Tips for introducing puppy to cat

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logansmum's picture
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Joined: 2014-06-12

Hi

I'm new here and will be getting my puppy in just over a week.
Was wondering if anyone has any tips on puppy/cat introduction ? My cat has grown up with the family dog (dalmatian) but hasn't lived with a dog for nearly 6 months and never a puppy.

The puppy will be confined to downstairs to start with due to having a spiral stair case so i want the lil man to be a bit bigger and stronger before i allow him up them. So there will be a baby gate on the bottom with a cat flap so the cat can come and go. I'm hoping that this will mean that the introduction will be at the cats pace. He tends to be a little cautious of new thing (not scared) and tends to sit on the stairs looking at whomever is new in the house.

I know not to allow puppy to ever chase the cat and i intend to reward any calm behavior/interaction between the two. I intend to clicker use training.

And advise will be greatly appreciated

Thanks

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

Hi logansmum and welcome to the forum.

I don't have a cat with my 15mo dobe yet, but we intend on getting one soon. This is kind of the reverse situation to you in that you already have the cat.

I am working hard on the foundation training. The down-stay works better for me with a bigger/older dog because it is harder to break from. The down with the hip dropped to one side is much harder to break from than the sphinx down so I would encourage the pup to drop on a hip before marking the down.

Impulse control is going to be key (at least for Storm) so even seemingly unrelated stuff will be important, such as heeling and loose leash walking. Getting her to pay as much attention to me as possible is important too. I've been getting good results lately by delivering frozen Kongs full of tasty stuff and its amazing how much closer she sticks to me because she just never knows what good things will come from her best buddy. 'Take it' and 'leave it' training will also be critical. Practise with higher and higher value treats until the pup is as stable as possible.

Teaching the pup to be gentle with his jaws would be a good idea, so I wouldn't punish play biting, but use it as a great way to teach the puppy to develop a soft mouth. You dont want a doberman mouthing a cat, but if by chance they do, a soft mouth would give your cat some chance of safety. I've posted about this in other places, but essentially what I did with Storm was to mark and treat licking during play biting sessions and using the cue 'gentle'. Very quickly the pup learns that licking gets him treats but biting gets him nil. Using the screech when the biting gets too hard would be a good idea, and gradually screeching at lower and lower jaw pressures. Play biting sessions are essential for pups to teach them just this lesson. It will stand them in great stead for their future lives. 

I have also taught my dog 'careful'. During tug sessions, if my dog gets too close to my hand I tell her 'gentle' and I keep my hand on the toy, but stop play with dogs mouth on the toy. I let the toy go limp. The pup will naturaly try to keep playing but learns to move his mouth away from your hand on the toy. As soon as the dog moves away from the hand, I start the game up again, mark, and cue 'careful' and really make a big deal of getting on with the game. If the dog touches my hand, I drop the toy and turn my back for 5-10 secs before trying again. I find this does transfer into other realms. In the dog park playing with other dogs if the play gets a bit boistrous I cue 'careful' and Storm tones the play down a little. If a kid plays with Storm, I use careful just to remind her to be watchful in her play. I'm sure this will work with a cat.

Basically anything that quickly gets the pups attention away from the cat and on to you, would be very beneficial. During walks you can stop and wait for your dog to look at you before starting off again. When you feed your dog and put them in a stay, waiting for eye contact before feeding would help too. Before going through a gate or door to outside, waiting for eye contact etc just help tip the odds he will respond quickly to you in your favor. Its not about global domination, its just a gentle way of keeping attention on you in case you need it.

Training in different rooms, places, environments all will strengthen the behaviors. Gradually increasing the distractions will help too. I would begin my training with the pup, with the cat in another room with the door shut at first. Gradually increasing the distractions is important, and if the cat randomly wanders in front of fido during training, it could set the training back.

As I mentioned, I don't have a cat at the moment, but we are planning on getting one soon, so these are all the things I've been thinking about recently in preperation for the big day.

Another thought too, I've heard cats can be clicker trained. I've never tried it, but it might be fun to experiment with. It might be handy to clicker train the cat to go to high ground for example...

I look forward to all the great tips and info from the experienced people here on the forum who are actually living the dream :)

Konkie's picture
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Joined: 2014-05-06

Pet Profiles

I introduced my puppy to my parents cat and small dog as they will be holiday sitters for us. My girl was 8 weeks old and was not interested in the cat in the slightest (The yorkshire terrier was her new play thing)!

The cat ran away from my puppy and took himself upstairs- pup hasnt worked out stairs yet, but later on while pup was having a rare lie down the cat did come in and sniff her and pup wasn't at all bothered and received lots of praise.

Just wanted to share my experience :) it may be more difficult with an older dog that has developed more of a prey drive- at the moment my girl is unsure/timid of pigeons and squirrels!

logansmum's picture
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Joined: 2014-06-12

Oz Dobe - You can clicker train cats i have trained my cat to do a few things through clicker training such as sit an high 5. I like the idea of training him to get up high might have to try that as a last min thing.

Sounds like your very prepared for introducing a cat into your family hope it all goes well when you final do. One thing that might help is that when we introduced cats to are dally we put the cat carrier up onto the sofa so it was more at head height then gave him a kong whist we got the kitten out and the put the carrier on the floor whist keeping hold of kitty this meant that he in theory should smell the carrier first and so have the smell before the excitement of the new fluffy play thing on your knee. If you don't trust him enough to have them that close first time then i would keep them separate but still allow her to smell the carrier and then slowly introduce them maybe have her one lead so if she become to excited remove her completely till shes calms down and try again ?


I was planing on teaching bite inhibition as appose to a straight out no biting for the reasons that you mentioned if i accidently end up in the situation of his mouth round me ie play getting to rough then i want him to have a reaction to soften his mouth. I thing its best for all dogs just my personal opinion.

Konkie - My little man will only be 8 weeks when i get him so still young enough to learn just the breeder has no small pets (dogs or cats) so it will be a new play thing thats the same size as his litter mates. I'm expecting a look of disgust as my cat goes upstairs when we bring him home (he does that with anyone that visits) so i doubt there will be any face to face interaction straight away.

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

Thanks logansmum, the scenting first idea is a really great one. I may even try this a few days before collecting the actual cat. Maybe associating the scent with some calmness training..We'll be picking the cat up from the nearest Animal Welfare League shelter and they know me there, so they'll be happy to help.

Leashing the dog when introducing the cat will be a must at first for sure.

I'm not into clicker training my dog, but I might have a go with a cat (it might save some confusion with the dog hearing the cat being clicked during training).

Have you had dobes or sight hounds before (dobes are not strictly sight hounds, but they are so similar I consider them one)?

Its great you guys can introduce/socialize your pups with cats at such a young age. Its so good to expose them to as much as you can in puppyhood.

One more thing I meant to mention too, which might come in handy is aclimatizing pup to be comfortable with his collar being held (being restrained). Hold the collar, give a treat, release with 'go play'. Hold the collar give a treat, ask the pup to sit, release with 'go play'. Same with the down. It teaches that having their collar restrained is not the end of the world, in fact it leads to more play.

If you can graduate to remote sits and downs that would be great too. In and emergency sometimes (feline or canine) lives can be saved by practising these as a desperate last ditch command. A while ago my leashes clip failed and Storm was essentially free. I was able to last ditch command a STOP stand stay until I could calmly walk up to her and tie my leash to the collar. In the cat v dog situation this could be a good failsafe.

logansmum's picture
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Joined: 2014-06-12

He will be my first Doberman but I was the primary career and did the vast majority of training with the family dally which aren't considered an easy breed either. I am aware that there different but they do share similar traits such as wanting to be with you and liking there home comforts, being suborn and plotting (usually to steal food) so I hope this puts me in good stead with what ever puppy throws at me.

 

I like the idea of de sensitization him to having his collar held can help in so many dif situations thing I'll add it to my ever growing list of things to teach. 

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

Dally = Dalmation? One of Storms best freinds is Dalmation. They get on like siblings even though the Dalmation is around 6mo ahead of her. They are very close because, yes, the breeds seem very similar, although Dobes don't seem to have the same dietary issues Dalmations have (the black and tans anyway).

If you've worked with Dalmations I'm sure you'll find dobes very similar. It will be interesting to get your take on it. If I was to get a second dog, it would be a dalmation (the wife wants either a Dalmation or a pug - NO CONTEST lol), because the energy levels, natures and intelligence would be  very close to each other.

logansmum's picture
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Joined: 2014-06-12

Yes sorry I should have made that clear. Is nice to hear someone that knows how intelligent they are most people thing there stupid, which they are in a daft way usually straight after doing something really clever :P 

I'd defo go for a dally over a pug but I'm very bias 

Glad to hear someone else that thinks having a dally will help with a done I always thought it but nice hearing it from someone else.