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Payne: Hot And Cold About The Cats


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We've had Payne for almost two weeks now. He initially tested cat safe at the Wheeling Adoption Kennel. But, since he's been home, he has become a little unpredictable around our cats. We have two rooms in our house that are gated off (they're the type of gates with walk-through cat doors). So the cats do have a lot of space and areas where the dogs can't go. Here is the timeline and how things have been progressing:

  • The first few days, Payne had no interest in the cats at all. In fact, he seemed a little scared of them. I introduced him on-leash and muzzled. He could care less.
  • Then he began noticing them more and watching them on the other side of their gate. This started in the middle of the night when the cats are most active. He also began trying to sniff them through the cat-door on the gate. He's a barker, so he would start barking when he couldn't get to them. I used "no kitty," redirected him, and used a squirt bottle. This happened a few more times, and he eventually lost interest each time.
  • Gradually, the cats became a little more comfortable and began coming out of their rooms. Payne would follow them, and they would run back in. The action of them running definitely interested him, because he would get excited and start barking again. We went back to "no kitty" and the squirt bottle with the same good results.
  • I did a few more re-introductions leashed, but not muzzled. In my presence, he didn't try to sniff or interact with the cats at all. He laid down and seemed disinterested. My three-month-old kitten even rolled a ball next to him, and tried to initiate a game, but didn't even try to move toward her.
  • Then, out of nowhere, my big tabby cat came out of the room last night (not running), and Payne cornered him and grabbed him with his mouth! I am lucky, the cat is fine. No bites or injuries. I grabbed Payne by the color and forcefully told him "NO!" and he laid down on his bed looking ashamed. Muzzle went back on.

It's clear that Payne can be redirected. I don't doubt that he can be trained to be cat safe. But it's confusing to me that he's so hot and cold about the cats. One minute, he has absolutely zero interest. The next, he is chasing and trying to grab. I'm wondering where I should go with my training.

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Guest IrskasMom

My Morty shows absolutly no Interrest in our Kitty , except sometimes it irritates him , if he ( Kitty ) is to persistant going by him . Now the next Door Neighbors Cats ( 4 of'm ) he hates with a Passion .

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I wouldnt be suprised at his reaction. The first few weeks he is acclimating to his new environment, as you say, his interest has been growing with the cats. So, as he gets more comforatble with his surroundings, then he starts to want to explore everything in his environment. Question, did you adopt from a group, and if so, did they cat test your hound? Addititionally, did he get fostered in a home with cats? I see that you are correcting behavior, but I dont see where you are doing any positive reinforcement. What I would add to your training is to have treats available and when he sees a cat, call his name, if he looks at you, then he gets a treat. Really the only time you should be using the bottle to spray him is when he is actively going towards the cats, otherwise there is no need for correction. What I did with many many fosters was to have two people and the hound in a room. The hound should be on a leash, with a muzzle on. The hound and handler are on one side of the room, and the second person brings in a cat. The hound is allowed to look at the cat, then the handler should call the hound's name, if he responds, treat. Use very good treats (not something you give every day). It sounds like you have already moved beyond this staget and have the cats walking around in the same room as the hound, you can still do this, but just have to be aware when you see a cat in the room to get your hounds attention and give him treats if he looks away from the cat. The barking at cats when they are on the other side of a barrier is not something you want to allow. It is getting the hound worked up and you dont want them to work themselfs up, it is a self-rewarding behavior that will lead to chase of the cat. Do not allow your hound to chase the cat. If you have to keep a leash on your hound all the time, then thats what you do. If you need to tether the hound to your side, then that is what you need to do. This introduction and positive reward system usually takes about 2-4 weeks of daily work to become a true behavior. I used this technique with a few dozen fosters and my own hounds.

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I wouldnt be suprised at his reaction. The first few weeks he is acclimating to his new environment, as you say, his interest has been growing with the cats. So, as he gets more comforatble with his surroundings, then he starts to want to explore everything in his environment. Question, did you adopt from a group, and if so, did they cat test your hound? Addititionally, did he get fostered in a home with cats? I see that you are correcting behavior, but I dont see where you are doing any positive reinforcement. What I would add to your training is to have treats available and when he sees a cat, call his name, if he looks at you, then he gets a treat. Really the only time you should be using the bottle to spray him is when he is actively going towards the cats, otherwise there is no need for correction. What I did with many many fosters was to have two people and the hound in a room. The hound should be on a leash, with a muzzle on. The hound and handler are on one side of the room, and the second person brings in a cat. The hound is allowed to look at the cat, then the handler should call the hound's name, if he responds, treat. Use very good treats (not something you give every day). It sounds like you have already moved beyond this staget and have the cats walking around in the same room as the hound, you can still do this, but just have to be aware when you see a cat in the room to get your hounds attention and give him treats if he looks away from the cat. The barking at cats when they are on the other side of a barrier is not something you want to allow. It is getting the hound worked up and you dont want them to work themselfs up, it is a self-rewarding behavior that will lead to chase of the cat. Do not allow your hound to chase the cat. If you have to keep a leash on your hound all the time, then thats what you do. If you need to tether the hound to your side, then that is what you need to do. This introduction and positive reward system usually takes about 2-4 weeks of daily work to become a true behavior. I used this technique with a few dozen fosters and my own hounds.

 

Payne came to me straight from Wheeling... He did have a preliminary cat test at the track, and they said he had a good reaction. Payne is the littermate to my first greyhound, Henry. We went to great lengths to have Payne brought from Florida and West Virginia, so I was set on fostering him even if I had to work with him. I usually do work with positive reinforcement training. I haven't started yet because he's still in the middle of a food switch, so I wanted his stomach to get settled before introducing more food. But this is all wonderful advice. He's doing MUCH better than he had been. Today, I saw my three-month-old kitten sticking her paws out from under the bed and swatting at his tail. He didn't so much as glance in her direction. Here's another question for you. It seems like he is fine when I'm standing there directly supervising the contact, but he gets more interested when I'm not right there paying attention. Any tips for that?

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I would not leave them unattended for a few months until the behavior is set. My suggestion would be to make sure he leaves the room with you. If his interest is perked when you are not around, and he chases the cat, then he will have rewarded his behavior for the chase, which makes your job more difficult.

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Guest jenniferk

I'm interested in this topic because after 3 months, I'm nowhere closer to making progress with my Django and my 3 scaredy cats. My cats are terrified of the dog and refuse to meet him, so I can't even get them in the same room together. So the more he catches glimpes of these elusive creatures slinking around, the more curious he gets. When I have gotten them in a room together, it's not good. They cower, and I can't break his stare, even with treats (he's highly food motivated) and he starts to whine. He tested cat-safe, and if my cats would just hiss at him, I think it would be okay (he gave a play bow and then backed off from a feral cat he cornered in my backyard when it hissed at him). So I keep them separated--they're on the upper floors and he's confined with baby gates to the first floor. Just recently, 1 of my cats has started coming down to see him through the baby gates. I've tried removing the gate and standing between them. He stares but his ears are only half-way up, and he refuses to move. Like, he won't move forward when I encourage him to sniff her. He did move once, they sniffed noses, and then the cat ran. I've heard that I should do the introductions on the cats' terms...but the cats are quite happy to live separately from him on the upper floors. At this point I'm wondering if it's hopeless and I'll always need to keep them separated... :(

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I'm interested in this topic because after 3 months, I'm nowhere closer to making progress with my Django and my 3 scaredy cats. My cats are terrified of the dog and refuse to meet him, so I can't even get them in the same room together. So the more he catches glimpes of these elusive creatures slinking around, the more curious he gets. When I have gotten them in a room together, it's not good. They cower, and I can't break his stare, even with treats (he's highly food motivated) and he starts to whine. He tested cat-safe, and if my cats would just hiss at him, I think it would be okay (he gave a play bow and then backed off from a feral cat he cornered in my backyard when it hissed at him). So I keep them separated--they're on the upper floors and he's confined with baby gates to the first floor. Just recently, 1 of my cats has started coming down to see him through the baby gates. I've tried removing the gate and standing between them. He stares but his ears are only half-way up, and he refuses to move. Like, he won't move forward when I encourage him to sniff her. He did move once, they sniffed noses, and then the cat ran. I've heard that I should do the introductions on the cats' terms...but the cats are quite happy to live separately from him on the upper floors. At this point I'm wondering if it's hopeless and I'll always need to keep them separated... :(

 

Definitely let the cats decide how much contact they want. They're the ones at risk and they're the ones that have to feel comfortable. If they don't want to have contact with something large enough to catch and kill them (to their eyes), please don't try to force the issue. Keep them protected for now, and let them decide if they want to do the investigating of the dog. It may happen, it may never happen.

 

We brought in our first dog, she was overweight, lazy with no bursts of energy, smaller than a grey, and completely ignored the cats at all times and it still was 3 months before our braver cat would be in the same area as she was. It was 6 before our more timid cat would be out in the open with the dog around. After a year+ both ignored the dog as much as she ignored them.

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