Sorry to start two threads in one day. I know that's annoying, but I feel like this belonged in a different thread.
We got Godric on the 2nd, and he was 9.5 weeks old. He'll be exactly 11 weeks tomorrow (the 13th). So we've had him for 11 days. We don't know a whole lot about training, but I know that at his age, everything should be fun and positive, and building his confidence, and making sure he thinks he can do no wrong. So we almost never correct him - except with the cats.
I already have one dog (Vincent) that we were very easy on when it came to the cats (because he's such a love bug, it never seemed like an issue), and he always seemed really good with them. He grew up with them. But now we have to find him a home because he's killed two of my cats, and can't figure out why he's in trouble. He's sorta dense. He realizes you're upset and he's in trouble, but he can't for the life of him figure out what he did.
I know this is mostly my fault, and I should have trained him more when he was younger, but it's also because of stray cats that get in our backyard when we're asleep or gone. We find the dead cat hours or a day later, and how can you punish him then? So he had no consequences. Like I said, he's great with the cats INSIDE the house. If one accidentally gets outside, he thinks it's play time, and he kills it.
It's never vicious, and the skin is never broken, it's just chasing and playing way too rough. One cat slipped past us while we were carrying in groceries, and we had no idea. Afterward, we were being very careful going in or out the doors, and keeping track of the cats at all times, and were going to try to work on training with Vincent and cats. Then one of our door closes and even clicks, but it's not always completely closed. It's something with the latch or whatever. If it gets pushed from the inside, it'll pop open. Well, my other cat did that, and now he's dead too. It's all my fault, and I'm a bad mom. I was trying so hard to be careful and it wasn't hard enough.
Even if I was very careful, what are the chances that I won't make another dumb mistake in the next 10 years? I can't keep doing this with him and the cats. I have to worry if my kitty accidentally gets outside because my own dog
will kill it? That's
I've contacted around 5 different trainers in CA that do behavior modification, and they said that they can try to work on it in various ways, but really, I'm just hedging my bets, and hoping that if the situation arises, he'll make the right choice, and that can't be guaranteed. So he really can't be trusted, and we have to find him a new home.
It's horrible, and it breaks my
heart, because I love both him and my cats, and to choose between them isn't fair, but he's killed two! My MIL is fostering him for a while until we can find him a home, but she doesn't give him the affection and cuddles he wants, and he just doesn't understand. He's so sad to be left there. I am so worried about finding him a home, because she will only keep him temporarily, and I don't know anyone that will take him. He deserves better than a rescue, and the pound is out of the question. He needs tons of affection, since all he wants in life is to cuddle, and someone who will love him like he deserves.
I've been reading horror stories about decent people that adopt the dog, and then something happens, and they leave the dog with a family member who ends up terribly horribly abusing the dog. The only way I can guarantee that he'll be good is if I know the person he's going to. But everyone has cats! So I don't know. I'm hoping my MIL falls in love with him. Even though she's kinda sucky and won't give him all of the attention he wants, he'll be an indoor dog, and we can visit all the time.
Anyway, I will not make the same mistake with another dog, and maybe I'm harsh about it, but I'm also trying to be fair. So the only correction Godric gets is with the cats. He's not allowed to chase them or bark at them or bite at them, which seems reasonable to me.
I give him tons of praise and treats for being near them and being good, and not focusing on them, or when he's playing with his toys even though the cat is a foot away. If he gets focused on them or too rambunctious, I redirect him with a toy, or call him and let him chase me or something. But if he chases them and doesn't come when I call and ignores me, and tries to bite or jump on them, he gets a big "NO!" and a little whack on the butt. (This is the only time we've really even told him "no." He had no idea what it meant before.) He'll sit there and be sad for a second, and I'll either go get a toy and let him chase it, or I'll get the kitty and make him sit, and let him sniff the cat's butt, which is often why he was chasing it in the first place. When he acts good at such a close range, I praise him some more and let the cat go, and he lets it walk away, and either wanders off to do something, or stays to play with me, and I tell him what a good boy he is and treat him for leaving the cat alone. A couple of times, one of the cats has swished their tail, and he bit it, thinking it was a toy.
Is this wrong? We've only had him for a week and a half, and he seems to be doing really well with the cats in general. After a day or two, I've rarely had to correct him. It's praise and treats and socialization with the kitties more than anything. I care MUCH more about the lives of my kitties than I do about his drive or his future in schutzhund or protection. I know that we need to be bonding with him and not punishing him since he's new to us, and we spend lots of quality time with him and play and praise and treat him too.
I would love it if he knew the difference, and could love and play gently with our cats (like Victor does), but I'd rather he have zero interest in them than risk him hurting/killing them from playing too rough.
The other question is about dogs. He's pretty fearless, and besides accidentally getting stepped on once, he's had almost entirely positive experiences with dogs. My mom's little dog growled at him once, and he flipped out, snarling and everything. Otheriwse it's all been fun and games, and none of the dogs are really dominant, and none have tried to dominate him.
He runs right up to strange large dogs (though he's only been around the ones I know are safe), with no hesitation. But when he wants to play, he barks and growls and will often try to bite the larger dog's lip or foot as he prances around them. It's fine because he's tiny, but what about when he's older? Can this become aggressive? What should I do to make sure it doesn't?
As I said, I don't want to kill any drive and am looking to try schutzhund and am intending to do personal protection training when he's older, BUT first and foremost, he is to be an all-around family dog and companion. He MUST at least get along with other dogs when he gets older, even if he doesn't play.
Besides socialization, what else can I do? What behaviors should I look out for, and how should I handle them?
Any opinions and info are great. Thank you so much for the help, you guys!
You're all awesome.