Intro- the Household Kitty to a Newly Adopted dog
Introducing a new dog to the household kitty . I have in the past worked with a few new adopters to properly introduce their dog and the existing house cat. Also have introduced many creatures in my home, dogs to cats and ferrets and even some other little critters. One thing that came up, more than once, was a training method that I believe will increase the aggression/excitability with the cat. This method harshly corrects the dog because of the kitty by placing the dog in the crate or on a prong collar and if the dog reacts to the cat use the prong as correction or a water bottle to squirt the dog in the face sometimes when the dog is in the crate. These methods will increase the problem! By using harsh correction when the dog sees the cat, the cat becomes the POINT OF CONFLICT. In other words the dog thinks: “Every time I see that thing I get in trouble! So if I take out that “thing” the corrections will end!” This is a common and sometimes lethal mistake for handlers to make with new dogs of any age. And also in the same manner, this method will create child or dog aggression.. (By harshly correcting instead of teaching the dog the proper behavior) We must teach the dog that the cat is NOT the point of conflict, and that the cat is part of the new world the dog must accept. How? You may ask if the dog charges the cat how can we correct without creating resentment or pain? This is an easy fix if done fairly and with the proper tool, and that tool is a LEASH.
Simple, yet fair the leash does the correction while the new handler whistles Dixie. I have had wonderful results using this method with all kinds of dogs, from fuzzy mutts, to pit bull terriers. Some came in literally ready to eat kitty. And left walking around and totally ignoring kitty and allowing kitty to walk right up and onto their feet. This works! The Method –LEASH LEASH LEASH!!!!!!
Keep the new dog on leash in the house for a minimum (sometimes longer!) of two weeks. This keeps us from immediately correcting the new dog, giving the dog time to learn his new world and time for us to teach the proper behavior around the kitty. If he hops up with his feet on the counter we can say ONE TIME “off” and give the leash a tug and doggy has to come down. If the dog runs after kitty, we say one time, " LEAVE IT” and let the leash do the correction. The dog is literally correcting itself. For when it returns to the new handler, the dog gets a pat and simple praise (remember pets are praise just as food is)
So chasing kitty got him “gacked” at the end of the leash but coming back to his human got a nice reward of a pet! This does not mean yanking the dog off it’s feet using the leash but instead attach the leash to you or a strong furniture leg and be the immobile object that keeps the dog from reaching the cat. * A house leash more than 4 feet long is too much length to keep control of the situation and may let the dog build too much head start at the cat. Many dogs are curious, and that is ok, but we must remain in control of the situation. By allowing the dog to run and chase, we add excitement to the dog, anger to the human giving chase and more adreline to the dog running now from the human too. This becomes a game of sorts.. “weeeee “ says the dog !!! + " aaaagh! " says the cat! = increasing the problem And when we catch the dog we go into harsh or unfair correction, the dog does not understand yet that it is not acceptable to chase the cat. So we gack it with a prong or squirt it with water, or slam it down in a forced submission, the dog thinks the human is nuts! “Why is this crazy human doing this?”
The cat is now the point of conflict to the dog and the human looks like it is a bit nutty so the dog will feel free to make the decision to get rid the conflict and establish order in its pack. (Someone has to maintain order for the human leader is nutty!!!) We must remain calm and fair. Allowing curiosity but also controlling the entire moment.
Ignoring bad behavior, letting the dog correct itself on the leash but praising good behavior when it returns to you the dog quickly learns what it takes to please the calm fair leader.
In lieu of correction, give the dog a command, “come” – “sit’ and praise for good behaviors like ignoring the cat. Slowly we see the dog diffuse on the cat..it isn’t such a big deal after all. Some dogs need more time to realize this some take to it fast. We must read each dog as an individual and when the dog ignores the cat it can be time for more freedom about the house. Which could mean still on leash but just letting the dog drag it around (so we can quickly step on it)
If the dog starts to walk towards the cat and the handler can say “come” and the dog retreats to the human we know we have a success. The human is now more important and much nicer than chasing the cat (and being gacked by a leash). Time and Patience are keys! Remember new homes for a dog are stressful. Chasing cats and testing their new boundaries are normal for any dog. But we have to show them what is appropriate to chase (and where-outside and toys!) and where the boundaries are IN the house, at the humans side calm and well behaved.
Never use a crate to introduce the kitty to the dog, by dangling the cat in front of the crate the cat literally becomes bait. (yes someone was actually doing this) And when the dog barked this person would squirt the dog, increasing the conflict! This story ended with a dead cat even though we were making progress in the house after two weeks of leash time in the house. The dog lost its ho me and the cat lost its life. The worse of any outcomes.
BIG NOTE: Outdoor kitties are much the same but tend to trigger more prey drive from our dogs. A newly adopted dog, once calm in the house still may chase and hurt an outdoor cat running through the yard. We must take each environment as a place to overcome. So once the house is taught, if there is an outdoor cat, do the same with the leash in the yard. Please, do not expect the dog to carry over its house training to the yard, this is a deadly mistake. As the yard isn’t a place of calm and control, but a place of play and chase, kitty falls into this arena as a new toy. Use again the leash or lunge lines out doors just like in the house, but expect it to take longer, and be sure to give the kitty a safe place to get out of the line of fire. Cats and dogs can live happily together if we work at training and understanding our canine buddies and are fair in teaching them and don’t inadvertently teach our dog that the kitty is the point of all evil and correction
written by Stacie Sparks