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Hello, I am new here.

I need advise on introducing a dog and cat and also adjusting a dog to a new home.

I have a 7 year old female cat who is kind of temperamental at times and a 3 year old male cat who is super easy going. I just got a Labrador Retriever/Terrier mix who we think is 1 year old and I haven't introduced them yet because the dog has never been around any other animals (which I didn't know until after I got her) and my cats have never been around dogs. I'm not worried about my younger cat because he gets along with anything that moves but I am worried about the older cat, she was mad at me for bringing the other cat home but she eventually bonded with him when I moved into a new apartment, I think it was because they were both in a new place and the only thing familiar was me and each other. Now she treats him like her baby. The cats are staying with my mom for right now.

From what I know about the dog is she is scared of men because she was abused by a man and she is scared of kids because the previous owners kids would hurt her/be mean to her and they wouldn't stop the kids. She seems to have taken a very strong attachment to me, she follows me everywhere. I can't leave the room without her wanting to be with me and she stands by the door crying if I go outside. I have to shut her in the bedroom if we leave because she gets destructive and possibly throws up judging by the smell of the room if I am gone for to long. She seems to stand watching the crack under the door the whole time I am gone when she is in the bedroom. She seems to be okay with my boyfriend and our male room mate but sometimes she does drop to the floor when they approach her. She tried to go after my boyfriend once the second day we got her when he moved towards me to quickly but since then she has been okay as long as I'm not gone for to long. If I am gone for several hours and she is left alone with the guys she will refuse to go to the bathroom outside for them and have accidents in the house very frequently.

She chews on her paws a lot, I don't know if that is a anxiety thing or what because when there are kids or my brother around she chews her paws more and she will bite the carpet, it's not chewing along the outside of the area rug, she is actually biting the middle of the carpet and putting a hole in it. My mom thinks maybe my brother reminds her of the man who used to abuse her.
My sister jokes that my dog has PTSD because my sister backed up and her leg lightly touched my dog and she jumped, went skidding across the wood floor and flying into the shoe rack.

Sometimes she will also refuse to eat and will throw up what looks like stomach acid, I talked to a vet about it and they said she will eat when she gets hungry enough but she doesn't. I have to either hand feed her or put something on it like water, buttermilk or egg.

We had been talking about getting a dog but my boyfriend really wanted a German Shepherd but I got a call from a friend about a dog who wasn't being treated right or even taken care of by an adult. She was being fed by the only child who didn't hurt her who is a 4 year old. The woman had wanted a dog but didn't want to have the responsibilities of it and the man hates animals. My friend talked the woman into giving the dog up and I took her.

Any tips at all would be amazing. We had family dogs when we were kids but this is my first on my own dog.
 

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Best to you, , it will take time working one level of learning at a time. I always control my environment, New dogs don't have to be put in a position that they will have to make a decision on how to respond. All they need to focus on coming into my house hold is the basics.. eat sleep/rest potty walks , activity/personal time for learning. My establish dogs are on the same type of schedule. Everyone learns that our home is a safe place for them. Keep your schedule on schedule so the dogs learns to anticipate what is coming next, don't over stimulate them with too many things and changes all at once.. adjustment first, learn daily schedule, feel safe..... use that time to introduce single ob skills , activity play time to develop interaction skills and rules manners playing simple games together. Once you have the individuals with some skills to work with you can work on introducing the rules about cats.. Right now I have a new kitten in the house.. and my two youngest dogs have first skill to learn during kitty time together is to ignore the kitten.. everyone lays down and minds their own business while the kitten is running around being a silly kitten doing kitten things. (not easy for younger dogs but at least they know leave it, down stay to help learn the new application of those skills) Everyone is doing fine but it's little short activities as to no overwhelm them in the beginning... The Hands off calmer we can start the better for not starting off with bad habits that the cat is a toy for their amusement.. This is the first time I am using a cat cage and I love it.. I've always done crate time for the dogs and baby gates for the dogs to separate everyone and to control the environment.. I really like the cat cage to help out.. And the kitten had already been exposed to a controlled environment and schedule from his breeder before coming to my home and that was a big help for the kitten to already be accustom to a cat cage area. So if you decided to use a cage/house/crating system for the cats you will have to spend the time to introduce your cats to them as positive safe places first. Anything can work and work well if you can accomplish everyone feeling safe and confident in your home, that they have skills to work with, and that you understand where they need help to assist them so they don't make a mistake but be able to be put into a position they can learn the right answer.

Adele my corso is just fine with the Kitty zooming through the room up and down the cat tree, even jumping on her, over her, batting at her face... What Adele can't handle is the kitten playing with the cat toys since the kitten loves to carries them in his mouth and run around.. so we don't bring the cat toys out with the kitten at this time... the little things to help them as individuals until they ready to handle them.
 

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Your dog may have PTSD if she was really in a place where the only nice person was a four year old child! Even dogs that are rehomed from less traumatic situations take a good long while to get comfortable. Ginger has been here 4 months, took a couple weeks to play and bark and I think is settled in but perhaps not.

I wouldn't be feeding her from a bowl at all. She desperately needs to learn to trust people again and hand feeding is a great way to start. Put all her kibble ration in a dish and throughout the day have people drop a piece by her as they pass. At the usual fixed meal times take some out and handfeed each bit talking gently to her as you do so. Don't expect her to even take it from everybody's hand at first either. Just having a bit of food appear when a person is near is good for now. Once she is looking for the treat the person can start talking to her in a soft voice then talk and hand feed. This is going to be different for each person, one person may be handfeeding her in a couple hours and another perfectly nice person may need to take weeks to get to that point.

Max gets 'sticky' where he cannot start doing something that worries him. Perhaps getting her started eating if you need her to eat from a bowl would get the bowl emptied. Put the bowl down, take some kibble out and give it to her, lower your hand for each new handful and get out of her way if she starts to show interest in eating from the bowl.

She is likely a combination of hungry and extremely anxious so having those episodes. Max was the same way [even came from a place with an angry man according to a chance encounter with a trainer who recognized him] and if I gave him a substantial snack just before bedtime it took care of most of his bile vomits.

Sounds like she would be happier in a crate or exercise pen or tethered someplace in the room with you for now. She needs to watch all that goes on in the home but not be involved right now so she can feel safer. Something as simple as loudly reading off a phone number could be scary, people laughing is definitely scary as is hugging and such. Max took a year to be able to count how many people were in the house and stop barking when an out of sight person walked down the hall! Take her out every hour for a potty break and pop her back in with a few bits of kibble or something tastier. I'd have the guys go with you on some of the potty breaks and stand back talking to you so she gets used to their presence outside as well as inside. Do continue to leave her for very short periods of time and don't make a big deal about it.

Does she have anything to chew on? Kongs can be stuffed with tasty stuff like canned dog food, peanut butter - any number of things. Once she gets the goodies out maybe you will luck out and she will continue to chew on it rather than the rug. If she really likes to 'kill' things then give her a cardboard box or tube to destroy. Think about wrapping small dry treats [kibble works] in clean paper and stuff many wrapped treats into the tube or box and hand it over. Big mess to clean up but so much fun for the dog. Treats need to be dry so the dog doesn't eat much paper.

Other than keep new animals separated from the old ones I haven't any advice on introducing the cats.
 

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Kathyy gave you some great pointers.
I do have a couple on the cats though....not sure which will work and which will not. Your cat combo (older and younger, grumpy and friendly) sounds like my pair.

First off if you have a crate and the dog is being crate trained, try having the dog in the crate while the cats are out (I wouldn't suggest the cats in a crate and the dog out...last thing you need is to give the cats no where to run if the dog does scare them...it could make them reluctant from then on). Don't make a big deal out of the cats, treat them like you normally would. Give treats for calmness when looking at the cats....watch body language closely here though, if it looks like the dog is giving them the evil eye, despite not moving, don't treat for that, you don't want to give the dog treats for showing the wrong kind of interest if that makes sense. Let your dog get used to seeing the cats around to the point that they aren't the absolute focus when they are around.

If not crate trained, or once you've done some work with the crate at very least have your dog tethered to you or on a leash which is FIRMLY in your grasp, keep a really good distance from the cats (you might want to start one cat at a time, and start with the friendlier one). Treat for calm or even treat for looking at you rather than looking at the cat. Curiousness is ok, so long as it doesn't include lunging or barking or anything that might seem aggressive or fearful (who knows your dog could be scared of them!).

You need to decide what level of interaction you want between the cats and the dog. This of course will depend on the initial reactions. If it is super calm and good, you might be able to allow more interaction, though you may also want to encourage the dog to completely ignore the cats, but be careful either way. Don't leave them unattended until you've seen every situation you think could happen, for example what will the dog do if the cat finally pulls out some claws and takes a swipe (our old guy does this occasionally from above the dogs on the kitchen table....). Make sure the cats always have escape routes, or high spots they can be away from the dog, make sure litter boxes are somewhere private, you really don't want your cat holding it, getting a UTI or crystal block because it is scared to go to the box. Make sure their food and water is somewhere safe and only cat-accessible as well (though eventually, who knows it might be like my bunch....the cats go to the dogs water dish constantly despite having their own filtered fountain!).

If you are considering allowing free-roam for all of the animals (and you've done some preliminary work and it is promising), start slowly and make sure you baby gate areas where the cats can chill with no chance of a dog wandering the area, if you are confident your dog isn't going to eat a cat right off the bat you can allow the cats to come and go from this area (SUPERVISED at very least until you are VERY comfortable with the interactions! Just think "curiosity killed the cat" this can be very true).

Don't forget to consider your cats too...it doesn't hurt to give them some treats for being reasonable as well! If they are calm and cool around the dog, AWESOME! Give treats for that! A tiny piece of cheese can be a good cat treat if you don't want to buy store bought ones (though don't overdo it!). Little treats for both once you've worked up to getting them fairly close can be a great way to get both of them focusing on other things while being near to each other.

These are some of the things that I did with my cats, and we made it to a point that one of our fosters regularly cuddles with one of the cats and mostly ignores the other (I think he wanted to eat them when he first met them), and the other dog is great with both though isn't a cuddler (even on the rare occasion they get swatted from above there have been no injuries or real incidents). I don't have a dog that was abused like yours though, our fosters were at most a bit neglected, so I'm not sure how these things will work for you. You'll probably do better if you get a bit of a bond and a bit of trust with the dog and get to know it better before you really delve into things. If you want any other suggestions I can share more of the details of what I did, just let me know, though I can't guarantee that it'll help, but it might. I've been told that there are some dogs that just will not be safe with cats ever...so be prepared for that eventuality as well, I haven't run into it yet, but I can't help but respect the possibility of a horrible outcome if there isn't at least some true caution and preparation done to try introducing them safely.

Also, big kudos to you for taking on this dog, it's going to take tons of time, effort and love (but don't forget rules too), but when you get through to her and you see her personality come out it'll be a beautiful thing. I wish you lots of luck!
 
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