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Getting a dog and suitable breeds(28 Posts)
DS would love to get a dog and so would I. We live in quite a small bungalow with a very small garden. Our living room kitchen is large but open plan and we have a contrary nervous cat. She tolerated my DM's dog (a tiny King Charles Cavalier) but she knew her since she was a kitten.
Is there any way to get a dog in this situation? Are there small breeds that would be less inclined to worry cats? Would a young dog be better or would the cat feel less threatened by a puppy?
DS is 11 and the cat is 9. I still think of her as a young cat which of course she isn't. I think DS is a good age now for us to get a dog and if I waited until we didn't have a cat that could be several years... also DH would probably get another cat nearly straight away.
I feel torn as I'd love for DS and myself if we had a dog but I love our cat and wouldn't like to distress her. DS doesn't really get any pleasure from having a family pet as she is so odd. Most people are slightly afraid of her, including DS, as she'll turn and swipe with her claws out for what seems like no reason. (Rarely to me though.) She hides when anybody comes to the house except people she knows really really well (this takes years of visits). Just trying to give a picture of how nervous she is. Maybe I should just forget about a dog.
We'd be going for a rescue dog so it would be harder but not impossible to get a puppy. I'm thinking of this as a long term thing anyway so I'd wait for a long time to find the right dog.
Given that you're looking for a rescue dog, I'd not be too specific about what breed you're looking for. If you're looking for a small, cat friendly dog that can live with an older child then to be fair that will narrow things down enough, and you don't want to overlook an individual mutt or of a breed you hadn't previously considered that would be perfect for your household.
I would be open to any breed or a cross! I just don't have a clue really if some breeds are more prone to worrying cats.
I had two cats when I was a child and when they were about 5 we got a puppy (dachshund). At first they kind of bopped her on the head when she approached them, but they quickly got used to each other and most of the time they would co exist almost in different worlds (like they didn’t notice each other ). However, many occasions I would find them sleeping and snuggled up together. 😀 it’s possible. But def get a puppy and gently introduce.
We had cats and dogs as did DH, but honestly our cat is really in a league of her own. Would a puppy be more inclined to try and chase her or quickly learn to leave her alone after a swipe of those claws, I wonder? I'm thinking if the puppy was smaller than her she wouldn't feel threatened. My DM's dog wasn't much bigger than her!
My DGM had a dog and cat that were the best of friends and cuddled up together to sleep. The cat would even do the kneading thing to the dog's stomach.
We introduced a giant hound puppy to two tiny tortie cats! You can’t leave it up to the cat to swipe the dog. You must avoid the dog chasing or being fixated on the cat. That means stairgates and a longline in the house until you can trust it!
Blue Cross do online info on how to introduce a dog to cats. It’s great.
Re breeds I would think about the jobs they were bred for. So companion dogs won’t have much of a prey drive but those bred to hunt tend to have more of one. It’s only a guide and every dog is different.
And 9 isn’t old. Our old girl was pts at 19!!
Our cat is a tortie too! And I know she could live a long time yet, by which time DS might not be living here anymore. I still think of her as young though I suppose she is more middle aged. I was thinking I could keep them quite separate in the beginning by keeping the dog in my bedroom at first - I spend a lot of time in there anyway as it's big and kind of functions as a living room -- when DH is watching crap TV-- and the cat isn't allowed in there. (She does try.) I could easily do more things there that I normally do in the living room so that the dog wouldn't be on their own.
The swiping thing is more that the cat swipes everybody, including us. As in you can just be walking past her and she'll have a swipe. DH wanted DS to love animals but it's more like DS is nervous of animals because of our peculiar cat than anything else! It's only from meeting dogs in other people's houses that he's lost the nervousness.
So I'd be trying to protect the dog from the cat as much as the cat from the dog. I'll look up the Blue Cross thing now, thanks a million for that. I'll also look into the different breeds more. Some of the rescue sites say that this dog would be happier as a single pet etc., and plenty of them say not suitable for children. So I suppose the rescue centres would have some idea? I've also seen ones where they specifically say no cats.
What do people think of crates?
Never used a crate myself - but then I have a hamster in a cage that's substantially bigger than some dog crates (not proportionally bigger... actually bigger). I know some people swear by them but I'm not a fan.
My definitely not cat friendly terrier would be going mental if he was in a crate and a cat appeared. It's certainly not a long term solution, and to be honest I could see it being easier for a dog to learn while on a house line rather than in a crate.
Not that I've made any attempt to train PestDog out of chasing cats - I'm allergic so will never have a pet cat, so it's never been a priority for me.
I think the ideal dog for you would be an adult that's come from a home with cats, where it has already learned that cats are not to be chased.
Crates training can be useful. If they need to be in a crate to travel or after an injury then it’s good to have them used to it. BUT crate training takes a while. You can’t just shut the dog in.
Another useful resource is Dog training advice and support on FB. Run by behaviourists. Free advice. All positive and reward based. They have a file on crate training and actually one on cats and dogs too!
Avocado that's a good idea about an adult dog that's used to cats. I always thought crates were terrible, like putting a dog into a cage, but I've read some things suggesting it can be a dog's safe place and a happy thing for a dog. I've seen a couple of rescues now saying this dog is suitable for living with cats, and they are usually a bit older.
Wolfie, thanks so much for that info too. I'll look it up. I read the Blue Cross advice last night. I will arm myself with lots of knowledge before doing anything.
My friend has a rescue dog for a few years and she had a cat before the dog with all being well. She got a rescue kitten recently though and the dog was quite jealous in the beginning, and tried to get between her and the kitten, that kind of thing. Like sibling rivalry! He and the kitten were fine together though.
You could try a greyhound or a lurcher that is currently living in a fosterhome with a cat. That way you'll know for sure if they are cat-friendly. And most sighthounds (apart from Podencos) don't need that much excercise and are calm in the home, so they are okay with a small living quarters.
Most puppies are fine with cats, with rescue dogs they will tell you if they have been socialised with cats. Don't focus or breed or size as this isn't an indicator of cat suitability. My 20kg collie is completely subservient to cats as is my friends 35kg gsd
We have a dachshund puppy and a very nervous rescue cat who I love dearly.
I was very stressed about the cat’s wellbeing before we bought the puppy home but if anything I think he’s enriched her life!
She stands up to him and puts him in his place but also is very interested in him; wants to smell him and cuddle near (but not with) him and is actually brave enough to go out to the garden now because he does!
She still tells him off 10 times a day and once caught the corner of his eye with her claw, so we have to watch them.
We were also very very careful that he was never ever allowed to chase her when he was younger, so that he wouldn’t get into the habit of it. And did a lot of ‘calm’ training with him around her.
I think you have two options:
A puppy with a low prey drive and lots of training.
Or, as PP have suggested, a rescue who is good around cats.
I'd be worried about a large dog because of the size of our house and garden more than because of the cat. I would go for a lurcher if I thought the cat was safe because of the huge amount of them needing rescue, and the fact that they are quite lazy might suit the garden size!
I think a fostered dog that I know is ok with cats is probably the way to go.
To be honest I wouldn't be too worried about the relative size of the garden vs dog size. You're going to have to walk the dog daily regardless of size, so it's best to think of the garden as an area for toileting, mooching, sniffing and sunbathing - not serious exercise - and so long as there's a patch to lie on and stretch out in the sun, a dog can do that equally well regardless of size.
I've got a tiny concrete back yard that isn't amazing (needs must) but it wouldn't worry me having a big dog in it; the dog sitter's back garden is much better for dogs, but that's because it's full of grass, nature and smells, not because it's bigger.
Don't fall into a trap of believing that smaller dogs need less exercise than big ones - it's just not true!
If you adopt a rescue sighthound, a proper rescue organisation will send someone to your house to have a look and talk to you about your expectations for the dog. They will then find you a suitable match. With some of them you can also indicate which dogs you would be interested in. The main thing is that you need to make sure it's a good match.
Forgot to add:
Temperament is more important than size when it comes to small homes.
What you do need to consider is the costs. Larger breeds eat more and cost more in veteranian bills with regards to surgery and vaccinations. Furthermore, because they weigh more they may be more difficult to get to a vet if injured.
However, if the only obstacles are the cat and the size of your home and garden, they I would look only at temperament and cat-friendliness as your critieria for selecting a dog.
I agree with avocados re a rescue adult who has lived happily with cats (have a look at the rescue website dog descriptions and they often say "can live with cats". I live in a 2-bedroomed flat and have a small garden (though live close to a forest) and have a medium-sized (staffy cross) dog but before her, in the same flat, I lived for years with a LARGE collie/cross dog from Greece. We couldn't go through the doorways at the same time but largely managed to get around the flat with not much problem (her bed occupied quite a bit space on the floor, though). Agree with others that you shouldn't worry too much about size - I think you will "click" with the right dog when you meet it and it won't necessarily be the size/sort of dog you were thinking you needed.
PS. I hate the idea of crates - they hadn't been thought of when I had my first dog (my 11 plus present, eagerly awaited, so many, many moons ago). Too much like a cage for me (well, exactly the same) and lots of rescue dogs get very stressed in kennels. I'm pretty sure they would not do well if they then had to go in a crate sometimes in their new home.
Thanks for all the advice and information everyone!
Would there be somewhere for your cat to escape to with the way your house is set up?
I had a Yorkie and got a kitten, which I think was an easier way round. They played together. Then she had kittens and I kept one - all 3 were best mates. When the yorkie died I rehomed an adult shih tzu but the cats hated him for months. They almost packed their bags and left. (He was a very mild mannered dog but they used to ambush him and beat him up.)They never accepted him as well as the yorkie, it was an uneasy truce for the rest of their lives (they were getting old by this stage). I think whatever you do your cat's nose will be put severely out of joint. As long as you can live with your cat's total disgust at you having the nerve to have another pet....I wish you good luck!
There's not really anywhere for her to go except under the couch (she has a hidey hole in there when we have visitors) or on the top of the top kitchen cupboards.
I suppose it's just a question of whether she would get used to a dog and not be stressed out.
I wonder if creating some high spaces for the cat
I wonder if creating some high spaces for the cat might work?
Something like this (take it as inspiration!) I've seen something similar at a cat cafe in Vienna a few years back
Have you had any dogs visiting. How is your cat around dogs in general.