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Overwhelmed... needing support.

1465 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  TGKvr
Hey! So this past Friday my family and I adopted our new family member! A 4y/o male chow chow/ australian sheperd mix. He was rescued from an overpopulated shelter in Atwater, California and sent up to Washington. We met him 3 weeks ago and fell in love. Sadly he came down with kennel cough and though he was ours he had to be placed in foster. This was mainly due to the fact that he needed to be neutered still. Alas, after many weeks of preperation and anticipation we got to take him home! He's been doing good, aclimating well but I keep doubting myself and how we are welcoming him. We have two cats who have yet to meet him. Apparently he chased a cat at his foster because of poor introductions. He shows little sign of a prey drive, yes he gets excited by squrriels but he is gentle with toys and not a fan of barking. Maybe a bit of a chaser though. Anyway, we want to kennel train him but with his cone it inhibits us from starting. He can sit on command with a treat though and is very responsive to corrections. Ok, but to get to my point I've had some puppy blues. I miss having my usual routine with my kitties by my side and I worry I am ruining their lives. Not to mention, our dog, Naches is his name, is by our side constantly and since we can kennel train him yet we can't get him use to us leaving. This is an issue since this coming Friday nobody will be home for an hour. I'm blessed to have my family in support for welcoming this pup but I just need some reassurance that I'm not setting him up for failure and that I can get my cats back to a comfortable reality asap.
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Naches may or may not chase your cats. If he chased one in foster, he is likely to chase one in your home unless you have super confident cats who stand their ground and do not run. How a dog is with toys and how much they bark are not necessarily indicative of how much prey drive they have or how they treat cats. The most useful information would be how he treated cats in his previous home, if he has known history.

Regardless, I would recommend preparing for the worst and setting boundaries from the start. If his cone makes it hard for him to be kennel trained (it's not impossible, it is just a hassle and requires a large enough kennel), you might look into using an exercise pen or gates instead. Also, they make inflatable neck pillow type 'cones' these days that prevent a dog from licking certain areas but allows a lot more range of motion, such as eating out of a bowl comfortably and eating out of a Kong. You might look into that.

But the bottom line is, unless your cats are super confident and Naches is respectful of cats to begin with, you might be looking at months of adjustment. Prevent ANY chasing from happening. Make sure your cats have comfortable hiding spots and tall places, or maybe even prevent Naches from entering a certain room that is the cats' favorite. On the flipside, teach Naches where he is allowed to be and reward any calm behavior around the cats. When there are animal dynamics to work out in a household, I never allow the new dog free reign and instead restrict them to a small area where they 'live', and they are allowed in the greater area only under supervision, on a leash, and when training/settling directly with me. It is much easier to prevent mistakes, accidents, and habit forming. It is harder to restrict a dog after it has already experienced greater household freedom and it is harder to train after they've discovered chasing is fun.
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Thanks! Yeah I'm unsure about my cats confident level but my one youger cat wouldn't be afraid of giving him a firm swipe. Also, reading back I know it was silly of me to examine his toy habits as prey drive. In his old foster all we know is that he chased the cat only once it ran and that it sounded like the foster parent just threw him in a room with the cat on the first day.
I'd keep the animals apart at first. Once they can stroll past without any signs of excitement on either side then start having the dog leashed around the cats. I like to build a history of calm before building a real relationship. If cat gets chased from the start then cat may have a harder time learning to stop running. If cat has had hours and hours near the dog without getting chased cat may figure out how to swat a rude dog.

I have an exercise pen to confine new animals. Perhaps you can find a way to tether him so the collar doesn't get caught on things. Leash on, loop under a furniture leg with nice comfy bed of some sort right there. Does he even need one? Ginger never bothered her spay site and no collar was necessary. Other times I just watched and if interrupting the rubbing/scratching didn't work the collar went on. I really watched. If dog started to move in that manner that ends up in scratching/rubbing I interrupted by calling dog's name and having him/her move a bit. If dog lifts leg and looks at the surgical site dog is going to start licking so interrupt any looking or lifting!
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Definitely keep them separated in a way that they can perhaps see each other but not gain physical access. My cat (RIP Gabbi) took 6 months to come downstairs when we got our new puppy, despite having lived with dogs all her life. Eventually they became buddies, but it really did take a long time. Partly because my cat wasn't happy with the new addition, and partly because the puppy had no idea what to do with a cat. Excessive curiosity got her popped on the nose and now whenever she meets new cats she's very cautious. I'd just monitor how curious they are with one another and follow their cues to guide the progression of interaction.
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