Chasing cats...

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Postby amalie79 » April 19th, 2010, 12:43 pm

Poor Robin wants the other animals to play with her SO BADLY! Simon is just too old and uninterested and River is pretty uninterested, too... so she follows the cats around the house in a play bow and then chases them when they run; or if the swat at her, so tries to bat back with her front paws, too. It'd be pretty cute if it wasn't a little worrisome, too. :P

She's not interested in chasing them all the time; in fact, she's happy to nap with them when they let her on the bed. But unfortunately, she's an exuberant player and I do worry that she'll hurt them if she catches them (and frankly, that they'll hurt her!). Not to mention, it stresses the kitties, since they don't want to play any more than the other dogs do!!

I'm wondering if keeping a drag line on her would be a good idea so that she hits the end when she goes after them? Her fear issues seem to be primarily to do with strange people who we meet outside on leash, or who come into the house unannounced or without a good introduction. Might a long line complicate those fear issues? Or do you think it might help make being on-leash No Big Deal? I'm refraining from corrective collars because of the fear, but we HAVE to get the kitty chasing under control pronto. :neutral:
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Postby mnp13 » April 19th, 2010, 12:59 pm

amalie79 wrote:I'm wondering if keeping a drag line on her would be a good idea so that she hits the end when she goes after them?

Absolutely! Self corrections are great teaching tools in my opinion. The dog initiates the behavior, and that behavior gives them an unpleasant consequence... and the cat keeps on going. The dog learns that chasing the cat doesn't get them anything good, and it results in a correction which is not fun.

Her fear issues seem to be primarily to do with strange people who we meet outside on leash, or who come into the house unannounced or without a good introduction. Might a long line complicate those fear issues?

I'm not sure how - unless something happened where she would identify the two things, such as a "scarey stranger" being allowed to use that long line to reel her in to touch her (which of course, you wouldn't do, I'm just trying to come up with something)

Or do you think it might help make being on-leash No Big Deal? I'm refraining from corrective collars because of the fear, but we HAVE to get the kitty chasing under control pronto.

Correction collars, when used properly, don't cause, add to, or otherwise affect fear issues. My opinion, of course. :wink:
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Postby amalie79 » April 19th, 2010, 1:21 pm

Thanks, Michelle-- I'm only concerned that some of her fear aggression might be associated with the leash or some level of barrier frustration/cornering (ie, "I'm on this stupid leash and can't get away from the scary strangers or to them to sniff and check them out, so I'll bark and growl a lot.") Just don't want to exacerbate what I see as our biggest problem!

I don't have a problem with correction collars, per se... I do worry that, in case some of her fear aggression outside the house is leash or containment related, that she would make some unpleasant associations-- that, and I don't feel confident in the correct use. I used a choke chain to train our now 15 year old dog when I was only 15 myself, and I ended up with a leash aggressive dog. I know that choke chains are very different from pinch collars and the two may even have nothing to do with each other; I also knew that the only way those are effective is immediate release on the chain and that a lot of other things could go into the cultivation of that fear. But I simply don't feel comfortable with my timing yet. If we decide to use one, I'll have to go to a trainer who's proficient in them to get a proper demo. So it's somewhat my own hangups. :oops: All I know is, no choke chains for me or my dogs ever again. Pinch collars, perhaps.

When we first put a leash and collar on Robin the day we found her, she would totally shut down, not move an inch. She got carried to the vet that day :P . Granted, now she lurves it, so who knows? :| I don't want to bring unpleasant associations she has outside the house into the house, but I also tend to think that wearing the lightweight drag line would maybe make wearing a leash a pretty ho-hum experience-- might even help us get out the leash without it being such a huge production of puppy happy dance time!

I think we'll give it a try.
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 19th, 2010, 4:31 pm

Some methods to work on cat-chasing that use positive reinforcement/negative punishment...rather than positive punishment...so you have some options for your fearful girl.

Cats and Dogs
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... nddogs.htm

How To Cure a Cat-chaing Dog
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/1403

Teaching Leave It with Live Things:
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... eaveit.htm

I'm not a fan of using corrections and positive punishment for fearful dogs...as it often backfires, unless your timing is really good. The dog CAN learn to associate the aversive with the cat...which can make things worse. Most people don't have great timing, so it often makes things worse. If you're using +R, it's not going to make things worse if your timing isn't great. ;)

I have a HA dog, and I have rarely used a correction with her...(I'm sure I've accidentally done something she finds aversive...so I won't say NEVER). I can shut her down if I just raise my voice...so I don't use physical corrections with her...she's just too soft, and it makes her more fearful in the long run. :(
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Postby amalie79 » April 19th, 2010, 4:50 pm

Thanks, Erin. We DEFINITELY need to work on giving her a range of commands and making those commands rock solid. And we are; in fact, her "leave it" for most things is getting very good, and if I catch her before she's already worked up, it's even ok around the cats. And she has a terrible habit of jumping on me and nipping-- if I can get her attention for just a second, I can usually get her into a sit/stay. She's surprisingly good at "stay," and combined with her improving "leave it" I know she has some ability to exercise impulse control.

The problem comes when she's already a little excited or worked up. I'm just wondering if a tether could provide that extra little bit of security while she learns house manners. I do still worry about giving corrections to a sensitive girl; and at the same time, once she's going after the cats, yelling and grabbing her is the only thing that gets her attention, which is CERTAINLY not good either. :(

It's so hard to know what commands to focus on first. She's a resource guarder, so we mostly work on leave it, drop it, trade, and now I'm trying to solidify "off" and a auto-sit when she runs up to me; but we've also been working on calm response to people outside the house. Maybe I can squeeze more "stay" and "down" somewhere in conjunction with some of those or with meal and play time. I hate trying to prioritize when I feel this overwhelmed! :sad2: Oh well. a few deep breaths and some patience, and I know we'll get there...
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Postby amazincc » April 19th, 2010, 5:11 pm

I would definitely try a drag leash... not so much for self-corrections, but to make it easier for you to (gently) reel her in before she gets too wound up. Couple that with the "leave it" and/or "come" command, and this way you make it more about obeying you than correcting her for chasing/playing rough with the cats.

I have taught mine an "easy" command... it goes for anything that's over-the-top - playing too rough, crazy wrestling in the house, indoor zoomies, getting snappy when taking treats from my hand, "loving" the cats too hard... etc. Mine have learned to tone it down immediately when they hear me say "easy". I also sometimes have to throw in "easier" for good measure when someone is really excited/overly exhuberant... but it usually works the first time. :)
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » April 19th, 2010, 5:21 pm

Does kitty have claws?
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 19th, 2010, 8:10 pm

I use tethers for dogs that aren't safe in the house for various reasons...chasing cats, chewing items, not housebroken, etc. Oreo (foster) is still tethered if she's out and I'm not watching her for the most part.

I tether with a harness or buckle collar, and while the dog is tethered, I'm watching and reinforcing good behavior. Oreo has no "stay"...but I treat/pet/reinforce for calm, quiet behavior around the cats. They can get away, so she doesn't get reinforced by running them off...and she gets heavily reinforced for chilling out around them. No heavy work on behaviors...I'm not looking for stays, sits, etc. She barely knows SIT. ;) I'm just looking to catch..."wow, she's being good around the cats" behavior. :D
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Postby amalie79 » April 19th, 2010, 8:19 pm

Yes, kitties all have claws. Some of them were not raised with dogs, but eventually came to be comfortable with them; one in particular actively likes most dogs. We found her 13 or so years ago as a stray kitten. We thought she'd wandered away after a day or so... A few weeks later we found her in the dog's house, sleeping with the dog, eating his food, etc. For years she never even left the fence. Robin is very interested in playing with her and bossing her around, but she's the one that really stands her ground. They're making friends.
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 19th, 2010, 8:38 pm

If she's normally okay with the cats, and they do a good job of taking care of themselves, I'd work on some self-control around them. My Inara likes to chase the cats...so does the Wiener. The cats will stop and stand there if they don't want to be chased anymore...or they'll run into their special cat area. I give them the upstairs, cordoned off with a baby gate...so they have a place to get away from the dogs.

A tether will work for situations like this too...so you can keep her from getting to them if they're not interested in playing/snuggling. And like I mentioned before, some heavy reinforcement for leaving them alone when they've said "NO!"

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Postby BullyLady » April 19th, 2010, 11:47 pm

I do the same as Erin, I make sure that my cats have somewhere to "escape", aka behind a baby gate where Shelby doesn't go. And NO leaving the dog unkenneled if no one is home, unfortunately prey drive may kick in and bye-bye kitties. :( Even the most well adjusted dogs, which Shelby is for the most part, have instincts that take over sometimes.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » April 20th, 2010, 9:33 am

:cat: I have two cats. My 1.5 yr old Bombay mix is the problem. The other cat ignores unless she feels cornered - then she hisses and hides. Petie did chase for awhile, but she's pretty much over it. Once in awhile she'll get excited and start dancing around.
Sasha continues to hiss and jump out and claw at Petie. I tell Sasha "NO" and she shrinks back. But she'll be doing it again a couple minutes later! Sasha likes to sniff the dog when the dog is not looking at her, but if the dog turns her head around, Sasha freaks (goes "Freddy Krueger" on Petie's face!).
I think time and maturity have made a difference with Petie (and yes - constant scolding). Sasha is the baby in the house so I'm hoping a little more time and some maturity on her part will eventually end this conflict.
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Postby maberi » April 20th, 2010, 9:43 am

TheRedQueen wrote: I can shut her down if I just raise my voice...so I don't use physical corrections with her...she's just too soft, and it makes her more fearful in the long run. :(


Karma is the same way. She is extremely sensitive and any sort of physical correction would be way too much for her. Because she is so sensitive she is usually very willing to work with you when she understands what is appropriate behavior and what you want from her
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Postby amalie79 » April 20th, 2010, 9:49 am

We have the room with the litter boxes sectioned off with a baby gate and this helps. However, we have the gate raised a little off the ground so the cats can slide under it because one of our guys is overweight with some osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, Robin has gotten very, very good at flattening herself like a pancake and shooting under it herself! If we lower it anymore, our big boy can't get under either (he's BIG; Robin is little :rolleyes2: ). We're working on bringing his weight down, and slowly but surely, we're getting there. And he can jump that high, just not all that quickly or gracefully. But the kitties can all get under there quicker than Robin can and then they have places to go once they're in there. And she is ALWAYS crated when we're not there. For the her sake, the cat's sake, for the good of our furniture, and for my sanity! :o

Mornings are the worst time for us-- she's just had a full night of sleep and is raring to go, while I'm trying to get ready for work. I have an hour commute, so I get up much earlier than my husband; he gets up a little after I leave and has the time to play ball with the dogs and run off some of that energy before work. My time with them is in the evening.

Anyway, this morning, I made a concerted effort to always have treats in my pocket and keep an eagle eye on Robin so that I could get her to "leave it" before she got too interested and to work on recall. We actually had a great morning!! :dance: Now, that doesn't mean I may not need a tether for her more energetic days, but this morning was great!

I'm also thinking about giving her breakfast to her in something like a kong wobbly or other interactive thingy. I don't want to use that as a cop-out, but I also know that she spends most of her morning wanting to play, and I thought this might be a good way for her to get her energy out while I'm getting ready and can keep an eye on her. :|

Thanks for all the suggestions-- we're probably going to put a measure of all these things into place. I can't imagine dealing with a dog that chased them all the time!

Sasha likes to sniff the dog when the dog is not looking at her, but if the dog turns her head around, Sasha freaks (goes "Freddy Krueger" on Petie's face!).


Sounds familiar! Robin saw our cat Chester sniffing a bug or something; she went over to see what it was (not to mess with the cat, for once!). When Chester turned around and realized the dog was there, he went ballistic! And it just snowballed from there. I had to grab Robin between my legs while Chester stopped freaking out enough to run away. These animals run me ragged sometimes! :smileSwitch:
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Postby amalie79 » April 20th, 2010, 9:54 am

maberi wrote:
TheRedQueen wrote: I can shut her down if I just raise my voice...so I don't use physical corrections with her...she's just too soft, and it makes her more fearful in the long run. :(


Karma is the same way. She is extremely sensitive and any sort of physical correction would be way too much for her. Because she is so sensitive she is usually very willing to work with you when she understands what is appropriate behavior and what you want from her


Robin doesn't shut down so much as tune out any verbal corrections. "No" has become white noise for her.

I still don't like raising my voice, though. And that certainly doesn't mean she'll respond well to physical correction... I'm going to start with learning more self control-- solidifying "leave it" and recall-- and tether her to reel her in when I need to. Oh, and she only wears a buckle collar or harness at the moment. I don't want to add anything beyond that.

Fingers crossed.
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Postby amalie79 » April 20th, 2010, 11:50 pm

I bought a Dogzilla Steggin' Egg-- it's like the Kong Wobbly. And, of course, Robin's scared of it. Sigh. :rolleyes2: But River the lab, loves it.

This is the first time I've REALLY wished I'd taught her a target/touch command. I'm going to keep working on it, and, worst case scenario...? River just got an awesome new toy by default. :dance:
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Postby amazincc » April 20th, 2010, 11:56 pm

amalie79 wrote:I bought a Dogzilla Steggin' Egg-- it's like the Kong Wobbly. And, of course, Robin's scared of it. Sigh. :rolleyes2:


Is that a food-dispensing toy? Because I would bet that hunger will eventually overcome Angst. :wink:
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Postby amalie79 » April 21st, 2010, 12:10 am

It is indeed a food dispenser. This weekend, she and I are going to hang out in a room with just us, a book and a Steggin Egg full of her favorite treats-- and I don't think she'll be reading the book. :wink:

I'm hoping curiosity, boredom and hunger will push her to work a little. It's like a Weeble-- she pushes it and it rolls over and pops back up, so she doesn't have to do much...which is why touch or target would be perfect here.

River knew immediately what to do; Simon sniffed at it from all angles and got bored; Robin bounced around it and darted in and out and then stood on her back legs and went to her "spot" for dinnertime.

She'll eventually get curious enough-- especially if all the treat are smeared with her favorite duck flavored moist food. :D
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Postby TheRedQueen » April 25th, 2010, 12:33 pm

How are things going? Any updates?
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Postby amalie79 » April 25th, 2010, 8:47 pm

The cat issue is definitely improving. A couple of times we've had to just separate everyone until she could calm down, but overall, she's been pretty well behaved. We've been working on impulse control in general, and then specifically with the cats-- I've been trying to remember to keep treats handy so I can reward her for leaving the kitties alone. We haven't used a drag line yet; we work on "leave it", "sit," "wait," and recall. I just try to incorporate this throughout the day-- sitting and waiting to go outside or get her dinner, or laying down and watching a treat on the floor, leaving it, until release.

She's still a little scared of and baffled by the food dispenser that I had hoped would distract her from the kitties; however, River, the lab, lurves it and the other two follow her around "helping" her clean up the kibble. lol We're working on learning a target/touch command (using the clicker) that I'm hoping will help with things like that and her fear of the broom, etc. and it would be one more easy thing that we can do when we're outside the house.

We haven't done a lot of stranger-danger training this week, but we did go out on the front sidewalk and watch the neighbors work in their garden this evening (also using the clicker). She did very well. :D I'd like to start the Karen Overall relaxation protocol, but right now we're just solidifying "sit" before we dive into anything more complicated.

Once we get a handle on this ( :rolleyes2: lol ), we HAVE to work on the nipping, mouthing, and jumping. Everytime I put on a sweater, she thinks I've transformed into a giant plushy. :neutral:
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