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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone, I apologize for the large post.

I need some assistance from experienced dog and cat owners.

I'm currently fostering a two year old dog, an Australian Shepard Mix, named Coby. Unfortunately, when we got to the rescue, Coby was recently removed from a kill shelter the day before, so they didn't know much about him.

We have only had him for three days now; overall he is turning out to be a fantastic, well behaved dog. He seems to be very people orientated...kind of like a Velcro dog without the separation anxiety. He doesn't seem to want to chase anything while on walks and is friendly towards other dogs, etc. He is practically the dog of dreams. One downside is that he is fearful, but his kind of fear is easy to work with. The only real problem I am having is that when my current cats get to close to smell him, he will show his teeth. I was told by a trainer that it could take 6 months until he accepts them...if he ever does.

My cats (almost 2 yrs old) have no experience with dogs and so I worry that they will learn a dogs warning signal the hard way. I am working on the slow introductions and keeping him on a leash during the introductions. Otherwise, he stays in the spare bedroom where he can smell my cats from under the door.

Also, I am currently pregnant (18 wks) so I feel that I am not ready to work with the slight aggression to my cats...what if it takes longer then 6 months before Coby agrees to share his space? If it was anything else that is not related to the slight aggression, I could work with it. I worry about space because he is a total lap dog...but so are my cats and we only have a love seat sized couch...and i'm also seeing were he will be on my lap and then my cat will want to be on my lap too.

My husband and I was in the middle of buying this home when I found out I was pregnant. The main reason we were buying a home was so that we could have a dog. Since, I am in the second trimester and feeling tons better we were hoping to find a dog during this time before the third trimester hits. This would give the dog time to adjust to our home, etc.

Am I making a mistake by being over protective of my cats and letting this dog go back to the rescue? Should I continue trying to working with him? I was told by another organization that they will have 7 to 12 week old puppies available for adoption this coming weekend. Would this be a better option if I could get an experienced trainer to do a temperament test on the puppy? I'm thinking the cats would have an easier time learning a dog's mannerisms if it was puppy, but I could be mistaken.

I'm thinking if we don't find a dog by my 22nd or 23rd week then we will hold off until the baby is older.

Please let me know what you think from your experience and knowledge.

Thank you for your time.

PS: I can post the link to petfinder if anyone feels the need to see him, or email if that is more appropriate.
 

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I think you need a minimum of 3 more weeks to see his true personality, so it's way to early to begin to tell if he'll show more behavior problems, or if he'll slowly settle down and become an even better dog. He's just now starting to get rid of all the stress hormones from being left at the shelter (how long was he there?), then going to the rescue, then finally to y'all. He'll now start to slowly show you his true personality.

For your cats you need to start rewarding him for all positive reactions to him, and redirect him if he's having a negative one. Do not negatively correct him for growling at them, that's his way of saying I'm uncomfortable with this and a correction will only confirm, to him, that he was right to be wary of them.

Check out this thread http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/introing-cats-dogs-23536/
 

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We have only had him for three days now; overall he is turning out to be a fantastic, well behaved dog. He seems to be very people orientated...kind of like a Velcro dog without the separation anxiety. He doesn't seem to want to chase anything while on walks and is friendly towards other dogs, etc. He is practically the dog of dreams. One downside is that he is fearful, but his kind of fear is easy to work with. The only real problem I am having is that when my current cats get to close to smell him, he will show his teeth. I was told by a trainer that it could take 6 months until he accepts them...if he ever does.
If your dog is showing signs of fearfulness, the whole "well-behaved" may be more akin to "shut-down". I knew NOTHING about dogs when I got my pup when he was 5 months old. To me, he seemed awesome in so many ways - much older than 5 months. He didn't want us to touch him for the first week, but we put that down to just being new in our home. Wasn't till he'd been with us a couple of months that we realized that his issues were a little deeper than we'd realized.

Turned out, he is just very fearful, and his tendency is to put up a good offence as his first defence. He's still an awesome dog in many, many ways - obedient, clean, affectionate, no separation anxiety, learns fast, good watchdog. But he barks at strangers, and at other dogs, at people who visit. He's afraid of new places, and we can't take vacations because he can neither come with us or be left - at least, not without considerable trauma and we don't want to put him through it.

This doesn't mean your dog will have the same issues; he may settle in and be even better than he is now. So my advice is to bring in a good positive-based behaviourist to assess this dog. A behaviourist will be able to see things that you aren't able to see, and give you a much better idea of exactly what this dog may be capable of.

And, kudos to you for rescuing a dog (even if not this one), and being so thoughtful and careful about it.
 

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Its a bit too early to tell like rain said he needs a bit more time to settle I think its definately a good thing that you are fostering rather than diving into adopting right away.

Reward him for positive experiences with the cats and make sure they are always safe.

it is a possibility that he will never accept the cats, I know a dog who lived with cats since he was 8 weeks but it still never worked out it seems to depend heavily on the individual. However it is too early to tell whether thats the case with this dog.

On the bright side even if it turned out that yours is not the right home for him you have helped him tremendously. You can get to know him well to write about his personality and needs so he can find a home that right for him :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I think you need a minimum of 3 more weeks to see his true personality, so it's way to early to begin to tell if he'll show more behavior problems, or if he'll slowly settle down and become an even better dog. He's just now starting to get rid of all the stress hormones from being left at the shelter (how long was he there?), then going to the rescue, then finally to y'all. He'll now start to slowly show you his true personality.

For your cats you need to start rewarding him for all positive reactions to him, and redirect him if he's having a negative one. Do not negatively correct him for growling at them, that's his way of saying I'm uncomfortable with this and a correction will only confirm, to him, that he was right to be wary of them.

Check out this thread http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/introing-cats-dogs-23536/
Thank you Rain for the link. I realized that the part I was missing was body blocking. It looks like I was also wrong for removing him from the situation for showing his teeth. He didn't growl just wrinkled his lips.

I was using treats and rewarded Coby and my cats for paying attention to me while they were in the same area. Unfortunately, one of the two cats isn't very food driven so it was very hard to keep him from staring at the dog. It didn't feel like an aggressive stare...it felt more like my cat was thinking "what is this?". I could be wrong though. I did try breaking the stare but it was pretty hard to reward my male cat in some way, be it toys or treats to get him to stop staring.
 

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If your dog is showing signs of fearfulness, the whole "well-behaved" may be more akin to "shut-down". I knew NOTHING about dogs when I got my pup when he was 5 months old. To me, he seemed awesome in so many ways - much older than 5 months. He didn't want us to touch him for the first week, but we put that down to just being new in our home. Wasn't till he'd been with us a couple of months that we realized that his issues were a little deeper than we'd realized.

Turned out, he is just very fearful, and his tendency is to put up a good offence as his first defence. He's still an awesome dog in many, many ways - obedient, clean, affectionate, no separation anxiety, learns fast, good watchdog. But he barks at strangers, and at other dogs, at people who visit. He's afraid of new places, and we can't take vacations because he can neither come with us or be left - at least, not without considerable trauma and we don't want to put him through it.

This doesn't mean your dog will have the same issues; he may settle in and be even better than he is now. So my advice is to bring in a good positive-based behaviourist to assess this dog. A behaviourist will be able to see things that you aren't able to see, and give you a much better idea of exactly what this dog may be capable of.

And, kudos to you for rescuing a dog (even if not this one), and being so thoughtful and careful about it.
Thank you Dia, I will look into getting a positive-based behaviorist to assist him properly and possibly even have the person watch us do the introductions to see what we could be doing wrong and not realizing it.
 

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Its a bit too early to tell like rain said he needs a bit more time to settle I think its definately a good thing that you are fostering rather than diving into adopting right away.

Reward him for positive experiences with the cats and make sure they are always safe.

it is a possibility that he will never accept the cats, I know a dog who lived with cats since he was 8 weeks but it still never worked out it seems to depend heavily on the individual. However it is too early to tell whether thats the case with this dog.
That's a little worrying that even a puppy that grows up with cats could never learn to love them. Do you know if they did a temperament test on the puppy before adopting him/her? I'm hoping that with a temperament test (if I have must go this route) would increase the odds of the dog seeing the cats as its siblings or something.

On the bright side even if it turned out that yours is not the right home for him you have helped him tremendously. You can get to know him well to write about his personality and needs so he can find a home that right for him :)
My husband and I were talking about that, because we do feel horrible that it may not work out. He is even planning on staying at the store during the adoption event to promote Coby and make sure he goes to a good home. :)
 

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The worst case scenario is pretty good here :) one of the benefits of fostering is precisely to see whether there are problems like these before he goes to a permanent home. It means that potential adopters have the benefit of knowing whether he is a bit anxious or good/not good with cats and make a decision accordingly.

Don't feel guilty you are already giving this dog the best chance possible even if it doesn't work out with you guys.
 

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This is the way I taught ours. It works but takes time. You keep the dog leashed when in the presents of the cats and reward calm behavior. Eventually the cats just become part of the picture instead of the focus.
Diamonds in the Ruff
 

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I would not take on a 7-12 week old puppy while pregnant. It's just too much. The puppy would be hitting the height of adolescence just as you are sleep deprived and recovering from giving birth.

So if you aren't going to keep this dog- who sounds pretty nice- don't get a puppy. Just wait until your baby is older and try again with an adult foster. Or wait until your baby is in first grade or so and then get a puppy.
 

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I would not take on a 7-12 week old puppy while pregnant. It's just too much. The puppy would be hitting the height of adolescence just as you are sleep deprived and recovering from giving birth.

So if you aren't going to keep this dog- who sounds pretty nice- don't get a puppy. Just wait until your baby is older and try again with an adult foster. Or wait until your baby is in first grade or so and then get a puppy.
Thank you Amaryllis, I somehow overlooked adolescence. I will be sure to keep this in mind if we feel that we have to return Coby. It will be hard to wait even longer for a dog, but I do want to go about this as logically as possible.
 

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This is the way I taught ours. It works but takes time. You keep the dog leashed when in the presents of the cats and reward calm behavior. Eventually the cats just become part of the picture instead of the focus.
Diamonds in the Ruff
Thank you for the link. :) I want to try any and everything possible to make this work.
 

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Hi Isu,

Welcome to the Dog Forum! And congrats on your pregnancy!

I'm wondering if you can elaborate on this statement:

One downside is that he is fearful, but his kind of fear is easy to work with.
Besides the obvious concern about the cats, does he show any other signs of fearfulness? Also, what kind of previous experience do you have dogs, especially with fearful dogs?

With a new baby on the way, I think it's very important to get the most well-socialized, bomb-proof dog you can find. That's the kind of dog that will be relaxed and easy-going in nearly every situation. I'd strongly recommend reading this article:

Adopting a Dog: Some Dogs are Easier Than Others | Animal Behavior and Medicine Blog | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

As others have said, it can take much longer than three days to get a real feel of a shelter dog's true personality. And, with a new baby on the way, you need to give yourselves at least a couple of weeks to see how the new dog is fitting into your home before making a final decision whether to adopt him. Take your time. Don't rush this decision.
 

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I'd be more concerned about how a dog would deal with the new baby when it comes (congratulations btw!) than how it will turn out with the cats, and I'd be concerned about that with any dog you may get. I wouldn't say it's a bad idea necessarily, but that's the most important thing to think about. Your baby is going to be your absolute priority - dogs and cats will lose your time and attention to it, and most likely a dog will be disturbed by the disruption to its life, whether it's a dog you've had a long time or a dog you acquire close to the baby's arrival. The amount of help from others that you'll be able to get with caring for your animals might be a deciding factor.
 

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Hi Isu,

Welcome to the Dog Forum! And congrats on your pregnancy!

I'm wondering if you can elaborate on this statement:



Besides the obvious concern about the cats, does he show any other signs of fearfulness? Also, what kind of previous experience do you have dogs, especially with fearful dogs?
Thank you for the link SusanLynn and ty for the congrats. :) To answer your question, he shows his fear by cowering under you or sitting as close as he can behind you. He hasn't shown fear by snapping his jaws or peeing. We brought him into Petsmart so he could pick out a toy but all he wanted to do was just run out of there. The trainer that happened to be there said that it wasn't a bad type of fear. After a while he started to feel a little bit more comfortable with the store but refused to go down the toy aisle. It could be because a squeaky toy frightened him.

I've grown up with many different types of dogs (6) and cats (5) living in the same household. Most were brought home from a shelter or from the street. We had one dog that seemed to be a lab mix that would yelp like we were killing him every time we picked him up or tried to clean his ears, etc. My parents had him checked out and he was a healthy dog. Unfortunately, I was the type of kid that just locked themselves in the room all the time so I wasn't part of any real training. I do not know how my parents were able to gain his trust. The most I have ever done was teach the basic, sit and shake hands. I do regret being that kind of teenager. Most of the pets came when I was around this age.

My parents also never followed the slow introduction rule and just brought animals to the house and somehow was able to show that no matter how the resident animal felt the new one was now a part of the family. They also used the traditional training methods. I hope I am not making them sound like bad people because for the most part all the animals at the very least tolerated each other.

Doing things that is currently considered the correct way of raising and training animals is all very new to me. When I got the two cats I have now; I read everything I could about them. And they have turned into the best cats I have ever known. Not once have they scratched or bit me. So, either we were super lucky when we adopted them or I did something right while raising them.
 

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I'd be more concerned about how a dog would deal with the new baby when it comes (congratulations btw!) than how it will turn out with the cats, and I'd be concerned about that with any dog you may get. I wouldn't say it's a bad idea necessarily, but that's the most important thing to think about. Your baby is going to be your absolute priority - dogs and cats will lose your time and attention to it, and most likely a dog will be disturbed by the disruption to its life, whether it's a dog you've had a long time or a dog you acquire close to the baby's arrival. The amount of help from others that you'll be able to get with caring for your animals might be a deciding factor.
Thank you Gossamerrolo :)

You may be right...I am very happy that I chose to come here and talk to everyone about this to help me bounce things around and think logically or about stuff I may be overlooking. I did think about using a pet sitter to help us out but after reading your post I started thinking that it may be too expensive to do that as well as buying diapers, etc. I'll have to figure that out to be sure, but then again as you said the baby would become first priority. I don't want my pets to feel neglected...and it sounds like that is a very high possibility after reading your post. This is my first child so I have no realistic knowledge on how it is going to be when he/she is born. (will hopefully know in a few weeks)
 

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To answer your question, he shows his fear by cowering under you or sitting as close as he can behind you. He hasn't shown fear by snapping his jaws or peeing. We brought him into Petsmart so he could pick out a toy but all he wanted to do was just run out of there. The trainer that happened to be there said that it wasn't a bad type of fear. After a while he started to feel a little bit more comfortable with the store but refused to go down the toy aisle. It could be because a squeaky toy frightened him.
There are a lot of subtle signs of fear that you need to be paying a close attention to. You'll want to study this illustration carefully:

The Body Language of Fear in Dogs - Borderstar Border Collies

And, besides the dog's display of fear, you'll want to evaluate what causes him to be fearful. Being afraid of a squeaky toy is not a good sign when you're soon going to be having a baby. Babies and toddlers play with a lot of squeaky toys.

Here's a really terrific thread for you to read:

http://www.dogforum.com/general-dog-discussion/safety-children-babies-dogs-115969/

Lastly, PetSmart trainers often don't have a whole lot of training themselves. There is no good kind of fear when it comes to mixing dogs with children.

It's easy to fall in love with a new dog and say, "I want to try any and everything possible to make this work." And, if you didn't have a child on the way, I'd be more encouraging of you to stick with this dog. However, I don't want you to miss or dismiss some clear red flags.
 

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There are a lot of subtle signs of fear that you need to be paying a close attention to. You'll want to study this illustration carefully:

The Body Language of Fear in Dogs - Borderstar Border Collies

And, besides the dog's display of fear, you'll want to evaluate what causes him to be fearful. Being afraid of a squeaky toy is not a good sign when you're soon going to be having a baby. Babies and toddlers play with a lot of squeaky toys.

Here's a really terrific thread for you to read:

http://www.dogforum.com/general-dog-discussion/safety-children-babies-dogs-115969/

Lastly, PetSmart trainers often don't have a whole lot of training themselves. There is no good kind of fear when it comes to mixing dogs with children.

It's easy to fall in love with a new dog and say, "I want to try any and everything possible to make this work." And, if you didn't have a child on the way, I'd be more encouraging of you to stick with this dog. However, I don't want you to miss or dismiss some clear red flags.
Thank you very much for your input and the links. I really appreciate it and I will be sure to read them carefully...and hopefully logically. If anything, I will have my husband go over everything since he isn't the one with all the hormones :)
 
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