having trouble with new dog and existing cats in the house

(33 Posts)
bumpybecky Fri 28-Dec-12 20:37:41

We adopted our dog a week ago. He's a springer collie cross and about a year old. He's lovely but we are having big problems with his attitude towards our cats.

He was brought here to meet them before we adopted him and he was interested then, but he's getting worse not better. He has literally been jumping over sofas to get to the cats who went behind. DH has had a mug of hot coffee knocked into his lap as the dog decided to leap onto the sofa in pursuit of a cat.

Grumpy cat has drawn blood swiping the Peanut the dog's nose four times now and it's not deterring him. Even Stupid cat who is the most placid thing ever has swiped and hissed (I've never seen her do that to anyone / thing).

We'd been trying to keep him on the lead when the cats were about so we could control him better, but he's decided that unless we're out walking leads are for chewing hmm

We'd been advised to distract him with toys / treats when the cats were about and at first this seemed possible, but it's working less and less well. He gets totally fixated on the cats and what they're doing. He just ignores all attempts to gain his attention. This evening I've ended up putting him in his crate just to break the cycle of him running from the stair gate to the cat flap and back looking for the cats. We don't think he's being aggressive, he just wants to play, but he's far too much for the cats.

We were also told to use a bottle with gravel in to tell him off (occasionally as it'd stop working if overused). The problem with this is that it also scares the cats who then run, so Peanut chases.

We're in a town house and have a stair gate on the middle floor, so at the moment the dog is confined to the downstairs and the cats are staying on middle and top floors unless the dog is out on a walk or in his crate.

I've done a bit of googling and understand teaching 'leave it' is important, but frankly he is so obsessed I'm not sure leave it is going to be enough.

We are beginning to think we are not the right home for him and that he'll never be able to live with cats. I know it's only been a week, but it's getting worse not better sad

I can't believe I've just typed all of that. I'm in tears about the whole situation. I will be contacting the rescue for advice, but know they're really busy and it'll be a while before I get through to them. I'm really hoping someone here has some advice.

Bumpy - I'm really sorry this has happened. You've tried so hard to make this work.

bumpybecky Wed 16-Jan-13 23:27:47

He was (is) a rescue dog and while he's a collie cross, so was our last (very well behaved!) dog so we are experienced owners.

I'm think with time he could have improved with the cats, but in the meantime we were not prepared to cope with the chaos. We've had a dog jumping right over the sofa with small people on it and last night over the kitchen table mid meal, all so he could get his nose scratched by the cat. We've also had problems with the cat behaviour - although Grumpy was very confident, Stupid was not so happy and had started to use the children's bedroom as a toilet sad

I'm sure with hindsight the rescue regret rehoming him with us too - this isn't the outcome any of us wanted obviously. He's a lovely dog, very friendly and was starting to learn some manners so obviously trainable. Hopefully he'll find a more suitable home very soon.

gymmummy64 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:43:08

We too had huge problem with our rescue and our existing cat, despite the rescue saying he was cat friendly. I can relate to so much of what you say and the completely uncontrollable dog - eg your sofa incident. Despite what people have said upthread about things settling down within a few weeks and dog and cat making friends, that's not my experience. We are 4 months in and yes, we have made huge progress in a relative sense, but it's still far from ideal. After a spell barricaded in DD2's bedroom, the cat now lives in the bathroom with her litter tray and while she's in there the dog is now ok. He no longer fixates on her, drools and trembles and is immune to commands, treats and distractions. I no longer worry he will eat her. We no longer have to go backwards into the bathroom and slam the door whilst fending off a manic hound.

However, take her out of the bathroom and she becomes a new cat - we're back to the obsessional excitement. My dog is either a hard core case or deeply stupid, difficult to say which!

So I guess the point of posting this is to say that it wouldn't necessarily have been a matter of lasting just a bit longer. It's taken us 4 months to get to this point and it's still far from ideal. I would dearly love to get the cat out of the bathroom and have her back on my bed, but I can't see it happening any time soon. Plus I hate having baths and smelling cat poo! I certainly couldn't have done all this if the kids had been younger. One mistake with gates and doors was made early on and the cat ended up in the dog's jaws, mercifully ok as DD1 had the presence of mind to throw her Blackberry at the dog and he dropped her. DD2 then swooped in and pulled him away. Both girls absolutely hated the incident though with DD1 going into real shock for the rest of the evening. I wouldn't have wanted another incident like it. So very sad, but the right decision for you.

Floralnomad Sat 19-Jan-13 14:11:14

gymmummy I think you've sadly got a dog like ours that is never going to improve. Fortunately we didn't have a cat as my dog can't tolerate even beings the same road as one , but 2.6 yrs into dog ownership he's still obsessed with our rabbit , even though he is behind bars . We even had to put a wooden bar across the front of the cage as he learnt how to open the doors . When the rabbit is in his outdoor pen even though they are separated by two 4.5foot fences and he is not visible to the dog I still have to supervise the dog in the garden as he is completely obsessed and although he would not normally jump the fences he will to get the rabbit. In our case I just put it down to his terrier instincts .

Willowisp Sat 19-Jan-13 14:30:34

gymmummy64 how do you cope ?

I have a rescue dog which was understood to be fine with cats because she was & still is quite anxious. My cat took one look at her when she arrived & hissed at her. Dog will chase any cats in the garden & whilst nowhere near your situation, I did & do have moments when I worry. We had a go at clicker training but couldn't quite get to grips with it & I did have a couple of moments where I thought I can't cope with this & dog will have to go.

Then something happened one day & I screamed at dog "Don't you ever DARE do that" (like she could understand the words). Anyway, the upshot is that she doesn't dare do anything again, cat will frequently rub her nose along dogs mouth (why ? i think it maybe some sort of cat kiss) & dog stays very still, licking her lips & we say "good girl" to which she wags her tail, so assuming ok.

Cat likes her daily cuddles & will snuggle up to me, so dog is relegated to foot end of sofa.

I suppose the hierarchy is me, DH, DC's & cat...then dog ! I hope we don't go backwards though..

gymmummy64 Sat 19-Jan-13 19:07:59

It's a good question Willowisp!

There have been a number of occasions over the last 4 months where I've been quite convinced I've actually gone mad. I know that is the view of several of my visitors!

However, we couldn't bear to lose either of them and we've managed to convince ourselves to keep going every time we've had a crisis. And we have made progress, albeit only in the bathroom! If we'd made no progress at all then no, they wouldn't both be still here.

Also our dog does have a rather lengthy list of issues, a lot of the time the cat has felt like the least of our worries!

Willowisp Sat 19-Jan-13 20:32:13

It's a tough one isn't it ? I was advised to buy a lunge lead so in the event of a chase, I could grab at it, but we managed without it.

Not sure what breed of dog you have but I do know of a bull terrier who 'played' with the pet cat...very sad to say cat's injuries were very bad & he was put to sleep.

Mine sleep in the same room & I just have to believe ok - there is an exit for cat & dog has a crate to sleep in (she stays in it), door open.

I guess we just love 'em ! grin

bumpybecky Sat 19-Jan-13 23:03:42

gymmummy - good luck! I hope gymdog continues to calm down and that the cat can come out of the bathroom full time!

your situation would not have worked for us - Grumpy cat simply would not have tolerated being kept in one room. He was not willing to change his normal routine and was coming in and out of rooms as normal and just going for the dog if their paths crossed. Grumpy cat has been known to launch himself (claws out) at Stupid cat and people when he's bored and wants some fun! he was good friends with our last dog, but she understood from the beginning that Grumpy was in charge.

I hope that in the future we do find a dog that will be more suitable for our household. We're going to leave it a few months until we start looking again.

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