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Thread: Help - new dog obsessed with cat!

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Help - new dog obsessed with cat!

    Hi everyone,
    Until around Christmas, my wife and I had a 8 year old cat (male) and a 4 year standard poodle (male) and life was fine. My wife bought the poodle as a baby and so it grew up with the cat already dominant in the house, so the dog seemed to learn that the cat was there and no big deal. They pretty much ignored each other and life was grand.

    Around Christmas, we bought a 15 month old poodle girl. My wife has always wanted a poodle girl and she wanted to get one that was older than a puppy because she thought it would already be 1) house trained and 2) socialized with other animals so it would be used to having other animals, such as our cat, around.

    Dead wrong on both counts. We bought the poodle from a breeder who, although the breeder didn't have a lot of dogs, didn't pay attention to them either. From what we can gather the dog was pretty much ignored from birth until we got her. So instead of being used to cats, she's obsessed with smaller animals - namely, our cat. Sometimes when the cat isn't around or is sleeping she'll forget about the cat and act like a normal dog, but the slightest hint of a sound that could be the cat and it's a mad dash to find the kitty. She seems to like to find and either corner the cat or actually lick it, and since my wife had the cat declawed, the cat swiping at the dog only encourages her. Sometimes she'll nip at the cat, I don't think she means to hurt him but the cat probably doesn't know that. Especially when the cat jumps on something, she'll try to nip him mid-air. When the cat disappears she'll go back to being kind of normal, but the second she sees him or hears him (we even took his collar off to make him more stealthy but she still hears him rustling), the obsession takes firm hold and she'll break her leg trying to track down the kitty and play/lick/nip/corner him.

    Needless to say the cat is pretty unhappy and has now taken to marking (spraying with pee) our furniture inside, and we think he does it even when the terror poodle beast is crated (which she is during the day). Even if we broke the obsession tomorrow I don't know how long we'd have to live with the marking, it may never end. The living room smells awful.

    Anyway, I feel if we can figure out how to tone down the cat obsession things would get better. If nothing gets better, we will have to give the poodle girl away because it's not fair for the cat to live in fear the rest of its life, and giving her away would break our hearts because she is so sweet outside of the fixation.

    We've tried correcting the dog by making a loud noise whenever she tries to make a move for the cat, and while it stops the immediate incident, it doesn't seem to do anything to break her of the obsession.

    Any thoughts would be highly appreciated. We've had her three months and can't tell if it has gotten better or worse, it's just a mad obsession.

    Thanks in advance for your time.

    'Dubs
    Last edited by Rdubs; 05-01-2009 at 11:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    Hello and welcome to pet lovers!

    Your kitty may be peeing on the furniture because he has a urinary tract infection. (UTI) Stress can cause infection in cats (it also causes kidney failure) and he certainly has had a lot of stress so I recommend a trip to the vet very soon for kitty.

    As for training the dog, we have some very knowledgeable dog training people here who will be along to help with that, but do please take kitty to the vet.

    Males can block suddenly and quickly when they have infections, and once blocked, they die within 24 hours.

    I recommend blood work along with the urinalysis to make sure his kidneys are doing okay.

  3. #3
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    I've the same problem, and it's not an easy fix. In fact, I've not been able to eradicate it from my boys. It's from a high prey drive. All of my dogs have been raised with my cat. Two of them have been obsessed by the cat. One calmed down after about 3 years, the other is now 3 years and still obsessed. My saving is that they are both obedient and will stop chasing and lie down when I say. But not for long. At least my cat is used to it and doesn't seem to terribly mind. She's just learned to walk under tables and along the furniture top. She will in fact instigate them at times.

    I'm sorry I've no magic cure. My only suggestion is intense training to ignore kitty. Not allowed to approach the cat, not even look at it. It's very hard to stop prey drive. Hopefully someone else has had better luck with this problem than I.
    Where fur and feather meet.....

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    The Cat!

  4. #4
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    I wouldn't have thought a poodle would have a prey drive like that, though?

  5. #5
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    Special, poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs. Standard poodles especially haven't had the 'lap dog' persona focused on, so I imagine they still carry the drives they were bred for.

    Truthfully any dog can have prey drive, or not have it. I've seen hunting dogs with none, and small mix breeds with an over abundance of it.
    Where fur and feather meet.....

    My Beloved Parrots

    My German Shepherd Dogs

    The Cat!

  6. #6
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    wow, I never knew that! Not that I am claiming to know much at all about dog breeds, but I never would have thought of a poodle, even a standard poodle, as a hunting dog!

    I have had a bad experience with a standard poodle and cats so feel very sorry for the cat in this thread.

    In fact the stress that the dog I am speaking of brought onto the cats caused acute kidney failure and I had to have them both euthanized within two weeks of each other. One cat was 21, the other was only 13. It was devastating and I will probably never get over it, nor forgive the people involved.

    I am not normally an advocate for rehoming but after thinking about my experience and what you have said about prey drive, Becky, I vote for these people to find another home for the dog for the sake of their cat. Dog has been there only 3 months, Cat is 8 years old and deserves a peaceful life.

  7. #7
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    I'm sorry you've seen the down side of prey drive. It can be controlled, but it's a difficult task. I have to admit, I've not really worked at it as hard as I could. I can never leave my one dog alone with my cat though, as he doesn't know when to stop.

    I also have to say if the OP's cat is having a bad reaction to the constant stress, a rehome may be better. Some cats can handle it, others can't.
    Where fur and feather meet.....

    My Beloved Parrots

    My German Shepherd Dogs

    The Cat!

  8. #8
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    I don't have a lot of experience with this, although Shabka (my dog) is a little kitty obessed, particularily with Daisy, who isn't as aggresive with the scratching and growling that Tootous is.

    Anyway, what I've been is using a spray bottle to spray water on Shabka and a firm no when she is bothering Daisy. It doesn't hurt Shabka, it's just plain water, but she dislikes it enough she immediately stops. It has gotten to the point where all I do is shake the water bottle and Shabka stops and I think Shabka's interest in this activity is declinning. I've also been showing preferential treatment towards the cats in Shabka's presence as I read someplace that dogs need to know where their place is in the pack.

    Of course, since Shabka stays outside all the time, and the kitties are allowed in the house there are long breaks when they are not in the same area. So maybe this helps the situation as well.

  9. #9
    Kkye Guest
    remember, reward the behaviour you want. when your pup stops, praise.

    i try to explain this to my boyfriend, but do you think he understands?
    praise the action you want, which is not going after the cat.

  10. #10
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    This dog has come from a breeder - has she been spayed? That could calm her down a bit.

    It doesn't sound like she's aggressive towards the cat, so I wouldn't have thought it was prey drive (though I may be wrong). Sounds like you need to desensitize your dog to the cat.

    I can think of two ways to do this...
    1. Put the cat in a cage for 20-30 mins a couple of times a day, allowing the dog to be in the same room and see the cat, but not be able to get to it. She'll probably go a bit nuts to begin, circling the cage etc. Everytime she turns away from the cat, reward her.
    2. Keep the dog on a leash in the house, and, again, let her see the cat, but not being able to get to it. When she calms down around it, reward.

    Hopefully, eventually, she'll learn that being around the cat but not interacting with it, brings good things! The fact that she's not being aggressive is a good sign that eventually she'll get it.

    As for the cat peeing... The poor cat, having to put up with this!! Make sure s/he has somewhere safe to hide, where the dog can't get to. A closet or hidey spot on top of a cupboard or something. Maybe get a Feliway diffuser, to try to make the cat feel a bit more at ease, if that's possible!
    emily

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Disclaimer: Any similarities in my posts to anyone or anything real is purely coincidental.
    Please do not take anything I type as fact. I also may not be who I say I am, so don't know anything about anything.

  11. #11
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    Chasing a ball, toy or frisbee are all offshoots of preydrive. Tearing that stuffed toy up, and prancing about shaking it is preydrive. Preydrive uncontrolled can get a dog in trouble (like with the cat), directed, it's the best training tool in the world.
    Where fur and feather meet.....

    My Beloved Parrots

    My German Shepherd Dogs

    The Cat!

  12. #12
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    Just to be nosey... Can I ask why a breeder was rehoming a 15month old dog?
    emily

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Disclaimer: Any similarities in my posts to anyone or anything real is purely coincidental.
    Please do not take anything I type as fact. I also may not be who I say I am, so don't know anything about anything.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashynose View Post
    This dog has come from a breeder - has she been spayed? That could calm her down a bit.

    It doesn't sound like she's aggressive towards the cat, so I wouldn't have thought it was prey drive (though I may be wrong). Sounds like you need to desensitize your dog to the cat.

    I can think of two ways to do this...
    1. Put the cat in a cage for 20-30 mins a couple of times a day, allowing the dog to be in the same room and see the cat, but not be able to get to it. She'll probably go a bit nuts to begin, circling the cage etc. Everytime she turns away from the cat, reward her.
    2. Keep the dog on a leash in the house, and, again, let her see the cat, but not being able to get to it. When she calms down around it, reward.

    Hopefully, eventually, she'll learn that being around the cat but not interacting with it, brings good things! The fact that she's not being aggressive is a good sign that eventually she'll get it.

    As for the cat peeing... The poor cat, having to put up with this!! Make sure s/he has somewhere safe to hide, where the dog can't get to. A closet or hidey spot on top of a cupboard or something. Maybe get a Feliway diffuser, to try to make the cat feel a bit more at ease, if that's possible!
    Hi Squashy,
    She has been spayed, about a month ago.

    These are fantastic ideas, we've tried them piecemeal at times but never in a concerted effort. We will try to do them all at once. It will be interesting rewarding her for just sitting there ignoring kitty, I'm not sure how she'll make the connection that the reward is from ignoring kitty, but we'll do our best.

    Please keep the good ideas and insight coming!

    And about the breeder, normally she raised show dogs and her dogs have won all kinds of awards. I think the dogs she had were meant for show and due to economic times or just laziness a few were posted for sale (the older dogs there were not for sale). But mostly all the dogs were kept in a separate building in the back yard, I think our dog was treated more as a number than an obligation they needed to develop. The wife and I joke about our poodle girl being a "rescue show poodle" lol.

    Nice to know she's got a good prey drive. The boy poodle doesn't have it near as much, if at all. I think "Poodle" comes from the German word "Poodlin" which means "loves water", apparently they used to be used for fetching birds that were shot down and fell in the water.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by special View Post
    Hello and welcome to pet lovers!

    Your kitty may be peeing on the furniture because he has a urinary tract infection. (UTI) Stress can cause infection in cats (it also causes kidney failure) and he certainly has had a lot of stress so I recommend a trip to the vet very soon for kitty.

    As for training the dog, we have some very knowledgeable dog training people here who will be along to help with that, but do please take kitty to the vet.

    Males can block suddenly and quickly when they have infections, and once blocked, they die within 24 hours.

    I recommend blood work along with the urinalysis to make sure his kidneys are doing okay.
    Hi Special,
    Thank you for your concern re: kitty. We actually were afraid it may have been a UTI so took him in as soon as he started it. Had bloodwork done and everything turned out very normal, slightly elevated levels of something so we got him an antibody shot "just in case" and the marking didn't stop. The doctor said it most likely was stressed-induced marking, essentially the cat showing his displeasure with being under constant "attack" or stress.

    But I don't think he's going to up and die unless it's from the poodle girl wanting to play with him....to death!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rdubs View Post
    These are fantastic ideas, we've tried them piecemeal at times but never in a concerted effort. We will try to do them all at once. It will be interesting rewarding her for just sitting there ignoring kitty, I'm not sure how she'll make the connection that the reward is from ignoring kitty, but we'll do our best.
    Reward the moment she turns away from the cat. Also, if she's lying calmly, a gentle "good girl" just to reinforce that she is being good. Nothing too high pitched, you don't wanna set her off again!

    Maybe, while she's in the same room, give her a bone or kong, something that'll keep her entertained for a while, so she sees there's better things to do than pester the cat.

    Any chance of a photo of the naughty lass?
    emily

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Disclaimer: Any similarities in my posts to anyone or anything real is purely coincidental.
    Please do not take anything I type as fact. I also may not be who I say I am, so don't know anything about anything.

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