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Please help - urgent

(8 Posts)
slinkyboo Sat 23-Jul-11 08:07:39

We have had our rescue puppy for five weeks now. One of the reasons we chose him is because he was apparently good with cats and we have two. However, he chases them when in the garden and it's making the cats very withdrawn and stressed. He is ok in the house and, although clearly tempted, seems to control himself except on a few occasions when he has run at them. But outside is
another matter. We shout at him when he chases them but this only adds stress to the terrified cat as well, with us shouting.
Worst of all one of the cats has two puncture marks on her back. We are going to vet this morning. DH convinced that it was the dog. A friend has suggested a soft muzzle for the garden but that won't stop the chasing. I've also thought of a puppy pen for outside but obviously the dog can't be confined to it all the time we are in the garden.
Please help. Our cats have been with us for 8 years and the puppy seems to be turning into 'the bad guy' especially in DH's eyes as their personalities are being adversely affected. I just wish puppy would ignore them. Btw he is 21 weeks old.
Thank you for any advice - I'm sitting here crying as I write this, very pathetic but it's such a stressful situation.

midori1999 Sat 23-Jul-11 08:24:59

He's a puppy, he chases, they run. Then sometimes just to add tp it you start shouting too. Of course he's going to do it, it's great fun for a pup!

I really doubt a puppy is fast enough to catch a cat or would leave two puncture marks though. Most dogs aren't capable of catchng a cat.

You need to train him to leave the cats. Put him on a lead and keep his attention with lots of treats. Everytime he ignores the cats and looks at you, praise him and reward him. If he pays attention to the cats, call his name and when he looks at you, praise him lots and give treat. Do it lots and when you are confident he is consistently and routinely ignoring the cats you can try it on a longline, so he has more freedom but you still have some control. Then, once again, once he is consistent, try with him loose. It might take a lot of time and patience.

It's important while you are training him to make sure he can never be given the opportunity to chase the cats as it will reinforce the behaviour and make it much harder to teach him not to.

slinkyboo Sat 23-Jul-11 10:11:36

Thank you so much Midori. Very sound advice. I'd not thought about limiting the puppy.
Just back from vet, she thoinks the wounds are a cat bite so that's a bit of a relief.
Off to buy more pup stuff.

QuietTiger Sat 23-Jul-11 12:01:19

Is the puppy allowed all over the house with the cats? If yes, what I would suggest (knowing cat behaviour) is that you confine the puppy to one area that the cats can escapem from and get away from the puppy.

When I introduced a "cat chasing" collie (same senario as your puppy, OK in the house, a PITA in the garden if she thinks she can get away with it!), we put a child stair gate at the bottom of the stairs with a rung missing so that the cats could get through. They then have/had the upstairs to themselves where they learned that they would not be disturbed by the dog and it was their "safe" zone.

(The cats also learned very quickly that they could sit one side of the gate and bop collie noses very hard with their paws without being chased!! grin)

Lots and lots of Feliway diffuser too. Put the food and litter trays in a area that the puppy absolutely cannot get to and give the cats "safe routes" to the outside (i.e. puppy free routes) and between the food source, so that they don't have to tackle the puppy, except on their terms. Also, reassure the cats. Is the puppy crated at all? If you have him crate trained, it might be worth having a puppy "time out" at some point in the day, where the cats learn that pup can't get to them. You'd be suprised at how quickly cats pick up the routine.

Good luck! (And thank you for homing a rescue dog!)

slinkyboo Sat 23-Jul-11 12:13:12

Thank you - more great advice. Pup is not allowed upstairs or downstairs (our house has three floors). He has been sneaking down, though, and we are going to put a stairgate on the basement stairs to put a stop to it. (the cats are fed down there and he sneaks down to steal their food). Up till now cats have not really been allowed to sleep upstairs (I'm asthmatic and like upstairs pet-free) but I think I may have to tweak things a bit and put a cat bed up there. I really don't want cats on the actual beds though!

QuietTiger Sat 23-Jul-11 12:19:34

In that case, is it a "town house" you are in? I would suggest a stair gate so that the cats can get up the stairs, past the puppy zone and know that he can't get to them. Take a rung out of the stair gate - you'll be suprised at how quickly the cats work out where the gap is to get through. (I had to do that as I have one particularly clutsy and arthritic tub of lard cat who couldn't jump the stair gate)

Keep bedroom doors closed and put a cat bed on the top landing in a position that is sheltered, but a cat can survey what is going on - e.g. tucked into the corner, next to the banisters so your cats can see the stairs, IYSWIM?

Best of luck!

slinkyboo Sat 23-Jul-11 23:26:24

Thank you again smile
No not a town house but a detached house in France where many houses have large basements.
Cat base in landing sounds very doable - thank you.
We have visitors at the mo who have said how well behaved and calm our pup seems to be...a bit of perspective I think! Thank you again and fingers crossed we can do what we need to and that our rescue pup learns quickly.

slinkyboo Tue 26-Jul-11 20:42:36

Just to update - I really appreciated the replies as I was very stressed!
We have been supervising pup much more closely and we now have a fixed post in the garden where we tie him occasionally on a long chain if we are all in the garden, so he cannot chase the cat. If she appears indoors in front of him I call him and then praise him when he looks at me. DH has also fixed a pet gate at the top of the basement stairs which cats can get through and not pup so he cannot go down and scoff their food.
Finally, there is a cosy new cat bed in our bedroom...of course the sodding darling cat has ignored it completely and keeps trying to curl up on our bed. I'm still working on that one as I refuse to wheeze all night!
Thanks again grin

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