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.

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.

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

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 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..

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 .

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.

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.

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

Willowisp Wed 16-Jan-13 22:53:30

Just wanted to say youve made the right decision & I'm surprised the rescue (was he a rescue ?) even considered homing that kind of dog to you ?

Oh I'm sorry to hear that, it must have been so hard for you.

Floralnomad Wed 16-Jan-13 15:48:36

Sounds like you have made a sensible decision , well done .

crockydoodle Wed 16-Jan-13 15:39:56

Sprinters/ collies should have fields to run around. I can't see how they would be suited to living in a townhouse.

bumpybecky Wed 16-Jan-13 15:23:14

final update - we returned him to the rescue people today and very much hope he can find his forever home soon sad

swanthingafteranother Mon 31-Dec-12 21:57:05

The other thing I remember was how excellent the recall of the visiting Springer was, even though he has only met me twice, he could be relied upon to come back from a long way off, once we had made friends smile. So maybe you don't need to worry about keeping on a lead forever. I may be wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he worked out I was looking after him, and how affectionate the bond was, that he wanted to return despite being unbelievably energetic (and having another owner)

swanthingafteranother Mon 31-Dec-12 21:51:10

Move litter tray upstairs (bathroom?) until problem solved? Let them in garden when you are at home, and he is indoors?

We once had visiting Springer for a few months in kitchen 9-3pm and we found it easier to just relocate cats (3 cats) upstairs whilst he was there,and going in and out of house etc, causing commotion. It was an issue as you say in the shortterm, but I know people with Springers and cats, and it has sorted itself out in the end. The cats are allowed upstairs, and the Springer isn't, so there is always a way to get away from him.

Another friend's cat used to use flat roof to get down into garden from a bedroom window hmm to avoid Springer, but as you say that isn't ideal if they can't jump.

bumpybecky Mon 31-Dec-12 17:53:16

the cats can't get up high - they're both 16+, Stupid has very poor muscle tone (she saw the vet a couple of months back, nothing seriously wrong, just down to laziness and lack of exercise) and Grumpy is terminally clumsy (always has been!)

the dog doesn't really get the chance to chase them - they stand their ground and screech, growl, hiss and swipe until we rescue them by removing the dog!

it's got to the point now that the dog spends lots of time running between the stair gate and cat flap looking for the cats and he will not settle if he thinks they're around sad he tried to bite DH earlier when we tried to move him from the back door where he was whining at the cat in the garden

in the first few days we were working on coming back when we called his name and also sit and down, he'd got quite good, but now he's far too busy hunting for cats to bother coming when I call him sad

even if we do get this sorted, we're never going to be able to leave him uncrated when I'm at work are we? we were intending to leave him with the run of downstairs, but the cats need access to this too so they can get to their food, litter tray and the garden.

I'm feeling very negative about this today. If we'd known he'd be like this we wouldn't have adopted him. He's a lovely dog, but I'm beginning to think we're not the right home for him sad

bottleofbeer Sun 30-Dec-12 20:59:27

My cat hissed and swiped every time the dog came near her in the early days. Regardless of whether he was paying attention to her or not. She is usually the most, placid, stupid cat who quite enjoys being carried around like a baby/pushed about in a doll's pram so this was unheard of behaviour from her.

She camps out upstairs now and is getting braver. Doesn't hiss or swipe unless he tries to chase her and tolerates him much more. I kind of expect as time goes on and she realises he's really not a threat she'll calm down much more. Of course if she runs he chases like it's a brilliant exciting game but he's now realising she's not particularly interested in playing with him so he's getting less and less interested. Hopefully it's just a simple case of giving it time for you too.

OnaPromise Sat 29-Dec-12 19:30:57

countrykitten - the rescue he came from test them with cats first, and then he was in a foster home with a cat for a bit before he came to us. They said the dogs who come from that particular trainer are often trainable with cats - to do with how they are trained from pups, apparently. Then I just did what they told me to do, and it has all been fine.

Floralnomad Sat 29-Dec-12 16:36:58

As your cats sound quite brave I'm sure you will be able to crack this but please don't ever be blasé about it even if they seem like they are getting along. An acquaintance of ours thought she had 'cracked it' with her Patterdale pup and cat until she came home one day to find the dog had mauled the cat , fortunately it could be saved and the dog was rehomed.

countrykitten Sat 29-Dec-12 16:28:20

OnaPromise I am impressed! I have a friend who rescues greyhounds and she will not ever risk them with small furry things. Hers will chase and eat squirrels and even ate a friend's guinea pig. You are clearly a brave lady and a talented dog trainer!

When we got our new dog we had similar problems. We read somewhere that to start off with we should put the cat in a cat carrier so he was safe no matter what the dog did, put the dog on lead and then click and treat for ignoring the cat carrier. Once he'd got used to ignoring the cat in its box we then progressed to having him on lead and getting closer to the cat until we could eventually let him off in the same room.

He's now very good friends with the cat and doesn't really chase him, the exception being, strangely, when we pick the cat up, which makes him loopy again. In general though he's a million times better. I think part of the training process is actually about training the cat not to be freaked out by the dog and learn that we won't let him hurt him, which makes them more relaxed and less likely to do the running off which starts the dog off!

onlyoneboot Sat 29-Dec-12 13:54:45

Have your cats got high places they can get to easily? I put a bed on top of the fridge when we got our dog and one of the cats practically lived up there for the first weeks observing the newcomer. Luckily for the cats our dog was too scared to go upstairs for the first 5 weeks so the cats could hide up there too. 3 months on now, and there is the odd chase or attempt to play but generally they are tolerating each other. The other day I found the three of them sitting in the kitchen together, passing the time of day quite happily. With a bit of time and lots of exercise it should all settle down. Get well soon.

OnaPromise Sat 29-Dec-12 10:37:15

We have recently adopted an ex racing greyhound and have a cat. The advice we were given by the rescue was about identical to what poachedeggs has said and it has worked. Greyhounds have a penchant for chasing furry things obviously.

We have also been looking at Sophia Yin.

Good luck.

countrykitten Sat 29-Dec-12 10:35:42

God my spaniels love cheese - it's a great training tool! Glad that you are sticking with him which is hard when another person is being down about it all.

Within four weeks our mad cat chasing spaniel had settled down, realised who was in charge (the cats followed by me!) and the household became a sane place again. I look back on the whole episode now with a little smile because he is a different dog but I do remember how bloody stressful and hard it all was. What I think I did not realise at the time was how very stressful he found being in rescue and then being rehomed and how this affected his behaviour - he was constantly fired up but. When he 'gets' that you are his family and that he is going nowhere I think he will also start to relax and calm down. It really won't take too long.

poachedeggs Sat 29-Dec-12 08:38:19

Gate is a great idea paddy. Gives him the chance to see cats and demonstrate calm behaviour, while allowing the cats to gain confidence so they're not always running (which he will find extremely stimulating).

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