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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:13 AM

Honey's cat aggression is worsening.

I didn't do my homework on how to introduce new dog to cats because in all my years of pet-owning, I only had one dog that I brought into a cat-owned home who showed outward aggression toward cats, and I returned her to the shelter soon after we got her because of it.

When Honey first came, she seemed curious about the cats but not aggressive. But this morning I awoke to her growling then chasing one of the cats down the hall. It's the growling that I find worrisome.

It's not all bad. She's been alone with them in the house for some time a few times a week and no one's died yet. And I can carry a cat out to the living room and have both a cat and Honey on the couch with me at the same time. When I do that, Honey is interested in the cat for a few minutes (but not pestering) and then curls up and snoozes. But the second the cat wants to leave the living room and return to the spare room where they've been hanging since she arrived, she's after them in a flash if I don't restrain her.

Is there any hope of peaceful co-existence, or have a bungled this forever by not introducing them properly at the start? The internet is little help; I can only find articles about introducing pets, not how to correct interactions after introductions. Also, some sites say to verbally discourage the dog, others say that will only lead the dog to blame the cat and continue the bad behavior when the owner isn't present.

Any ideas?

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Reply Honey's cat aggression is worsening. (Original post)
intheflow Feb 2013 OP
TorchTheWitch Feb 2013 #1
intheflow Feb 2013 #2

Response to intheflow (Original post)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 03:10 AM

1. the dog isn't going to blame the cat - that's just silly

Of course you need to correct Honey if she goes after the cat. She doesn't have to learn to like the cat, but she has to learn that she must tolerate the cat. This could also be mock battles where they act and sound like they have every intension of killing the cat but it's all play. It's hard to tell though, but if she's interested in the cat and is happy with the cat when you're around this could be play battling. But if you want the behavior to stop whether it's in play or serious you have to correct Honey every time she does this and immediately. Correction is the only way she'll learn that she's free to despise the cat (if she does) but she's not allowed to chase after it.

What usually seems to be the best way of teaching a dog to not pester the cat is when the cat is the one to retaliate themselves. Cats are damn good at taking care of themselves and can take out a doggie eyeball before they've realized they're staring up at themselves. Once the dog figures out that kitty will tear them a new place to poop from if they piss it off they tend to stay clear and respect the cat as another smaller strange looking predator and a prey creature like a bunny or squirrel or possum.

That said, some cats will never retaliate themselves and just run and hide. If the cat isn't giving the dog what-for for pestering them, then you REALLY have to step in and correct the dog.

The dog we had when I was a kid got introduced to a two cat household. Neither of the cats liked him, and he didn't like them either. Though I don't remember him trying to chase them (though he probably did, but I was just a wee kid and don't recall) the cats were more than happy to let him know when to back off from them. Generally, they just didn't like each other for their whole lives, but they more or less tolerated each other, tended to stay in different rooms from each other, and when having to pass each other by they gave each other a wide berth.

Honey and the cats may never get along, but she can be taught to let the kitty alone... or kitty will teach her.

Until such time that Honey has learned to respect the cat, you'll probably have to keep them physically separated when no one is home to discipline Honey for going after the cat.

I hope that helps.

BTW... how are things going with the excessive barking? Did you try the sonic egg?

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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 09:00 AM

2. Weirdly, it seems like I only have to post a Honey problem here

and then she self-corrects. That's what happened with the barking - it pretty much stopped within 24 hours of my post here. And it seems to be working with the cats.

A couple things happened yesterday to give me much hope. First of all, we made a trip to PetSmart to get Bear an inflatable collar since he demolished the Cone of Shame trying to get through the dog door. The collars were right across from the cat cages of their adoptable cats. Honey was like, "ZOMG! There are CATS here! And they're not running! Cats are everywhere! Cool!" She wasn't at all aggressive, obsessive or otherwise inappropriate, she didn't jump on the cages, she just seemed interested to see cats exist outside our home. The second thing that happened was I tried a trick my friend told me about, feeding a treat to the dog in the cat's presence whenever the dog showed appropriate behavior toward the cat. As it happened, hot dogs did the trick. Both the cat and the dog like them, so they shared the treat. From that second forward, for the rest of the night, she'd walk by the cat's room, glance in, but keep walking. Even before bed, when I use the bathroom and one of the cats visits me in there, she usually stands at the door and stares at the cat. Last night she came to the door, looked at the cat, yawned, and just went to bed. I'll watch carefully over the next few days, but yesterday was really a remarkable and encouraging turn-around.

Here's my puppy pop psychology theory: she acts out worst when she's processing most, on the verge of a breakthrough in understanding. I, in turn, see that behavior and panic, but it turns out for naught. We'll see if I remember when whatever her next acting out adventure is.

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