Dog vs Cat - Help!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by flutterby, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Today we adopted a 6 year old Australian Shepherd Mix. He was adopted and brought back because he has social anxiety and was destructive when left alone. I'm prepared to deal with that - I've had that issue with dogs before, I'm home most of the time, and we are crate training.

    We didn't know how he would be with cats, so we brought a cat into the meet and greet room, and he sniffed it and that was about it. The shelter staff and I felt that he would be ok. When we brought him home, he ignored the cats. For about 2 hours. Then, because Isa apparently has a death wish and is all curious while the other cats are hiding, he barked and went after her. However, I'm not sure he was going after her or trying to play. He barked and chased, but first he pounced a couple of times on his front feet. It looked like it might have been play behavior, but I'm not sure. He responded well - and quickly - when I corrected him. However, I'm not comfortable in the slightest having him out of sight. We have a babygate blocking the hall so he can't get to the bedrooms.

    So, my questions are: Can this behavior be changed? And, if yes, how? I realize I'm probably going to need to get a trainer involved, but am looking for suggestions in the interim.

  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Umm... he may be trying to "herd" Isa... he's a working dog and needs a lot to do.
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    A babygate isn't going to keep him out, those are easy for most mid to large dogs to get over. Certainly won't keep the cat out. Working dogs do need work to do, as was said. He's going to need constant attention and lots of exercise.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Sounds like playing behavior to me. One good swipe across the nose will back him off least to approach with caution when wanting to play. Betsy is a cat NUT, she does what you described cuz she gets all excited and wants to play. She doesn't always take no for an answer very well. Bruce got her just recently. He doesn't hurt her, just gives her a good swipe.

    I'd just watch the dog closely until he gets used to the cats and they get used to him.

    And yeah, ditto on the exercise, he's gonna need a TON to keep him out of trouble.
  5. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Kongs are good. Also, both of our high energy dogs like a bigger ball to roll around. One they can't get in their mouths, like a soccer ball.

    That said, our heeler harasses the cat during the day. I didn't know this until I started working from home. Now I know why the cat hates the dog. She has never hurt him in the 4 years they've been I dunno.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That pouncing sounds more like playing behavior to me. I would also get her a big ball to herd like was suggested. Another thing since you said she has anxiety is to look for that "hug" vest for dogs online and get her one. It was invented by a woman who makes weighted vests for autistic kids and they work wonders for anxious dogs.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Thanks for the tips. It didn't look like herding behavior, but still not sure if it is play behavior. And the gate will keep him out unless/until he figures out he can jump over it. My friend uses one and it keeps her Irish Wolfhound, English Mastiff, and Shih tzu out. The chihuahua is the one that gets over it. The big ones don't seem to realize they could simply step over it or push it down.

    We did some training tonight. He's such a smart boy. Within 10 minutes he was ignoring the cats. The cats feel safe venturing into the living room and kitchen. I'm not naive enough to trust him yet when we're not around, but we'll keep at it.

    I'm also having to teach him how to play. He doesn't know what to do with anything. I put some canned food in a Kong to work on crate training and he liked that. But balls and stuffies - no clue. He's catching on quickly. The large ball idea is a good one. And he'll get plenty of exercise. They told me that he had a Thunder Vest, but it was in the wash, and we forgot to get it when we left. I'll stop by tomorrow to pick it up.

  8. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    It's a bit of an adjustment. Jewel didn't need to be crated. We had to buy one tonight. And she'd rather the cats left her alone. But we'll get through it. :)
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Working dogs... like work, but it doesn't have to be herding.
    Basic obedience training, for starters, is work. If you've used clicker training before, its an easy way to work training into odd moments. Whenever the dog(s) get bored... start training!
    Then add some tricks.... on, off, under, over, shake a paw, "leave it" (put a treat down that the dog doesn't touch until you say "take it")...
    Plus, watch for things he does that you DO like.
    Lays down nicely at your feet? reward that, if you like it.
    Teach him what he SHOULD do - it doesn't work to focus too much on the "don't do"... dogs just don't get "don't".
  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Our heeler is almost 5 and just learned to play with toys, tho she picked up chasing the big ball around from the JRT. They can't bite it, but they try, and when they do, it just flips the ball away...once she got started on that, she loved it.

    She chases her tail a lot during the day, too.
  11. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    What is I thunder vest?
  12. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I don't focus on the "don't do". I redirect and praise for behavior that I want. When he focused on the cat, I redirected his attention to me. When his attention was on me, and not on the cat, I praised. When he relaxed and completely ignored the cat, I praised more.
  13. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    He was chasing his tail and leg earlier. Goofball.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sounds like he has a lot of promise and is a good fit for you. The problems may come if/when your health limits your activity. It is something to prepare for if possible. I think I may have mentioned feeder toys in the past. THey are super great for working dogs. Instead of a bowl of food, you put their food into a toy that they have to roll or move a certain way. They get their food a little at a time that way. While to us it may sound "mean" to have to work for every meal, to a dog who needs a high level of activity or a purpose, it is actually a nice thing. They can get food but they have to earn it and it is a reward to them and they don't have as much time to get into trouble/misbehave. A different way of thinking. I never even thought about it being "mean" until my dad said that his dog had a "right" to each meal and didnt' have to 'earn" them. Then my mom explained that to their dog it would be more playing than "working' and would keep her out of trouble so she didn't get yelled at so much, so my dad had to rethink things.

    I think the vest is a great thing. If it is too hot, maybe try a tshirt (for summer) because even that can be a big help. This may sound a bit dumb, but look for some of the clips from the show "Dog Town" which is about a huge shelter out west that takes dogs from other shelters and works with the hardest to train dogs that are out there. They took the worst of the dogs from Michael Vick and even taught one to work in search and rescue successfully. They worked with her and used her to speak aroudn the country to prove that fighting dogs CAN be rehabilitated but it takes time and work but is worth it. It was a National Geographic show and 18 episodes are on Netflix right now. It has some great ideas and might give you some new ways to think about training.
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    He's very cute!
  16. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I'm glad he sounds so happy and open to new toys.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Those Thunder Vests are great. Im glad he has one.
  18. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    This isn't play behavior, and if I hadn't been able to grab him I would be down a cat, I think. Sigh...
  19. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Oh dear.
  20. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Except later he sniffed two of the cats and didn't growl or charge. Keeping my fingers crossed.