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How can I make her shut up?

(11 Posts)
truckletheuncivil Sun 20-Mar-16 08:18:52

Just what it says, really. Our dog won't stop yapping at everything our cats.

The dog is a cocker spaniel who we've had for 3 months. She's 2 but had never seen a cat before we brought her home. She. Will. Not. Leave. Them. Alone. If she can see them she's barking at them, if she can't see them she's looking for them.

We did the introduction the way the experts say to do it, slowly, on a lead, and with lots of food rewards for good behaviour. Bloody hard to do when there's no good behaviour to reward. Basically, as far as she's concerned, cat > food every time. Also cat > any kind of discipline I try to apply. It's not like they even run away and give her something to chase. They've had enough and will now stand their ground with claws out, but she just won't stop.

I've had to physically separate them at all times. When the dog's in the house, the cats are sleeping up their tree or on a top bunk. When the cats need to be moving around she's either in her crate or outside. Either way there has to be a barrier (curtains, sheet over crate) so she can't see them, otherwise she goes off.

It's getting to a point where I'm considering rehoming her, or asking her previous owners if they'd like to take her back. Any last-ditch suggestions?

LetThereBeCupcakes Mon 21-Mar-16 11:50:53

We did the introduction the way the experts say to do it, slowly, on a lead, and with lots of food rewards for good behaviour. Bloody hard to do when there's no good behaviour to reward.

It sounds like you might have to break it down further for her. You need to find something that she CAN do, to give her a chance of getting it right and being rewarded. So if the cats were loose in the house and you brought her in on lead, perhaps try arranging things to she can perhaps see the cats through a window, a little further away. Or find something that smells of the cat and reward her lots for being around that (blanket or collar, perhaps).

Does she have a solid Sit or Down? You could try putting her in a position, keeping her attentions with treats as somebody walks past with cat in arms. Keep dog on lead obviously to prevent her leaping at the person though!

Try and figure out exactly where it gets "too much" for her, then go a step back. If she's in a frenzy of excitement trying to get to your cats you've got no chance, really.

What sort of training does she have so far, anything you can utilise?

truckletheuncivil Mon 21-Mar-16 12:36:55

She has basic obedience - sit, stand, drop, heel. Sit and stay is dodgy, as is anything else requiring her to focus for more than a couple of seconds. Keeping her in any one position requires constant intervention. My daughter was taking her to training but got so frustrated with her that she stopped going.

We spent a couple of weeks distracting her with treats any time the cats were near. As long as we're right on top of her with the distraction we can mostly keep her attention provided the cat doesn't move. The moment there's movement we've lost her, she has eyes only for the cat. I guess that's the point where it becomes too much for her. How to deal with that? I've yet to find a way to make a cat stay still.

We had to bring her in earlier than usual today because of the weather. Both cats ended up at the top of their tree, even with five of us trying to keep an eye on her, and she and the bolder cat had a confrontation with the dog trying to scale the tree and the cat climbing down to attack her.

I had springers years ago (with a crazy bird prey drive that didn't extend to cats) but she's my first cocker. Based on my experiences with her so far I think "merry cocker" needs to be replaced with "stubborn, scatty cocker" hmm

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Mon 21-Mar-16 12:42:43

Have you tried putting stones in a bottle and shaking it every time she barks

JohnCusacksWife Mon 21-Mar-16 14:05:01

it doesn't sound like its training you need but rather a behaviourist who can give you the tools you need to teach her to be less reactive to the cats. Please, please don't use aversive techniques like stones in bottles or "pet correctors".

BertieBotts Mon 21-Mar-16 14:11:48

This is pretty good. He's a positive trainer and shows how to break it down into those little steps/what to reward - there will always be things which can be rewarded.

It might be that there are other things which need cementing first before you can tackle the cat issue.

BertieBotts Mon 21-Mar-16 14:12:17

Sponsor bit is usually about 1 minute, you can skip it.

TheDogsCat Tue 22-Mar-16 01:36:36

Try looking up clicker training and possibly consider contacting a qualified behaviourist.

You said it's difficult to reward her for good behaviour around cats. So maybe try rewarding for less. She has to stop barking occasionally, if only to breathe! Then reward that millisecond pause.

I have no idea if it would be practical (or what your cat would say about the idea), but the first time my dog was able to behave around a cat was in a vet waiting room of all places. The cat was in a carrier, which meant he could see the cat but neither him or the cat could interact with each other.

And as PPs have said do NOT use punishment. The last thing you want is a dog that thinks the cat is responsible for the aversive. Plus, it's a lot easier to fix mistakes from badly timing a reward than a badly timed correction.

BernardsarenotalwaysSaints Tue 22-Mar-16 08:59:24

Sorry truckle I've no advice for you just wanted to thank bertie for the YouTube link, he also does a guide for dogs that are nervous with visitors that I think will help me smile

puffylovett Tue 22-Mar-16 09:21:01

It took a while for my old dog to settle down around our cats, in the end she had no choice as my male cat decided her bed was his bed - he's like an Exocet missile, looking for heat! It might just need more time. That's not really very helpful is it!

truckletheuncivil Tue 22-Mar-16 09:35:38

I echo the thanks to Bertie for the YouTube link. I've only had time to watch the first bit but it does look useful.

Your suggestions may have come too late in any case. We discovered this morning that our smaller cat, who was already naturally thin, has lost over 10% of his bodyweight, we think from stress (the vet could find no other explanation). We could persist with training but it would mean more time with the cats being stressed and their health potentially suffering. We're in discussions with another family who have a cat-free home (and another cocker for her to play with). If I'm happy with the home they can offer her she will be moving in the next few days.

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