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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We've got a bit of a cat chasing problem in my house, and I kind of blame the cats. Hamilton is nearly 16 wks old, and has been with us for 8 wks tomorrow. He is a doxie mix, and weighed in at 9.9 lbs last night. He was 3.8 when we got him, so much smaller than our smallest cat who is around 12 lbs (fwiw, I have large cats, not fat cats). We have three cats. At first he just ignored the cats, or would go to check them out, and they'd hiss and he'd back off right away. Then my youngest cat started to engage him more, and would chase him a little, and peek around furniture and bat at him, and Hamilton was all over having a play mate but now he chases all of them and pisses them off. The trainer we're taking classes with said NOT to let him chase them, but I'm failing to see how this is practical, so maybe I'm just not thinking of something... which is where you guys come in.

We have an open layout first floor to our home, which is the only floor the dog is allowed on. The cats have all of upstairs, and all of the basement to themselves. Additionally, we got an extra wide gate (not easy to find that isn't slats a small dog could climb through!!) to block off the family room from the rest of the first floor, and that is "Hamilton's Room" where we play with him and let him run around with the least supervision. In this room there are high windowsills he cannot jump up on, furniture he can't jump up on, and cat towers he can't climb. Therefore, the cats absolutely insist on being on the floor in the room with the dog at all times. The youngest cat Matrix jumps OFF THE WALL to get over the 27" high gate to get in. If you put him out he jumps right back in again. If the dog chases him out, you guessed it, right back in. The second oldest cat can also get over it, the oldest cat cannot and generally doesn't care to be in here. The trainer said not to have the cats and dog in the same room but there is NO way to prevent it. They come in, the youngest will walk right up and engage him, then look all upset and offended when he gets chased. I think the puppy thinks its a game, and doesn't see the cat as prey (after all he does stop chasing and turn around and run the other way like "Ok your turn!"), but the cats just want to be left alone. When we're coming and going through the other rooms I keep Hamilton on leash if there's a cat around. It isn't practical to have my hyper and largely accident-free puppy on a leash in his own space at all times. We try to distract him, but even if he's minding his own business they get right up in his face. We reward him when he's calm and the cats are around, but the chases rage on! Is there anything I haven't thought of here considering there is absolutely no way to keep the cats out of the room, and they are choosing to be in here!
 

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Well, there are a number of highly desirable "cat things" in that room, and it's always been part of their territory, so I understand why they'd be attracted to it. Cats aren't going to just shrug their shoulders and figure "welp, that's the puppy's room now", they're more like "WHAT IS THAT PUPPY DOING IN MY ROOM I'M GOING IN ANYWAY NOW HE'S BUGGING ME MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM." And of course cats are cats... some of them crave stirring up drama as much as a pack of junior high school girls and what is more dramatic than getting each other, the puppy, and you involved in this big old game every time you want some peace and quiet.

My point is that you can't change feline nature, so don't bang your head against that wall. And teaching a puppy to leave the cats alone is a long process with a lot of repetition... it took about 16 months of constant practice, running interference, and time-outs to get to this point in my house:



Yes. SIXTEEN MONTHS. And he will still try to bug them sometimes. So brace yourself, and don't give up.

Some practical things you might try... one, is putting a second gate on top of the first one that the cats truly can't physically get over, through, or around. Or rig up something homemade, such as getting a roll of window screening you can hang across the doorway above the gate - although they might try to go through it a couple of times. Another would be to move the puppy's area to somewhere less valuable to the cats OR make another room more valuable to the cats by moving their furniture and maybe putting in some window sill cat nappers. You can also mount your baby gate about 6 inches off the floor so the cats have an easier time of escaping once they realize it's maybe not such a good idea to be in that room with the puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm not giving up... I'm just at a loss of what else I could be doing.

The entire house is desireable to the cats. They have scratchers and furniture in the other rooms. They have beds on the windowsils and heaters all over the house. So it isn't like ALLLL their stuff is in the room where the puppy is. I don't think there's a room in the house without their stuff, and I'm hesitent to move their family room tower because it is a safe place they can be in the room where the puppy has no chance of getting anywhere near them.

There's no way of better gating off the room. I'll have to take a picture when I'm home tonight. The only thing separating the kitchen from the family room is a peninsula in the kitchen. Right now the gate goes from the end of the peninsula to the wall (we had to drill into the cabinets to put the gate up!). There is no doorway, and nothing higher to attach a gate from the wall to (of course the wall goes to the ceiling, but the peninsula is counter height). Even if we dangled something from the ceiling, the cats would just get up on the counter and go over that way. The gate can't be installed any higher than it is due to counter height. The cats who can get in can also escape super quickly, they just fly right over the thing!

I think you're right that feline nature is coming into play here as much as puppy nature. My cats are VERY persistent. I could spend all day putting them out of the room over and over again, but it would get me nowhere in the end.
 

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I have a slightly similar situation with our puppy and one of our two cats. Our female cat keeps to herself for the most part and when she does come in a room that the puppy is in she stays away from her and Zoey has learned to leave her alone for the most part. But our male cat, Rocky, likes to instigate as much as he can. He will come into the living room where Zoey is quietly sleeping or chewing her bone and rub up against her or sit right in front of her. Rocky will play with the dogs, but Zoey is still learning how to play with him. She will get too rough and he will get pissed and run away and then she chases him. I'm trying to manage this by correcting her when she chases and hoping that she learns that rough play = no play. Also hoping she starts learning from Rocky what is ok and what is not. Rocky will growl, bite and whack if neccessary. But I get irritated with Rocky because he instigates it! If he brings it on himself and bothers her, I let him deal with the consequences, unless they get dangerous. We do have a gate and our female cat will jump the gate to get in/out. Rocky is fat and lazy and will sit by it and cry until someone opens it for him....
 

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I would say use this! Do some sessions with him on leash, if you can try to predict when the cat might get playful, hang out nearby and when you see things start hold the leash and treat good interactions. Caeda and our cat Hemi have chase games, but we've got it to the point now that if Hemi is "caught" it is relatively good. So long as Caeda is being gentle, its ok. If the cat cries or whines I try to figure out if she is being a drama queen (sometimes she cries if Caeda sniffs her....drama queen moment). If its drama, I leave it be (hey, she doesn't want it she shouldn't start it), or just call Caeda over to me. If Caeda is wound up, which still happens occasionally and is a little too rough or doing something that I'm not ok with (cat's head in her mouth!!! YIKES, incredibly gentle, but I don't like it!) I'll tell Caeda no, call her off, and if I have to tell her "Bad" (previously known cue from bite inhibition teaching) sometimes I"ll pull her off, though that is uncommon these days. We area at a point now that they often cuddle on the bed, or nose/lick each other (yup, the cat licks the dog).
One other thing I've done, which may or may not be ok with you is a squirt gun....for the cat. Caeda LOVES the squirt gun, so it just distracts her, Hemi HATES it, so it serves the dual purpose of telling the cat that she's being a jerk, and distracting Caeda at the same time. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it has curbed the habit Hemi had for a while of climbing Caeda's legs using claws (and somehow never got bit for it!)
Sassafras is right, it takes a long time and a lot of work, but when you see that cuddling (or gentle play) its so worth it. Cats can be such jerks sometimes lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Fortunately, the cats hit him with a closed fist (they have claws but never use them), and haven't ever hurt him. I'm trying to reward everyone for positive interactions. I really think Sir Didymus wants to be his friend, since we get this sometimes:


But then he'll wake up and hiss at him, and it's like "You're just bein' a tool here, guy." Atticus and Sir Didymus (Atticus more than anyone) will hiss at Hamilton while he's sitting on the floor playing with a toy and minding his own business. That annoys me; there's no reason for it. I support putting the puppy in his place if he's being annoying, but it's frustrating when they do it when he's not bothering them, because it sets him off. My only concern with the spray bottle (because I'm not opposed to using it for the cats - Hamilton, like Caeda, thinks it's neat) is that I don't want them to associate him with bad things. I don't want them to think they're being punished for being near the dog.

This is the view from the couch out, where you can see his penned area and crate where he sleeps, and the gate that keeps him in the room. There is nothing else I can do to keep this room blocked off more. (And pardon the mess... it's the end of the week and the puppy takes priority over cleaning after work!)
 

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AAHHHHHH SO CUTE! It took AGES for us to get Caeda and Hemi to get that close and be calm! Looks like you've got a great start. Honestly, I would suggest keep doing what you are doing. It'll take some time (lots) for the puppy exuberance to calm down, and it'll take a while for the cats to get more used to Hamilton. Our other cat Ollie has just started getting better about being near Caeda, just last night he actually came up on the bed with her there!!! He stared at her, cuddled us for a bit, looked at Caeda again and then hissed suddenly and took off (I don't think Caeda did anything but blink!). It took a year for them to be less than 6 feet apart without at least one of them (usually Ollie) freaking out. Having the pets together like in your picture really reinforces that being calm allows them to all hang out with you, but if they get hyper and start battling obviously they can't do that anymore.....overall reinforcing that being calm with each other is a good thing. Just watch for any excessive play as Hamilton gets older and bigger and you'll (likely) be fine. With cats and dogs together, even if they seem fantastic there's always a risk, but if that risk stays really small you might just get away with it (we have so far!).
Oh, and btw, my house makes yours look like something out of Home and Garden lol....and that would be pretty impossible to block off and still have a usable space!
 

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Agree with Greater Swiss^^. Praise praise praise the good calm behavior and avoid/interupt the bad/not calm behavior. And it takes time. We've had Zoey for about 8 weeks now. She was just starting to get better about not chasing and being less interested in them. Now Rocky has decided he wants to play with/pick on her and she's all crazy and interested in them again. Back to working on no chasing for Zoey. And if Rocky wants to instigate....his problem to deal with! lol Keep up the good work, that pic is adorable.
 

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Well, there are a number of highly desirable "cat things" in that room, and it's always been part of their territory, so I understand why they'd be attracted to it. Cats aren't going to just shrug their shoulders and figure "welp, that's the puppy's room now", they're more like "WHAT IS THAT PUPPY DOING IN MY ROOM I'M GOING IN ANYWAY NOW HE'S BUGGING ME MOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM." And of course cats are cats... some of them crave stirring up drama as much as a pack of junior high school girls and what is more dramatic than getting each other, the puppy, and you involved in this big old game every time you want some peace and quiet.
Man...junior high schoolgirls, acting like little kids...

Wally's already an overdramatic diva dog - I'm glad I don't have cats! Granted, when I stayed with a neighbor who had two cats, Wally growled at one initially, but then was like "meh" whatever - and he usually wants to chase cats! I guess the "I'm in a house" context overrode, "CAT! CHASE NAO GO GO LEGS!"
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks folks. That made me feel a bit better about the cat situation. I typed up this whole long reply last night and the forum ate it. The dynamic around here is so weird. Not long after that picture was taken, the cat turned around, hissed, hit the dog a few times, and ran off. Of course the cat is the one who walked over in the first place and cuddled up. I just have to wonder what is going through his wee brain! Another cat will walk right up to him and hiss and hiss and hiss at him when the dog is doing NOTHING! It makes no sense to me. He has the option to go someplace else, the dog isn't bothering him in any way, and yet the cat has to be a jerk. Hamilton will likely outweigh the cats at full growth (He's 16 wks and 10 lbs - so I'm figuring about 20 full grown), but I'm pretty certain that he will never be taller than them since he has the little doxie legs :D He's also sort of a tank for a small dog, so he looks smaller than his designer mutt buddy, but she actually weighs 3 lbs less than him!

We started puppy class on Tuesday and she's using clickers so we came home with a clicker and were practicing with him when we got home. My oldest cat showed up and was hanging around nearby and all agitated. I had forgotten that when he was a kitten (a decade ago), I had clicker trained him. So now the cat gets all hyped up for treats when the dog is getting clicks. On the plus side, he is the one who is the most afraid and it's an environment where they both are wanting treats, so I'm going to use that to my advantage and drop treats for both when the cat is hanging around. I'm going to have to find a treat pouch utility belt!

I think the picture well illustrates how "just block it off better" doesn't work around here! The house is GREAT for parties, but less so for partitioning off pet zones. We weren't ever planning on getting a dog when we bought the house - though we did remark "Oh a fenced in yard. That would be nice if we had a dog." :p
 

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Whenever you try to make sense out of anything a cat does, just remember that they are pretty much completely insane.
 
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