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Step by step, please

(4 Posts)
OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 21-Dec-10 01:35:59

Some of the posts on the CM thread tonight made me realise that maybe I don't have to live like this anymore...

I have a 10 yo ex-farm, failed-sheepdog Border collie bitch, who, over the last seven years with our family, has become the most fabulously gentle house pet ever.

The only issue is that she's terrified of cats; I don't know why, I can only think that she had this fear when we first rehomed her at the age of three. But we didn't have cats then.

My son found a seriously-injured feral kitten (we live rurally, it wasn't a pet) about five years ago; we paid the vets fees to save his life and, because I don't believe in "only kittens" (and because actually ime, two kittens are less hassle than one) rehomed another feral farm kitten of similar age. They are gorgeous family pets, now.

However, I was shock that, when first introduced, the collie snapped at the injured kitten, which was in my husband's hands at the time, not bugging the dog. (Though it was above her head.)

We've kept them separate since; a few attempts at introducing them have led to the collie pressing up against the door to get out, plainly scared, with the cats "stalking" her (because they're curious/stupid, one of each grin) and I'm scared that she'd snap again out of fear. Having seen her kill a mouse with one bite, I have unpleasant visions of the feline equivalent. A collie has Big Jaws.

It's not difficult to keep them apart, and the collie does a studied 180 degree turn from cats if she sees them outdoors (you can almost see her whistle nonchalantly). But it would be nice to have them all together in the livingroom of an evening.

So, to the point.

Treats if she acts well in the presence of cats, yes?

She presses up against the door to get out. What do I do from there?

minimu1 Tue 21-Dec-10 14:02:07

oh I love collies and their sensitive nature. I have one that has found the scariest dutbin ever- no it is really really really scary!

This will work but not overnight and will need a little bit of perservance from you. but the scary dustbin now for my collie is the best place on the walk!

Step 1 someone hold the cat outside of the room but so the collie can see it so maybe through a window.
One person inside with the collie ignores the cat but clicks and treats the collie. (if you don't use a clicker it will take a bit longer but just treat).

The dog may not take the treats so you could try just playing her favourite game.

When the dog is happy with the cat outside of the room you can bring the cat a bit nearer. (Would the cat go in a travelling cage? if so I would put the cat in the travelling cage and put where the dog can not get it - again play or click and treat the dog. Or maybe someone hold the cat but much further away or walks into the room with the cat and then immediately walks out again.

What you are doing is showing the dog that when the cat is around great things happen. Over time the dog will see the cat and turn to you for a game or treats. As the dog gets more confident you can sometimes play and sometimes keep her guessing.

I played with my dog near the dustbin started about 200ft away then moved nearer and nearer. Now when I walk near the dustbin he runs back to me all excited and reminds me that I have to play!

If she presses against the door to get away from the cat you are going a bit too fast so you will need to increase the distance between the cat and the dog eg outside the window to start with. Very important that you do not react to her being nervous and be upbeat and jolly.

Your gut reactions were spot on lucky dog now you could have gone for the e collar!!!!!

When the dog gets happier try to have the cat in the room when the dog is eating again cat means good things. Don't rush it go nice and slowly and it will work.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 21-Dec-10 14:22:05

I'd never have gone for an e-collar! <shudders>

I actually used Jan Fennel's methods (I know, outdated, nothing new etc, but it's kind and it worked for me) to change her from an outdoor farm dog to a fantastic indoor pet; no chewing or anxiety issues, and I can leave food out on any surface other than the floor, and she won't touch it. (The very first thing she did when she arrived at my home was steal my dinner so that's a huge improvement for me!)

She's never really been into playing all that much (though a well-inflated rugby ball outdoors is fun) so I think I'll concentrate on food rewards.

And I'll look out the cat carrier, but with the upheaval due over the next couple of weeks I'll wait till New Year to start. There's no rush after all these years, after all!


OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 22:28:31

My DH accidentally let the collie into the livingroom while the cats were still there tonight. The cats were asleep on the sofa and completely unbothered, but the dog burst straight into my office (off the livingroom, a door she can open easily) to avoid them. She knew there was food available in the livingroom and gave that up rather than share space with sleeping cats.

I'm going to have my work cut out, eh? grin

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