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Please help me keep the dog from chasing the cats.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm over it. I love my dog -- poor cruelty case... pit mix with a lot of issues but the happiest dog alive. But.... he incessantly chases the cats. They are indoor / outdoor meaning right now they refuse to come inside because the dog is all over them. I miss them being inside... I miss my peaceful house as I go bonkers when he is after the cats.
Anyone have any luck with this? He is 4-5 years old so he isn't a puppy. He seems willing to learn new things but man he is STUBBORN when he gets his mind on something.
Just hoping someone found success. I want my cats back inside!
I try doing a lot of positive reinforcement... redirection... and it is working but taking forever... perhaps that is what it is going to take but hoping there's more I can do to help speed things along.....
post #2 of 11
A few questions to help me offer relevant suggestions:

How long have you had your dog?

You say you've been trying positive reinforcement/redirection - what exactly are you doing and how long have you been trying it for?

Does the dog bother the cats whenever he sees them or only when they are moving?

What does the dog do when he sees a cat? When he catches up to a cat?
post #3 of 11
Our puppies kept chasing until one of the cats finally decided to swat. Since your dog is bigger, maybe the cat will always run before swatting, but if the cat has a chance. . . let her take it.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yeah sorry - I was frustrated last night... Am frustrated.
He is the sweetest thing - I've only had him since the end of July... I know it takes time and more so because he has so many other issues going on, poor babe.
I learned from one trainer that I liked and worked well with Bo... to stop the bad behavior, redirect it to something you do like and then praise.... So if he is looking at the cat, so long as he is just looking and staying calm, he gets praise.... If he starts in on the cat (lunging, barking), then I say No and bring him to his bed / other room and once calm, praise him. If he is looking at the cat and about to pounce, I quickly show him one of his toys to distract him before he takes that extra step.
But as soon as that cat bolts or as soon as I let up for a millisecond (to chase my kid or do whatever), he's all over it.
I KNOW we can work this out... just not sure what more to do. I don't know if it is just going to take (looooots of time) but anything I can do to get the time shortened would help.
So - does the dog bother the cats when he sees them or just when they're moving? All the time. If the cat is sleeping on my bed, he will walk in there and start barking at the cat and try to jump on the bed, lunging at them.
He has never caught up to the cats - I don't think he can. He has a lot of equilibrium and vision issues which means he truly is a bull in a china shop.
As for the cats swatting - oh they've let him have it plenty. This is where that stubborn pit in him doesn't care. I hardly think the dog feels pain (don't worry, he does) but somewhere between years of abuse and just being stubborn, it doesn't really phase him.
Thanks for any help and if I need to add more, I will - Reallllly looking for help here.....
post #5 of 11
One of the first things I'd do here is give the cats a "dog free zone" using babygates or cat doors so they have an easy escape route. This should help the cats feel more comfortable in the house so he can start getting some more exposure to them as housemates vs. outside toys that came inside.

Next, I'd have the dog wear a light dragline in the house so you can easily step in and remove him from a situation where he's getting too revved up. This line can also be used as a temp tether for those moments where you have to have some hands free control - a loop over a door knob and then shut in the door makes a great quick option. Timeouts for chasing may be helpful, but if after 3 or 4 you're not seeing any improvement, then they may not be effective for your particular situation.

Finally, it really sounds like your pup needs to have a clearer idea of what you want from him. Training a "leave it" and a good stay will go a long way toward instilling some self control for him around the cats. In the meantime, you can also do some basic conditioning with him - whenever cats are in view he should get something yummy or fun to play with (chewies, tug games, lots of little yummy treats like hotdogs or chicken bits, etc.) and when they are not around those special rewards go away as well. With the line to keep him from harassing them, the conditioning should help him associate the cats with fun relaxation vs a rousing game of chase, and that will go a long way to helping your house return to normal.

Dogs and Cats article

Teaching Leave It with Live Things article
post #6 of 11
Our dog (also a pit mix) used to chase our cat all the time. After awhile the cat started defending himself and started smacking the dog in the face. Now the cat totally dominates our huge dog. Also, another key element is making sure your dog has plenty of exercise everyday. It is so important for behavior issues.
post #7 of 11
I definitely and hugely second the exercise thing - my dog respects our chickens EXCEPT when my older dog was ill and dying and I didn't walk them for 4 days (I leave her loose in the country, so she gets a little bit of exercise without a walk, but nothing significant). At that time, she got so bored that she simply could not resist the chickens, although she stopped as soon as I told her to leave it . . . after she'd killed two of them (I was a little slow to realize she'd disappeared). So, yes, exercise is of major importance in my experience.

Also, I think it's pretty normal for a pit (or pit mix) to be oblivious to pain once they're in their focused zone. It's really one of the things they were bred for, so it's not too surprising.

If the cats have gotten the dog, I assume that means that he's not trying to actually kill them, just chase them? Because if he was close enough to get scratched, he must have been close enough to bite. But you also said he's never caught up . . . so do they scratch him when he's NOT chasing them? That would tend to reinforce his desire to get them . . .

Other than that, yeah, what stardogs said. "Leave it" is probably the most useful command I've taught my dog, ever. Like I said, it saved at least one chicken's life, and has saved me from worry numerous times. I liked the second article posted above (I didn't read the first one 'cause I'm lazy), and I've found that that trick of moving into the dog's space is really useful to get her to look at me - which is to say, away from the chickens. If I'm in between her and the chickens when I do that, I think it really helps reinforce the idea that they are MINE, and dogs understand that pretty well. But my dog isn't as obsessive as pit bulls tend to be.

Also, to give you some hope . . . I have a couple of friends who have this lovely pit bull who used to chase their cats incessantly, but with time and patience and an increasing understanding of dog behaviour (which I think they picked up from the Dog Whisperer, actually), their dog now leaves their cats alone. You can get there!
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

OK, here's the situation - the cats won't come in the house now.  I bring them in on colllld nights and put up a baby gate.  I thought this might give each (cats / dog) the opportunity to check each other out but I think it happens so seldom (we are in FL after all) that it isn't enough for them to get acquainted properly rather just enough to keep the dog interesting in chasing them (like as if they are a special treat).  Now, I have one cat that is fairly "screw you" with the dog.  So I've been using him to help the dog get used to cats.  It's not great.  But Bo IS beginning to listen when I call him away, etc.


Here's an idea which I can't tell if it is excellent or absolutely cruel (I know) - so flame away if it is a horrible idea.


I want to re-claim my cats.


I'm thinking about shutting the doggie door.  Bringing the cats inside along with a couple of litter boxes.  Forcing them all to co-exist for about a month.  I'm sure for 2 weeks I won't see any cats as they'll stay hidden in the house.  But will this kind of force the scenario where 'hey the cats are around, nothing to chase or bother with, move on with your life"?  Or is it terribly bad for the cats, I'll end up with cat urine everywhere.... etc?


Stardogs- I have taught him "out" now... and he does understand Sit.  Now, if he is all revved up, he ignores the world (one-track mind) but I have been able to just put him / isolate him in another room for some time. 

If I leave the baby gate up, the cats will NOT leave my room and there is NO interaction.  Would it be "better" then to maybe use the babygate but have the cat food out in the open so if they want to eat, they have to come out?  Again, is this not cruel?


And Hykue --- as far as the cats being able to get him but he hasn't bitten them... the issue there is more that he has zero coordination due to his neurological/past abuse issues.  It is so sad - even trying to get him to get a treat from my hand is difficult because he has a shaky head--- it seems the more he tries to focus on one specific thing, the more he gets discombobulated (sp?).  So the he gets close enough to the cats and lunges at them but misses because he's just.... well, I call him 'drunk boy' ;)


I might have to try this for a day and see how it goes.... but please make me say "what the heck was I thinking?" if this is realllllly a bad idea....


Thank you all so much--- I want us all to live happily every after :(

post #9 of 11

I dont think bringing the cats in is a bad idea they need to work it out. The barking while they are sleeping sounds like he just wants to play. However, I would make sure he just wants to chase them and not eat them. My dog chases strange cats and our cat when he wants to play so to me it would be important that the dog get to know the cats but in order to do that the dog needs to be very well exercised, like at least an hour of play a day. Making sure he is tired to me is key because bored dogs get into all kinds of mischief. You could also just bring them in at night that way he can still get out the doggie door during the day and they can still do their cat thing while slowly getting to know each other.

I did have a dog and cat as a little girl that would chase each other all around the yard and play hide and seek together and my dog and cat groom each other, so they may be friends yet.

post #10 of 11

Be careful, pits tend to be cat killers.  They can be a very nice breed, but their prey drive is strong, and all it takes is one chomp.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  As mentioned, all of his teeth were broken - he can't chomp even if he could.  We're working on it... everyone was doing fine but the cats want to be outside... Not gonna force it.  Oh well.

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