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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-17-2018, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy is obsessed with cats

I’m uncertain on what to do. We have a four month old puppy who is obsessed with cats. It’s completely playful and non aggressive. Lots of tail wagging and play bowing. Even when she is right next to them, no biting - just sniffing. The cats have gotten used to her (kept the puppy on a leash for ages while house training), and they rarely run from her now but will mostly just stand their ground since they know the puppy won’t hurt them and won’t bite.

BUT she’s a little too focused on the cats. And sometimes she’ll try to chase them. I intervene ASAP but the cats occasionally run. What should I do? Should I put her back on a leash? The cats don’t love being on the floor and I want to get everything calm again so they’ll be relaxed. They have lots of gated rooms and spaces to be free of the pup of course.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-18-2018, 11:20 AM
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Your puppy wants to play.... Puppy needs exercise and the cats are it. Personally I feel they have to reach an understanding themselves. Most of the time the cats know where to go so the dog can not reach them. Keeping an eye on things is a must. Try to start teaching your puppy what it is you expect from her...
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-18-2018, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Your puppy wants to play.... Puppy needs exercise and the cats are it. Personally I feel they have to reach an understanding themselves. Most of the time the cats know where to go so the dog can not reach them. Keeping an eye on things is a must. Try to start teaching your puppy what it is you expect from her...
I’m home with her all day so she gets a ton of exercise and training all the time. But even when she’s just come in from a walk, she fixates on the cats immediately. Sigh.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-18-2018, 08:41 PM
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I’m home with her all day so she gets a ton of exercise and training all the time. But even when she’s just come in from a walk, she fixates on the cats immediately. Sigh.
This may sound a tad counterintuitive, so bear with me. Unless you drive to and from the place where you talk your walks, she's coming in still excited by (wired from?) the walk. The walk may have taken some of the edge off, but if it was enjoyable, it probably also was exciting. IOW, the engine's still running --- especially if she saw or encountered SQUIRRELS during the walk. So, of course she fixates on the cats when she comes in. You've warmed her up.

Consider crating her as soon as you come in from walkies. Don't unleash her, just take her to her water dish, then directly to the crate, and put her inside with a treat. You could say (in a happy voice), "Place or Nap Time!" Or some such thing. Leave her there to rest and remain quiet for 20-30 minutes. Your goal here is to teach her that exercise/training is followed by quiet periods (aka self-control) and that focussing on cats (excited or not) is a nonstarter.

Next, during your training sessions, work on teaching and proofing the "leave it" command. There are lots of good youtube videos on this. It's a handy tool to have and, over time and with consistency, generalizes well to a wide variety of temptations (including cats), at home and outside.

Finally, make sure that the cats have a good escape route in every room of the house. You may need to gate off several rooms (or floors) to limit the pup's access until she learns that cats aren't to be chased. Or, make sure that the cats have easy access to stable heights that the pup can't reach (e.g., secured bookcases). Worst case scenario, while the cat escapes, you can practice your "leave it" command with the pup. Best case scenario, you intervene with the "No! Leave It!" and "Come" commands the second before the pup starts her laser-like death stare. That's hard to do at first, but your best success will come from early interventions like that.

ETA: I've always had dogs and cats. The combo has worked (with one exception) because I insist that the dogs NOT pay attention to the cats. It may seem like benign interest now, but it can quickly turn unfortunate until acceptable behaviors are firmly established. Even if the interest is playful, keep in mind that the size differential can lead to tragic consequences. Best to intervene/train now, before that disparity grows larger.

Good luck!
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Last edited by Aly; 12-18-2018 at 08:45 PM. Reason: add'l thoughts..
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-19-2018, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by germanshepowner View Post
I’m home with her all day so she gets a ton of exercise and training all the time. But even when she’s just come in from a walk, she fixates on the cats immediately. Sigh.
This may sound a tad counterintuitive, so bear with me. Unless you drive to and from the place where you talk your walks, she's coming in still excited by (wired from?) the walk. The walk may have taken some of the edge off, but if it was enjoyable, it probably also was exciting. IOW, the engine's still running --- especially if she saw or encountered SQUIRRELS during the walk. So, of course she fixates on the cats when she comes in. You've warmed her up. [IMG class=inlineimg]/forum/images/Germanshepherds_2016/smilies/tango_face_wink.png[/IMG]

Consider crating her as soon as you come in from walkies. Don't unleash her, just take her to her water dish, then directly to the crate, and put her inside with a treat. You could say (in a happy voice), "Place or Nap Time!" Or some such thing. Leave her there to rest and remain quiet for 20-30 minutes. Your goal here is to teach her that exercise/training is followed by quiet periods (aka self-control) and that focussing on cats (excited or not) is a nonstarter.

Next, during your training sessions, work on teaching and proofing the "leave it" command. There are lots of good youtube videos on this. It's a handy tool to have and, over time and with consistency, generalizes well to a wide variety of temptations (including cats), at home and outside.

Finally, make sure that the cats have a good escape route in every room of the house. You may need to gate off several rooms (or floors) to limit the pup's access until she learns that cats aren't to be chased. Or, make sure that the cats have easy access to stable heights that the pup can't reach (e.g., secured bookcases). Worst case scenario, while the cat escapes, you can practice your "leave it" command with the pup. Best case scenario, you intervene with the "No! Leave It!" and "Come" commands the second before the pup starts her laser-like death stare. That's hard to do at first, but your best success will come from early interventions like that.

ETA: I've always had dogs and cats. The combo has worked (with one exception) because I insist that the dogs NOT pay attention to the cats. It may seem like benign interest now, but it can quickly turn unfortunate until acceptable behaviors are firmly established. Even if the interest is playful, keep in mind that the size differential can lead to tragic consequences. Best to intervene/train now, before that disparity grows larger.

Good luck!
Thank you! I’ve been interrupting the hyper focus obsssively, but it’s been harder.. I’ve realized she just LOVES the cats. She’s started to imitate their behaviors which is hilarious to watch. She’ll bat at things or stalk her food bowl. Last night, she just sat by the cat and licked the side of her face super slowly trying to imitate them, and the cat turned and cleaned her ears a little while the puppy sat calmly. But I’ve always had dogs that ignored cats so trying to achieve that.

So she knows leave it. but only if I’m holding a high value treat in my hand. I’ll work on researching how to improve that!

And thank you about the tip about catching interest before she gets focused!
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-19-2018, 12:30 PM
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Reading your latest update, it sounds like it's going well. If you are really worried about it, put her back on leash. My pup is 5 months, he'll ignore the cats sometimes, and sometimes he goes up to them wanting to play. He's getting good at leaving them alone when I say "AACK!" My girl cat has been hiding in the laundry room for the last 6 weeks - occasionally coming out for pets (I go in there and give her attention/food multiple times a day). I feel bad, but it will just take time for her to get used to a new pup.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-19-2018, 01:43 PM
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Here are a couple of videos showing how to teach "Leave It;" the second uses a clicker to good effect.



About "loving" the cats...I'd be careful not to over interpret (anthropomorphize?) what you're seeing just now. Your pup is still young and her relationship with the cats is still actively developing. She may come to love the cats, but right now it's a little too soon to tell, IMO. Most importantly, you don't want her to discover that the cat that's fun to lick (right now) is even more fun to chase and, worse yet, the best fun to toss around. With cats and dogs that seem to really like each other, I emphasize/demand a quiet relationship. No play bows, no pawing, and certainly no actions that would initiate chase games. I'm stricter with the dog than with the cat because of that size differential. Also, because I want the dog to understand that no matter how provocative the cat is and no matter what the cat does, s/he (the dog) cannot retaliate.

This approach takes time and may require endless repetitions, but it has worked well for me over the years. Well, except in the one instance I mentioned. That was a bull-headed terrier mix with an ungodly amount of prey drive. Fortunately/unfortunately he tried to have it on with my outsized MCC who grew up in whatever would be the equivalent of ****'s Kitchen. Cat cleaned the dog's clock...three times. Dog never really gave up, so I just upped my gating system.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-19-2018, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Katsugsd View Post
Reading your latest update, it sounds like it's going well. If you are really worried about it, put her back on leash. My pup is 5 months, he'll ignore the cats sometimes, and sometimes he goes up to them wanting to play. He's getting good at leaving them alone when I say "AACK!" My girl cat has been hiding in the laundry room for the last 6 weeks - occasionally coming out for pets (I go in there and give her attention/food multiple times a day). I feel bad, but it will just take time for her to get used to a new pup.
It’s going better for sure! Our trainer suggested a few tips and it’s helping. I may just put her back on a leash.. I hope your situation gets better soon too!

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Here are a couple of videos showing how to teach "Leave It;" the second uses a clicker to good effect.



About "loving" the cats...I'd be careful not to over interpret (anthropomorphize?) what you're seeing just now. Your pup is still young and her relationship with the cats is still actively developing. She may come to love the cats, but right now it's a little too soon to tell, IMO. Most importantly, you don't want her to discover that the cat that's fun to lick (right now) is even more fun to chase and, worse yet, the best fun to toss around. With cats and dogs that seem to really like each other, I emphasize/demand a quiet relationship. No play bows, no pawing, and certainly no actions that would initiate chase games. I'm stricter with the dog than with the cat because of that size differential. Also, because I want the dog to understand that no matter how provocative the cat is and no matter what the cat does, s/he (the dog) cannot retaliate.

This approach takes time and may require endless repetitions, but it has worked well for me over the years. Well, except in the one instance I mentioned. That was a bull-headed terrier mix with an ungodly amount of prey drive. Fortunately/unfortunately he tried to have it on with my outsized MCC who grew up in whatever would be the equivalent of ****'s Kitchen. Cat cleaned the dog's clock...three times. Dog never really gave up, so I just upped my gating system.
Oh 100%. We are nipping everything in the bud. I even pulled her away from the cat when she laid down and put her head on it. I just can’t decide if she should go back on the leash 24/7. We’re lucky because although she’s a land shark to us, she’s insanely gentle with smaller pets. She’ll let 12 pound puppies climb all over her and she won’t even bite in play. Same with tiny dogs. And she never retaliates towards the cats either. (Hope that continues). I’m wondering if I should just put her on a leash all the time? I just want the Cats to feel totally comfortable again in their own house as soon as possible.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-20-2018, 08:14 AM
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... I’m wondering if I should just put her on a leash all the time? I just want the Cats to feel totally comfortable again in their own house as soon as possible.
Based on what you've described, I would leash or crate her when you can't supervise her. You also could use a long line (e.g., 10-20'), rather than a leash, which will give her more space but you still have control.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2019, 02:09 PM
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Based on what you've described, I would leash or crate her when you can't supervise her. You also could use a long line (e.g., 10-20'), rather than a leash, which will give her more space but you still have control.
Alternatively (although, crating is a pretty great option), consider giving the cat a space where it can be without worrying about the dog. We have a second floor where our cat gets to live and our GSD always wanted to chase her at first, but they started having these safe encounters and you can manage it and they start to get along.
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