about giving the cats their space, but after a couple hours of settling she seemed to try to get closer to them. A couple members of my family say she just really wants to make friends with them, but I'd like to make sure that her behavior isn't so aggressive sooner rather than later. If we let her, she'll try chasing after them, but stop about a foot away from them if they don't dash off. She hasn't actively tried biting them, or swatting at them, or attacking them (one of the cats even swatted her on the nose and she didn't retaliate, just ran away), but she (maybe accidentally?) cornered one this morning and scared the cat so bad I had to pull her away. Whenever she's close to them, it's always really hard to get her to focus on anything but the cat. As for her "stance", she doesn't seem to be in full-predator mode or anything, but she has her ears pricked she hardly blinks. Sometimes if the cat doesn't run away, and she's close to them, she'll sit down all the way and keep watching them. She never barks at the cats, but she'll whine if one of them hides under the table where she can't follow them. If she sees a cat going into a room where she isn't allowed, she'll paw at the door and wait there for a while. Should this be considered aggressive behavior, or friendly behavior and scared cats? Is there anything I can do to help them get along better?

Another thing is walks. She's a hound, so she likes to sniff everything, which is fine with me, but she's a puller. I can handle her decently well, but I hate just yanking her around and I don't want her dragging me everywhere. She seems to really want to meet people, as well as other dogs, and she'll try to drag me over to anyone outside. What's the best way to remedy this?

As another related note, she doesn't seem to be interested in toys very much, so her main energy release is walking her. It gets to be kind of high-maintenance taking her out so much. There are a couple other people helping to take care of her, so we can handle it, but would it be better to try and encourage her to play with her toys more?

Plenty of people also seem to think it's a good idea to crate her. There's usually at least one person at home at all times to take care of her, and she's already housetrained, so is it necessary to crate her during the nights, or during the short period of time we're all away? Would it be okay to leave her alone with the cats?

So, sorry for the long-winded post and all the questions, but I think that's everything. Does anyone have some advice?
 

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It sounds like prey drive. Hounds aren't exactly the most cat friendly breed. One of my hounds was raised with our cat from a puppy and he is good with her, but he will still chase her on occasion. My rescue hound is cat aggressive.

Both my hounds are left uncrated when I'm not home. Do not leave the dog free roaming if you do not have a secure area where the cats can escape too. Our upstairs is gated off so the cat can go up there, but the dogs can't.

It is always good to teach a dog to be crated in case you need to at times (in hotels, emergencies, at the vet, etc.)

I do not walk my hounds on collars. They wear no pull harnesses. Freedom No Pull Harness

Some dogs like toys, others don't. One of my hounds loves toys and the other doesn't touch them. You can encourage her to play with toys, but that won't be a good way to release much energy because I don't know of any hound that will fetch and retrieve. You can burn off a little energy with tugging, but not enough to replace walks. We have a fenced yard that the dogs run around in so I don't worry much about not taking them for walks when I'm too tired.

You can try a flirt pole Pet Supplies : Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole V2 Dog Exercise Toy with Blue/Aqua Squeaker Fleece Lure, 36-Inch : Amazon.com and attach a real fur or leather toy to it. Flirt poles are a good way to burn energy and they can also be used inside if you have a big enough space.
 

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Personally I hate collars, I use these for both my Boston Terrier puppy that's still learning to walk well and my 40lb 6 year old lab mix that sometimes gets over-excited about smells:
https://www.chewy.com/dog/petsafe-easy-walk-black-silver-dog/dp/48923?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=PetSafe&utm_term=&gclid=CLLtg4uV9ckCFVCQHwodvTcJZQ
Note that some dogs can wiggle out of them, what I used to do with my old dog that was dog aggressive is I would attach a braided choke chain around her flat collar and clip it with the harness. This is the kind of choke chain I mean:
Braided Nylon Slip Dog Collars | Dog Training Collar | Slip Dog Collar | Dog Training Collar | JJ Dog
Also note choke chains by themselves are a bad choice; they put too much stress on the trachea and dont really do much in terms of correcting behavior IME/O.

To me the cat behavior sounds like a mix of curiosity and prey drive- it seems like the cats running switches it from curiosity to prey drive. She's not being aggressive (aggression usually stems from frustration or fear) but rather doing what she was bred to do- react to small things running from her by chasing after them.

Personally I would make absolutely certain there is a place the cats can get away from her and also would probably crate her while you're gone until you've had her a little longer. I wouldn't leave a new hound that likes to chase my cats alone with them even if I though they had places to get away as bad things can happen quickly and she doesn't understand the house rules yet.

I would work on a "no chase" command with her. With my Boston and my pet rabbit I use a squirt bottle so she's linked "no chase" with being squired by water and will stop in her tracks. With my lab mix who has a higher prey drive and actually enjoying the squirt bottle I use a spray of Bitter Apple (https://www.chewy.com/dog/grannicks-bitter-apple-original-dog/dp/46005?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=Grannick's Bitter Apple&utm_term=&gclid=CLGW_JSX9ckCFQEuHwod74AMMw) with the command. Keep treats on hand so that if she does listen to "no chase" by stopping she gets a treat. I'm not sure how this will work with a hunting breed but my lab mutt has enough self control to stop. With an older (not little puppy) hound mix she may have enough self control to stop but she also may not.
 

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There are many ways to teach loose lease walking. Some work better for some dogs, but no one method is best. In the mean time get either a no pull harness or head collar. I use a head collar for my dane but we are working off it little by little. Not all dogs take to head collars and you do need to make sure your dog doesn't run to the end and get jerked back.
The cats, I have a few cats too. Running cats trigger many dogs to chase. My dane loves the cats but she will chase if they run. Though she is getting better. I taught her 'leave it'. Leave it is an invaluable command. Also the cats may take a while to come around to the new dog. It took a good six months for all my cats to stop hissing at the new pup every time they saw her. And they are just now really becoming comfortable around her.
Even if there is someone home it is a really good idea to crate train. Many dogs see the crate as a safe spot and will sleep and relax in their crate. You never know when you'll have to crate your dog and it's better to have them use to it rather than panicking.
Not all dogs like toys, I don't think there is much you can do about that. I'd suggest trying different types of toys out anyway. You never know when they will love one. You also need to give her time to settle in. It normally takes many months for dogs to really settle and show their personalities. Everything is still new to her.
 

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Always a harness never a collar. Trucker is a walk sniffer but he does it on a loose leash by my side.

He like to "tree" his cat in the cat tower or corner him and bark at him or play chase with him or have staring contests with him. The cat is much more aggressive then he is.

Trucker LOVES his crate it is the best things he has ever encountered.

He also is a hound that will fetch and retrieve when he feels like it :) but not play tug so much.
 

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Re: Cats, you might find this link helpful. I used similar methods to teach my dog calm manners around my poultry. To be clear, my suggesting this doesn't negate the fact that you should be cautious about their interactions and shouldn't readily leave them alone together unsupervised until and unless the dog totally, totally earns your trust - but many dogs can be taught good replacement behaviors for prey / chase drive, to some extent.
 
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