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I adopted Mercy, my 8 m/o Amstaff/lab mix saturday and generally she's been a wonderful girl, except she's developed a couple bad habits.

First: I can't keep her away from my cat's litter and it's becoming an issue because i caught her with a piece of the cats poop in her mouth already, any advice on how to stem this, I'm thinking about using a spray bottle if i catch her near the litterbox but there must be a better way.

Second: I don't believe in caging a dog therefore I won't use gates on her but I'm trying to train her to stay on the first floor of my house because all that's upstairs is bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. The issue is that everytime she spots my cat, she tries to chase the cat upstairs and i have to order her downstairs, she hasn't figured out not to go upstairs, I've used treats when i see her sitting at the foot of the stairs but not going up them. Will this pass if I keep up the positive reinforcement or can I do more?

3rd: I have a housekeeper come to clean my house twice a month and her first visit with my new dog will be tomorrow. I've told my housekeeper what to expect but to minimize the risk of an incident should I keep her at a relatives for the day? Mercy is generally pretty good with strangers who are forthcoming and introduce themselves, I just don't know how she'll handle a stranger coming into the house.
 

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Gating off a portion of the house is hardly the same as caging a dog, and is less stressful for the dog than using harsh methods to train her not to go in a particular area. I recommend gating a room off for the cat--not being able to get away from the dog can be extremely stressful for a cat (even if they're friends. . .everybody needs alone time occasionally), and stress can make cats very sick. Keep the litterbox in that room so the dog can't get to it. I have never been able to teach a dog to leave the litterbox alone; I guess cat poop is just too delicious! (Eww).

As for the housekeeper, is there any way you can introduce them? If not, I would stash the dog somewhere else for the day. You can't expect a dog to allow a stranger to just walk right in without a challenge.
 

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I agree that gating is not the same as caging. To crate your dog would be to place them in an actual crate with just enough room to turn around and lay down. A gate will just prevent your dog from going into certain areas, like the place where the little box is, or upstairs. It's an easy fix, really.
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And gates will help your cats, as well. A cat can easily scale -or flat our clear- a dog gate, so that could be a way to give your cats a little escape from the dog if they need it.
 

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For the first one, get the cats their own room with the litterbox. Unless you have nothing else to do but guard the litterbox, it's a self rewarding treat with crunchies.....

Second, baby gate. It will not kill her to have a gate and again, you're guarding the litterbox, so you can't also sit on the stairs. Eventually she'll get the idea but why make life more difficult?

Third, it will be easier for the housekeeper to not have to work around the dog, so find her another spot or place to be. Nothing worse than having to worry if the dog is going to drink toilet cleaner or walk across the wet floor leaving prints!
 

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I agree with Bordermom. Some additional suggestions:
1. You cannot stop a dog from getting treats from the litterbox. Also, if catfood is available, dog's love it! You can raise the litterbox off the floor or put it behind a baby gate. The dog has no reason to be allowed into the bathroom. The cat can jump to the litterbox very easily. The dog may not be able to.
2. The cat has to be able to jump and to escape the dog. No matter how sweet and friendly the dog is, if the cat moves quickly, it may trigger a prey instinct, and the dog will chase the cat. Try not to let them interact, when you are not there.
3. Same with the housekeeper. If the housekeeper is good with dogs, then you're OK, but if she's wary of dogs, then you need to be there to monitor the dog to teach him to leave her alone.... You don't know how he'll react to the vacuum cleaner... you might introduce him to it, before she gets there.
And, dogs do like to explore dangerous cleaning materials, so you'll have to watch it.
 

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^^ All of the above. Our pup now has his own room - we made a little door for him, put his crate and toys in there for when we will be gone long periods - other than that we use his crate - its very soothing.
As for the litter, there is no solution - I tried and tried and tried to train Loki to stay away - no beans. So we installed one of those chain slider locks on the door to the cat littler, the cats can fit but he sure can't!
The stairs are a different issue - we have the same problem with our basement - between training sit, come when hes called he as MOSTLY learned to only go down there when hes called ... still a work in progress, but I would suggest giving it a try. I have found the reason is that, its a new place to explore, so to lessen the curiosity I put him on his leash, took him down there, let him sniff around - no play time strictly business - and then we left. I can't say if its tried the proven, but it works for us so maybe ...
 

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I agree.
Spraying with a water bottle to keep your pup away from the cat litter is much harsher than using a gate to block off the "cat room", so to speak.
We have two dogs, two cats, and a parrot. Everyone gets along great, most of the time. Occasionally, the dogs decide the want to play rougher than the cats want to, or they want to play when the cats don't want to play. So, our cats have a cat room, blocked off with a baby gate, so the cats can get in, but the dogs can't follow. The cats can chill out in their climbing cat tree, or use the litter box, and not be bothered with the dogs.

Really, there's nothing wrong with gates. I understand people who chose not to, or don't believe in using crates/kennels, but I've never heard of that philosophy being applied to baby gates as well.
Heck, that's why they were invented, except for babies/toddlers.
 
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