Integrating dog and cats

(24 Posts)
billybagpuss Sat 30-Mar-19 07:10:34

Billypup has been with us a year now, we have 2 cats a BSH who is 9 and a standard moggy who is 12ish. I figured they’d all settle in together after a while. I was a tad naive. Dog is a border retriever.

I guess because of the breed, dog has a high prey drive. Which we are working on and it has massively improved but she’s very anxious whenever she sees the cats and wants to chase them. The cats are pathetic and won’t stand their ground.

Upstairs is a dog free zone, cats have food/water etc. I have refused to put a litter tray up there which has caused a few accidents when they’ve refused to come down if dog has been in hall.

This means we have settled into a routine, during the day cats have back garden and kitchen. Dog has lots of walks, hall and lounge. At night dog goes in crate in kitchen cats have free run of house. Ok unless dog is awake when they walk past crate then she goes ape and scares the cats.

I would like to try and integrate them a bit more as with summer coming up we are going to want the patio window in the lounge open, which gives dog access to the garden. She is actually most reactive when she can’t get to the cats but can see them. Ie they are the other side of the stair gate but that doesn’t stop their wariness as they don’t realise that yet.

I’m really open to any suggestions.

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TooOldForThisWhoCares Sat 30-Mar-19 15:49:10

I'm in a very similar position so will watch this with huge interest. We were advised to try taking our ddog into the kitchen on a lead (where our cats are on the table) and reward for behaviour which isn't stalky or staring etc. So if her attention goes to us, reward with food treat. If she barks or jumps at them she gets taken out for a minute. We are at the stage where she is loose in the kitchen and mostly ignoring them if they stay on the table and don't move! She chases if She s in the garden and we're trying very hard to break that as the more a dog chases cats the more the habit becomes ingrained. I think it'll be a long slow process and we also have 2 nervous cats. We've had our dog for 8 months.

lorisparkle Sat 30-Mar-19 16:30:12

We are in the same position. I have watched some Zak George YouTube videos but I think it is going to take some serious energy!

Littleduckeggblue Sat 30-Mar-19 16:35:53

I'm in the same position. 2 cats who now live upstairs as they refuse to come down and a dog that has the downstairs.
Watching this post with interest

Wolfiefan Sat 30-Mar-19 16:39:35

The cats aren’t being pathetic. And they need a litter tray. Poor things.
Cover crate or ensure the cats can’t walk past it at night.
I wouldn’t be leaving the door open. If the dog sees the cats, chases and grabs them then the cats could end up dead.
The look at me and get a treat when you see the cat is a good idea. A longline in the house can prevent chasing too.
I think it’s Blue Cross that have a good resource on this. Or try FB group dog training advice and support.
Some dogs can’t be trusted around cats.

BorderlineExperimental Sat 30-Mar-19 16:50:00

I agree with joining the FB group Dog Training Advice and Support, there's a really good article in the 'Files' section about keeping dogs, particularly those with a high prey drive, alongside cats.

Nettleskeins Sat 30-Mar-19 18:17:26

We have three cats. The puppy is only five months and a terrier mix, but presumably slightly lower prey drive than a full terrier. One cat is already coming to sit next to him, a slight distance. we separate them pretty much and litter tray and cat food is in a completely closed off area where the dog cannot get to it. But we don't really have the cats upstairs either because previously pre-dog, there were occasional wee accidents on the children's desks!!! (I think cats looked out the window and got too comfortable and lazy). The cats are tending to stay on higher levels downstairs and acclimatizing, we also plugged in adaptil which is working wonders, they seem very chilled out and "intrigued".

So far when puppy goes to chase them in the garden not that often we spend a lot of time saying leave it and giving him a high value treat when he leaves them alone. He is barking because he wants to play rather than eat them, and hopefully he will get bored of expecting play soon. Someone said to me, let them interact more and they will lose the "surprise/anxiety" factor that makes chasing fun.

Still, early days.


Nettleskeins Sat 30-Mar-19 18:22:52

I'm sitting here now, the dog is in a crate at my feet, and can see the cat on the sofa next to me. There is no barking, and no tension between them, but presumably it is because the cat knows he's "safe" and the dog knows He is safe too. My experience of cats being chased is quite often the dog is terrified of the cat, and sees it as a dangerous threat, certainly this was the case with my sister's dog [rescue], a retriever breed who could not stay in the room with a cat without going berserk (actually most cats didn't stick around for long either hmm

billybagpuss Sat 30-Mar-19 18:43:58

Sorry @wolfie, I was being young in cheek when I said they were pathetic, I know they're not really, I can fully understand where they are coming from but sometimes they can be quite brave and others not so much and the only time the door is open is when dog is safely in her crate.

They are ok and don't need a litter tray at the moment our current system does work the accidents were in the early days before we'd worked out the system. Sorry I wasn't very clear there. I would just like to integrate them more over the summer.

Someone said to me, let them interact more and they will lose the "surprise/anxiety" factor that makes chasing fun
This is the thing, but we can't keep them together long enough for this to happen. I will however be off work for the summer soon so will have more time to devote to being able to care for them together.

I am going to try the treating system both cats are also treat motivated with dreamies which is useful. I also like the idea of a long line.

Thank you all

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billybagpuss Sat 30-Mar-19 18:46:05

tongue in cheek not young confused

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Wolfiefan Sat 30-Mar-19 19:52:19

You don’t want them to interact. You want to treat the dog when it ignores the cats. You’re aiming for it to look to you for a treat when it sees them. Not focus on them.
And they should have access to a litter tray at all times. If that has to be upstairs then that’s where it needs to be.

billybagpuss Sat 30-Mar-19 20:08:31

Wolfe they always have access to outside they don’t need the tray, I promise, that was the mistake we made in the early days

But that aside I think you’re right. I have started trying to help billypup more when she sees them as she really can’t help getting anxious when she’s sees them and her ignoring them is what I’m hoping to achieve.

The first thing I need to organise is treats handy for when she sees them through the window.

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Wolfiefan Sat 30-Mar-19 20:32:22

If the dog is downstairs then they won’t feel they do have access if they go past him.

billybagpuss Sat 30-Mar-19 20:50:42

Wolfe if you really don’t believe me please come round for a cuppa and I’ll show you. Honestly I have always respected your opinion in the doghouse and i promise The boys are quite ok going past billypup when she’s in her crate. They only have to do that overnight when they have always, even pre-dog, spent the night on our bed. We have had no accidents for probably 8 or 9 months now. during the day they have exclusive access to the garden with no dog 🐕 in the vicinity. They really don’t need a tray.

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Wolfiefan Sat 30-Mar-19 20:54:06

Sorry. Wasn’t trying to say you weren’t being truthful! Just that cats might feel like they don’t have access if they have to walk past a dog. That’s all.
We had the cats first then brought home a pup. The biggest thing was never ever letting the dog chase them. Trying to essentially get the dog to ignore them. But she’s a daft great lump and doesn’t have a prey drive. My mum has a border and she would likely eat our cats. shock

billybagpuss Sun 31-Mar-19 10:10:02

Don't worry, I know what you were getting at.

So this morning we have started by letting dog see cats when they are in the garden, so cats oblivious to her and I've been treating when she's sat calmly. Actually been quite good as we had week 2 of our course yesterday when we were working on calm.

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Wolfiefan Sun 31-Mar-19 21:21:43

Brilliant. Good luck.
But a cuppa did sound good! grin

billybagpuss Sun 31-Mar-19 21:33:51

Kettle is always on, especially after a dog walk smile

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Wolfiefan Sun 31-Mar-19 21:51:19

Sounds great. wink
Today we had a very long day out at a dog show.
Tonight there is wine. grin

Gotaprettypup Mon 01-Apr-19 22:15:54

Been reading this with interest as prettypup keeps chasing our cats...we keep a soft lead on her around the house so we can grab easily if needed...she isn't being aggressive, just wants them to play...they have other ideas...but tonight we had a breakthrough moment, while she was laid in her bed one of the cats strode into the room..looked at her..jumped up onto DH and curled up on his lap...she got up to go to the cat and i diverted her with treats...made her sit/laydown..kept her attention on me....and that's how she stayed...dcat gave evils but peace reigned!

Wolfiefan Mon 01-Apr-19 22:50:23

Yay. That’s great.
The house lead does really help doesn’t it?

billybagpuss Tue 02-Apr-19 10:55:30

Yesterday I was feeding the dog and big cat treats about 1m apart and when dog got out into the garden little cat didn’t move just stayed on the step. I think we have progress smile

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TooOldForThisWhoCares Tue 02-Apr-19 14:10:30

That's great Billy! I had ddog studiously trying to ignore small cat when she came into the kitchen and ddog was loose in there with me. There was a bit of side eye from ddog but then she sat down and looked at me and promptly got praise and a treat. Small steps and victories is the way forward I think.

79andnotout Wed 03-Apr-19 12:31:34

We have a greyhound with two cats. When we got our grey (who hadn't been cat tested but the trainers presumed would be low prey drive as she wasn't interested in the lure) we put baby gates up every where and limited her location in the house. They could see each other but limited interaction (for at least the first six months). All calm behaviour was rewarded with food. Our grey is very food motivated. Gradually we allowed them in the same room but the grey was instructed to sit on the sofa (for food).

Three and a half years on and they all interact ok. I quite often come home from work and they're all asleep in the same room together. The baby gates we took down after about a year and a half. When one of the cats appears at the cat flap my dog jumps on the sofa in the kitchen waiting patiently so she can lick the cat bowl afterwards.

She will always chase them in the garden though. That prey drive is alive and well in her.

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