Terrier chasing cats - and DD15

(50 Posts)
PookieDo Sun 10-Nov-19 13:48:27

I have a Small terrier X and a cat

Cat here first but both same age, same size as each other

Dog and cat have had a couple of small/no injury bust ups - always started by the dog. Dog seemingly cannot handle cat type movements and is easily triggered into chasing and herding the cat. Cat holds her own and has lightly scratched dog once or twice on the nose, the dog doesn’t get too close anymore as has realised claws, but still goes into chase mode

I keep them apart quite well and have a system where if they are together I am present and very instructive to dog not to react. Cat has high places to go and my system is one upstairs one down and dog restricted to the opposite floor to the cat. I also always use the back door though the back garden to the house as our front door opens onto a cul de sac road and have a baby gate up inside. Dog is never let off lead as he will chase things like cats at high speed

DC are teenagers but quite dippy about this system - the altercations have only ever happened when DD15 has been in the room with them both, such as leaving the baby gate open and she panics and not manage it well, usually results in an around the house chase

Today DD15 used the front door to come into the house when the baby gate was open (she left it open) and the dog saw a strange cat out the front and legged it like the speed of lightening down the road. She wasn’t careful about coming into the door, opening slowly or using her feet to block the dog, she just opened the door wide

We got him back thank god (a lot of yelling!) before anything awful happened. I want to be fuming at DD but she was quite shaken up by it. I just don’t know how to get through to her how to be more responsible about this and THINK about her actions. She’s always been this way, dippy and quite thoughtless although she is lovely and sweet girl, it’s not intentional - but it could have been awful consequences

I don’t think I can train a 6yo dog not to chase cats. I was cross with them both!

OP’s posts: |
BrokenWing Sun 10-Nov-19 15:26:57

You can't teach an old dog new tricks is just a saying, of course you can but it will require a lot of time and effort to research and do (or get in a professional to support you).

How long have you had both animals?

PookieDo Sun 10-Nov-19 16:10:39

I’ve done well with my voice command training, but DD is awful at it. When she is there alone he is much more naughty!

Cats all our lives, dog for about 9 months now

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 15:08:44

My opinion.

If it's a terrier, it highly unlikely to be 'herding' behaviour, herding behaviour is technically 'hunting' behaviour but what I mean by 'herding' is a desire to move the animal around and nothing more.

Terriers were bred for hunting and I suspect that what you are seeing is not herding but instead stalking, chasing etc with the ultimate intention of catching/killing cat.

I think the claws and subsequent backing off is giving you a false sense of security.

If excited enough pain won't register because of the adrenaline and you will have a severely injured, possibly dead cat.

I would rehome the dog in all honesty and get a dog that is assessed and shows low prey drive instead.

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 15:11:30

Also, the dog should be taught not to go through the open door without permission from you.

It's fairly easy to teach though for a highly prey driven dog the sight of a cat outside will be a very big ask to resist.

PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 17:53:50

Thanks

When dog and cat first met they had no aggression towards each other at all.

Dog is very territorial and is stupidly defensive towards large dogs. He will bark in their face. He has some behavioural problems that I am trying to address. To see his behaviour, he is warding them off to make cats/dogs go away not try to kill them. Does this make sense? He is anxious. Even when he got close to a cat or a dog, he isn’t trying to make physical contact with them he is barking at them.

Today I took him to my mums, which is next to a park he knows very well. I had hold of him by his harness inside the car - door open I was standing at the door - changing over the clips of his seatbelt to his lead (because they wouldn’t both fit on the ring) and he slipped me before I could get another grip on him, and ran off to confront a bloody big mastiff type. The owner of the mastiff just completely froze. I shouted his name he did stop, but he had already nearly reached her dog and was just standing barking at the dog. I grabbed my dog and put him on lead but as she didn’t move an inch or even shorten her lead, she then allowed her dog to go back towards mine aggressively. It was very weird and we both made a mistake IMO, it could have been a bad situation. Mine has never bitten a dog or a human but I think he is at risk of being bitten because he tries to chase them off.

I really do not want to rehome the dog he has already been rehomed twice (not for this issue, he was unwanted) and it would be so unfair to him. This is why he has problems I don’t intend to pass them onto someone else.

OP’s posts: |
PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 17:56:41

I’ve got him on pet remedy for his anxiety also
He gets very anxious and shakes/pants and stressed barking
With the fireworks recently they have really unsettled him and every little noise makes him stressed out

OP’s posts: |

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frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 18:06:25

I don't seem able to copy and paste to quote angry but It can take a few weeks, sometimes even months for a rescue dog's true temperament to come out so I would assume this is perhaps why it wasn't immediately apparent.

I have an anxious dog reactive dog so I get what you are saying, however, I feel pretty uncomfortable about what you've written.

This is your first dog right?
I'm not trying to be mean or rude but dog aggression is seriously difficult to fix.
An anxious, territorial, dog aggressive and from the sounds of it highly prey driven dog should not have been placed with a novice owner.

Defensive aggression and predatory aggression are very different behaviours.
Most likely the cat behaviour is predatory and not defensive.
Have a read of body language of prey driven dogs and see if you recognise similarities.
I would be very surprised if the cat aggression is not predatory.

He may not be trying to kill other dogs but believe me, if you don't keep him away from other dogs he will escalate.
And given his size that could have catastrophic consequences for him.

He needs to be kept well away from other dogs.

Whether it is unfair or not rather depends on where he is placed.
If he is behaving as you describe with other dogs he certainly isn't happy, he'll be immensely stressed.

Stress hormones stay in the blood for up to 72 hours aswell so each walk that he sees another dog on is going to stress him out more and more everyday.

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 18:18:42

Re reading and see that I have assumed about him being a first dog as your posts only mention the times he's been with you.

Irrespective, his issues won't be easy to fix.
In fact, he may well never be 'fixable' and be a management case.
Nervousness is often genetic and with dog aggression, that can't always be fixed.

Ive tried pretty much everything for my reactive dog, none effective long term and now opt to avoid all but the most placid dogs.

PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 18:25:53

He very much needs to be kept away from other dogs, and I no longer let him off lead or even sniff other dogs anymore. He is a small breed and he wouldn’t stand a chance.

He belonged to a family member (and then passed to another) so I have known him his whole life. So I knew what he was like when I took him. He is my 1st dog. Going back to my mums today he was ridiculously stressed and badly behaved with constant barking.

He wasn’t walked or trained at all. He was kept in one fairly large room and didn’t get to interact with everyone which made him anxious. Previous owner has seen him with me says he is a different dog stress wise - which is true indoors. It’s outdoors he’s awful around other dogs. Small ones he seems ok but I don’t risk it anymore.

He will shake/bark/pant/pace so I know he is anxious.

I can separate the cat and dog in the house safely, and I’ve given the DD’s a massive lecture about not letting them in together.

To my knowledge he has never killed anything even small and he doesn’t attack and ‘kill’ his toys either. He licks them and carries them around, he will chase them if you throw them but he’s not an aggressive destroyer of anything. He likes to eat her litter though envy

He does not really want cats on ‘his property’ so is usually on high alert for them, but bizzarely he actually saved Dcat from a Tom cat who came into our garden and attacked her. She was being attacked by the Tom and making a hell of a noise (urine EVERYWHERE too)
Dog went out and chased Tom off then came back to where I was trying to sort out Dcats wounds on the dining table and laid on the floor next to us, no aggression 🤷🏻‍♀️

OP’s posts: |
Branleuse Wed 13-Nov-19 18:26:47

I dont think you or your daughter are careful enough to have that sort of dog tbh, and youre going to end up with a tragedy on your hands.
If your dog had run up to my staffie like that it would have been very traumatic for everyone and I feel very sorry for your cat

StrictlyNameChangin Wed 13-Nov-19 18:36:06

I'm sorry - but I'm another terrier owner with a fear aggressive dog - and I too think you're being naive if you don't think he would harm a cat if he caught one. His chase instinct with cats is very highly likely to be different to his fear aggression with dogs. Let's be honest too, if you really believed he wouldn't harm your cat you wouldn't feel the need to keepthen seperate. It is often best to let an established cat sort out a new dog in their new home, but the behaviour you describe sounds like the chase is so very hardwired into him.

StrictlyNameChangin Wed 13-Nov-19 18:39:41

... it would only take a split second for the chase to turn into a nip to kill. That's 100% instinct, experience, training and logic wouldn't come into it.

With the harness and car clip thing, all I can suggest is get a different harness. Mine is a tiny terrier x something much smaller, and i can clip her harness to the car seat at the same time as the lead for transfers. The crappy harness she came with (she's rehomed from a similar situation) I couldn't have done that with though.

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 18:41:01

That's good.

Truthfully, I honestly think he is a very bad match for a first time dog owner.
Even if you have known him all his life.
Maybe I am wrong but he sounds like seriously hard work.

Yes he sounds very anxious.
Anxious enough to warrant veterinary medication imo.

With respect, firstly your DD has let them get together so you can't guarantee they'll stay separate.
Secondly, if a dog wants the cat bad enough, it will probably get it at some point.
Plus the cat will be massively stressed out pretty much all the time.

Could be wrong about the aggression of course, no one here has seen the dog.
But I would be surprised if it isn't predatory.

It is quite possible though that rather than 'saving' your cat, the dog in fact was excited by the noise, ran out and tom cat ran so he chased then tired and satisfied from his chase returned to the house.

ChewChewIsMySpiritAnimal Wed 13-Nov-19 18:45:03

Have you thought about clicker training the dog?

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 18:48:12

Ooh, my copy and paste button is now working! grin

To my knowledge he has never killed anything even small and he doesn’t attack and ‘kill’ his toys either. He licks them and carries them around, he will chase them if you throw them but he’s not an aggressive destroyer of anything

My dog also has never killed anything, she doesn't really kill toys either.
She loves soft toys and never damaged one.

However, one look at how she reacts to squirrels should tell you that if she caught one she probably wouldn't be making friends with it..

Your dog's behaviour around cats is very very likely to be predatory. Honestly.

PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 18:48:49

The cat wants her own space, the separation seemed sensible and kind to her, not that I thought he will kill her. He is annoying and the cat hasn’t really wanted to sort anything out with the dog. They met first when they were both small and dog visited our house. She was initially interested in dog but she isn’t anymore and she also didn’t like our previous cat that much but they just stayed away from each other.

I am open to being possibly naïve over this as why I posted

If dog came to harm today it would have been completely my fault, not the other dog.

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 18:50:54

Have you thought about clicker training the dog?

Predatory behaviour is instinctive and notoriously difficult, if not impossible, to fix with positive training because there is no reward in the land an owner can offer that competes with the adrenaline rush and excitement of a real life hunt.

PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 18:54:28

I’ve seen the vet a few times she has seen him have a panic attack and she’s given him the pet remedy tablets and spray

I’m doing clicker training and his recall with me is much much better than it ever was. Re the cat chasing and the dog today, he initially chased but stopped when called. But that was too late as he had already started to run. That is what I need to work on

OP’s posts: |
PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 19:09:18

Is rehoming the dog literally my only option?

Having had them meet before and not seeing any aggression, I took the dog on the basis that they may be ok and cat would do as she chooses as she has always done (to interact or not). I did not just bring home a random dog without trying to check first it would work.

He also was not aggressive towards other dogs to my knowledge and was friendly, but I knew he wasn’t very well socialised/walked. He had a dog walker who had 4 spaniels and I’ve walked him with my friends dogs and he’s been submissive and placid around them as one of them gave him a telling off for being annoying (sniffing bum) and put him in his place. Then about 2 months ago i was in a park and he was on lead and he started defensively barking at a placid Labrador and since then he’s just got worse. He won’t walk down one part of where we live at all even though nothing has happened to him.

He’s always been a territorial barker though but he doesn’t bark that much at my house not like he used to at previous owners. He also urinated all over their houses

OP’s posts: |
TwattingDog Wed 13-Nov-19 19:13:45

Find a trainer OP. You have so much more that can be done here. He needs to be socialised in a controlled way.

Also, Facebook page Naughty But Nice Dogs is a great place to start for tips.

PookieDo Wed 13-Nov-19 19:20:29

Thanks. There are a few locally I have looked at before, often they are puppy classes and I need a behavioural trainer. The vet wasn’t all that helpful, I think as she sees a shivering terrified wreck and not the defensive aggression (or whatever is happening with cat).

I am not going to sleep well stressing he’s going to kill the cat. If he’s going to kill the cat then I cannot keep him

OP’s posts: |
frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 19:29:06

Is rehoming the dog literally my only option?
Only you know that.
No one here has met the dog.
We're all giving opinion.
Only a proper registered behaviourist could really properly assess the situation.
Based purely on what you have written here: territorial, extremely anxious, dog aggressive, cat chaser i personally would rehome on the basis that such a dog sounds hard to handle, the dog aggression without intervention will get worse and the cat is likely at risk.

Having had them meet before and not seeing any aggression, I took the dog on the basis that they may be ok and cat would do as she chooses as she has always done (to interact or not). I did not just bring home a random dog without trying to check first it would work
Sometimes it takes a while for the dog in a new environment to feel comfortable enough to reveal its true personality.
I think that is probably what has happened here

He also was not aggressive towards other dogs to my knowledge and was friendly, but I knew he wasn’t very well socialised/walked. He had a dog walker who had 4 spaniels and I’ve walked him with my friends dogs and he’s been submissive and placid around them as one of them gave him a telling off for being annoying (sniffing bum) and put him in his place. Then about 2 months ago i was in a park and he was on lead and he started defensively barking at a placid Labrador and since then he’s just got worse. He won’t walk down one part of where we live at all even though nothing has happened to him
I think it sounds like he was stressed and upset by what happened with the walkers dogs then was continually trigger stacked until its hit breaking point and now he's showing aggression.
He needs to be kept away from other dogs and hopefully in time he can feel comfortable near other dogs but not interacting with them.

He’s always been a territorial barker though but he doesn’t bark that much at my house not like he used to at previous owners. He also urinated all over their houses
Sounds like stress imo.

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 19:31:39

Dog training is an unregulated industry.

Your best bet of finding a good behaviourist is here:

www.apbc.org.uk/

frostedviolets Wed 13-Nov-19 19:45:15

Some links about predatory behaviour:

acmecanine.com/prey-drive-in-dogs/

www.dogways.info/the-canine-prey-drive-instinct

thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/cat-chasing/#

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