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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone.

My wife and I adopted a 2 year old pit about a week ago and have been running into some issues with her and our 5 yr old cat that we adopted just over 10 months ago. The initial introductions did not go well and unfortunately we did not research how to properly introduce them until after that first bout. Let me explain our situation a little first.

Our dog is not spayed (yet being the important word). We adopted her and made an appointment to have her spayed next week, but a few days ago she started to bleed and the vet confirmed that she is entering her heat cycle. Now we must wait a few weeks before having her spayed which is OK with us as we are dealing with her bleeding just fine. She walks great and keeps a loose leash about 90% of the time. She will try to run after birds or the occasional squirrel, but after a quick correction and she is walking great again.

Since the initial altercation we have kept them sperate for the most part with a few slip ups here and there. The dog only chased after the cat until we were able to separate them and she never came even close to catching the cat. We were able to get the dog on the leash with the cat a few feet away and start training her to be calm. Unfortunately, we can not get the cat to start investigating the dog as she appears to be scared. The cat is showing some signs of stress as she has peed on our bed twice even with me being extremely diligent in keeping a clean box and her eating has slowed.

We did have a major altercation that is causing us to have some doubts about our newly adopted pet. We had the cat in our basement while we let the dog roam around the house for some free time. The basement door was opened slightly as we were unpacking some groceries not expecting the cat to come up the stairs at that moment. Well the cat came up to the top step and with one glace the dog lunged forward, chasing her around our basement. I was able to get a hold of the dog's collar, but the dog got lose and tried to bite the cat. It my opinion it did not look playful at all and I have been reading about the prey drive of certain dogs which got us worried.

The shame of it is, this dog is so sweet otherwise as she just likes to cuddle and hang out, but we just can't keep dealing with this and worrying about our cat's safety. We are going to seek out the help of a behaviorist if they are not too expensive, but can any one help with some advice in the mean time? Is there even hope that she can be trained to leave our cat alone? Could being in heat be the reason she is so prey driven?

I should add I have grown quiet attached to the dog in the week we have had her, so the idea of having to surrender her is really heart wrenching and has me extremely choked up. Someone recommended that we leave our cat with a family member for the time being until the dog is out of heat. We are worried that will induce even more stress and acclimating the cat back to our house will be even harder if she does not have full range due to the dog. Sorry for the long post and again any ideas are greatly appreciated as we are on our last tries here.
 

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First, I would continue to keep the dog and cat separate while you work heavily on training (in general) with the new dog. Work on a strong LEAVE IT and a very solid STAY (a down stay is particularly good). If you have a good basic level of obedience with the dog, then working with a trainer on the cat issue will be easier and should progress faster.

Pits are terriers and plenty do have a strong prey drive towards cats and small animals like bunnies and squirrels. But I do know plenty who also live just fine with cats, including some that started out with a tendency to chase. A week is short time for the dog to be adjusting to her new home, the newness of the cat may wear off a bit and make training easier also.

Were you told she was "cat safe" when you adopted her? If she came from a rescue group and was in foster, ask them if she's been around cats there or how they dealt with it. If she was from a shelter, did they cat test her at all?

You can't have any slip ups though in letting the dog get to the cat in the meantime. Using baby gates that the cat can jump as a backup to doors could be a good precaution (baby gates are often found cheaply at garage sales or craigslist; just spray down a plastic one with bleach-water and let dry outside before using for sanitary reasons)

I doubt being in heat has much to do with it. My male hound, my previous spayed female pit foster and previous fixed male lab/pit foster all had high prey drives towards cats. I spent about 6-8 months training my hound to leave cats alone, he progressed from trying to kill them (actually getting a cat in his mouth and shaking it) to being able to be loose and off-leash around barn cats and generally ignoring cats on walks. I didn't have as much time with the female pit since she had a lot of other behavior issues we had to work on, but we did progress to being able to walk by cats in public with only a slight interest in chasing. My current pit foster appears to be cat-friendly, she shows almost no interest in the neighborhood free-roaming cats.

If you can afford a trainer (and in this case, many experienced trainers can handle this rather than a behaviorist; it isn't an uncommon issue), then do so. Around here, private training with a good trainer is about $50/hour and group classes about $80 for 6 weeks. A mix of the two might work for you.
Try asking a pit bull rescue in your area for a trainer recommendation. Please make surrendering her your last option, particularly to a shelter as that is basically a death sentence for a pit bull. If you absolutely cannot make it work, then contact a pit rescue and ask for placement help, keeping her until they find a suitable home which may be some time.
 

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impulse control is needed here. leave it and stay are parts of that but you kind of have to build up to impulse control with something like a cat. start with exercises like putting a treat in a fist and offering it to the dog. let doggie snuffle at the fist and attempt to get at the treat. hold out and don't budge or give in until doggie gives up trying. only when she moves away from your fist do you open it and drop the treat with a happy 'GOOD GIRL'. do this a couple times a day daily. take this general idea and try to apply it to everything you can.. .waiting at the door.. .waiting for attention.. ..waiting to be fed.. ..only give good things when doggie let's up on being pushy or begging or imperious.

also

teach her to ask for permission by looking to you. once she has the idea of 'I haz to wait for teh good thingz' step it up a notch. instead of dropping the treat when she begins to move away.. .try to catch her eye with your own and get her looking at you before you drop the treat/put down the bowl/open the door/etc.

work on these things with no distractions.. minimize loud noises, remove the cat, people and anything else that would distract her from the task at hand before doing it.

once you got her consistently looking at you on her own before any reward.. .you add in distractions starting with the small stuff...perhaps a favored toy just in the corner of her field of vision.

a good trainer would be a bonus because they can help you out with timing.. which is crucial.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
We adopted her from a rescue who was keeping her at a boarding facility for the time being. We were told that the boarding facility cat tested her and that she left the cat alone. When we took her outside to walk her for the first time she did want to chase after pigeons though.

I've been working with her this past week and she has started to respond to STAY and LEAVE IT is next on the list.

We wanted to get her into training ASAP after she was spayed, but with her going into heat we must wait until that passes before starting a class. That would be an 8 week session. We'd love to hire a personal trainer for her, but I am fearful it would require several classes and the costs would add up really fast. The rescue is trying to help us locate a trainer as we speak and it is definitely a nice feeling to have someone supporting us to know we are not in this alone.

Thanks for the training tips! I'm going to take her out for a walk and then start with these right away.
 

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Thanks for the links. I'm also trying to do my own research on training techniques so that I can start ASAP with her. I noticed many people on youtube click training. Is that generally recommended or not?

Also, she responded well to the treat in fist stuff. Initially she went and sniffed my hand for two seconds and then just laid down. After a few more treats she left didn't even go after my hand. This was after a long walk, though so I wonder if she was just tired.

We feel very torn by the situation. She is such a sweet dog otherwise and is so eager to please, but her instincts take over when she sees our cat and she is off the leash. On the leash she still gets excited but since i'm still in control she is not nearly as bad.
 

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Clicker training is good, it is helpful in being quick to mark the correct behavior. You can "clicker" train with a noise or a word also so that you always have the sound available.

Zim is the resident pit/bully expert but in my experience, I have found pit bulls to be very eager to learn and very interested in training. Exercise them well and provide them with mental stimulation and you have a very trainable dog to work with.
I agree with Zim that you want to find a bully breed friendly (aka "pit bull positive") training class. Some trainers just aren't used to them or may revert to stereotypes and use poor techniques. In general, I do not recommend the PetSmart/ PetCo classes, although you may have a specific trainer working at one locally that is good. PetSmart doesn't allow pit bull types in their daycare (at all, regardless of temperament testing) so I avoid them both because they tend to lack experience in that area and because I prefer not to support that policy financially.

Keep her leashed for awhile. Think of it like a new puppy who you tether to you (when you are home) or crate or confine (when alone) for potty training purposes. In this case, she is tethered or crated for cat training purposes.

Some places have free Canine Good Citizen classes for pit bull types. If you can attend one of those for general obedience, it frees up some money for 1-3 sessions of one-on-one training.
 

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Clicker training is a style that the exercises i told you about are a variation of and its fairly soundly grounded in good science. . the only one on youtube Id consistently recommend is a user called Kikopup. she has a really good grasp of the theory and is very accessible for the newcomer to marker training. Something i would google if i were you would be "Calming Signals" which is dognerdspeak for dog body language.

and if you want to you could put her where she can see the cat but cant get to it and take a short video of how she behaves. If you do that and post it, the training savvy folks could give you insight about whats going on. Just make sure you do it safely.

also you should post pictures :) just cuz lol
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll have to see if there are any free good citizen classes in our area cause that would definitely free up some money and I definitely agree on the petco/petsmart stance. When I was still living with my parents we never had success with any of their training programs and I think this bully bias that is so popular right now is terrible.

We've been keeping her crated during the day as she has some separation anxiety issues, so keeping her in there for the cat is not a problem.

We already have a pit friendly training class picked out. My sister used them when she adopted a pit and she graduated therapy dog school there, too. We were planning on signing her up for the next session which start the beginning of september. But due to her unexpected heat cycle we'll likely have to wait until October. That's why I want to try as much as possible on my own and potentially look for other options. The poor cat is stressed.

The cat is very afraid of the dog after yesterdays altercation. I'll try and put her in the crate or keep her leashed while we hold the cat so we can record her reaction.

She is a great dog, but we were just hit with the trifecta of cat aggression, heat, and separation anxiety and this is our first dog since moving out of our parent's places.Here are a few pics!







 

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That has got to be one of the most adorable pitties I've seen in awhile and given that I was at a pit bull fair on Saturday, she's got some tough competition for the adorable title.
 

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That has got to be one of the most adorable pitties I've seen in awhile and given that I was at a pit bull fair on Saturday, she's got some tough competition for the adorable title.
Thank you!! She definitely is a looker and great around humans.
 

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GIMME DAT PUPPEH!!!!!!!


lol


btw

heat shouldnt really affect her behavior a whole lot overall. the only real exception to that is if there happens to be an intact boy near her. Its actually arguably beneficial to let her have one heat because of a condition that can affect girls who were spayed very early where their girly parts are super tiny and the result is frequent UTIs. By letting her girly parts reach full maturity you decrease the chances of that issue. The only assured benefit of spaying is the assurance that you wont have any litters to deal with.

just sayin
 

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Discussion Starter #13
She is about 2 so she likely has been through 2 or maybe 3 heat cycles so far. She also gave birth about 3 months ago.

The poor thing was about to be thrown out on the street as pregnant as could be back in April when the rescue picked her up. Her separation anxiety is completely understandable considering what she has been through in the last few months.

Btw, I noticed today after our walk that she really enjoys birds as well. A whole flock flew over us and she barked/chased like crazy. Hopefully I'll be able to get her fairing better with them and cats fairly soon.
 

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Flirt pole is the best friend of any prey driven dog! Zim can tell you how to build your own...
 

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JehNJ-SzqG0

thing is

once you get impulse control down, a dog who has good prey drive can be really easy to train if you use their prey drive as a way to reward them

chasing is highly rewarding for your girl otherwise she wouldnt be doing it. you can take a negative like this and turn it into a positive. i had the same issue with my last pit that you have now except she didnt go after cats....she went after dogs. i fixed it with a flirt pole. but for now its a good way to get exercise
 

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Could a flirt pole make things worse for our cat?
nope

put yourself in her place for a second

"I LURVS TO CHASE AND RUNZ AND RUNZ AND CHASE!!!! Ownurz get not happies when i chase fluffy kitty. Ownurz get SOOPER HAPPIES when I chase thing on stick!!"


for a dog, as soon as they catch on...its kind of a no brainer

if you are told you CANT under NO circumstance do something you genuinely enjoy, you still have that desire and that drive. but if you are given an outlet, a safe and acceptable way to do exactly what you want to do without anyone getting peeved about it....which are you likely to prefer?
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Alright i'm gonna give it a try then. Thanks for all the tips!

I worked on her impulse control more tonight and she is getting better. I'll keep posting updates as I go.
 
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