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Thread: Cat and small dog problem :-(

  1. #1

    Default Cat and small dog problem :-(

    I have two dogs and one is a whippet x bull terrier and the other is a staffy.
    My staffy is very easy going, easy to walk, can take her anywhere and she will tolerate any dog but much prefers to be with humans and also doesn't mind cats (she lived with a cat prior to us having her)

    The whippet x on the other hand is extremely active and very sight focused and we have been having an awful time trying to train her. She will walk normally until she sees another dog- if its a larger dog she is okay and we can re-direct her easily, if its a small dog she will start a high pitched whine and lunge violently at the other dog- this escalates if the other dog barks (we are always on the other side of the street)... I'm finding it very difficult to hold her.

    She also has the same reaction with cats except worse... we have had instances of cats moving towards us and hissing and then taking a swipe at her which sends her off the edge. Basically she has a full on melt down and makes noises like she is dying and wants to kill the animal all at the same time. She has hunted and killed mice in our backyard and I'm afraid if she ever catches a cat she will kill it. We leave her treat balls during the day and walk her everyday. my husband also takes her cycling in the morning where she runs flat out and when she comes home she doesn't even pant!

    I have socialized her with my parents dogs which are HUGE mastiff types and she adores them and spends majority of the day playing with them. She is also exposed to horses which she tolerates but occasionally will focus on and make a half attempt to chase which I can re-direct easily.
    I don't have any opportunity to socialize her with smaller dogs and I'm afraid to take her to obedience training because she escalates further with unstable dogs. She also digs holes every day which I dont even mind anymore because there is nothing I can do to stop her. We are now moving to a more rural area for two reasons 1. to enjoy the space and 2. because of our dog!!
    But I really would like to try and sort out her problem with small animals.

    I just dont know how to deal with it anymore. Please help!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Taringa, Brisbane
    Posts
    56

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    Being a Whippet with an intense prey-drive you will probably find that she will behave like this around any small animal that she could potentially chase. The vocalisation and increasing intensity of her reactions to the presence of cats sounds like her way of expressing her anxiety over not being able to actually act out the behaviour she so desires to do (chase, catch, kill, etc.) Given that she is leashed, you have removed her ability to physically chase her quarry so the mental kick-back is a more instense reaction. On the other hand, her reaction to another small dog when leashed sounds like a fear reaction, which could potentially have been reinforced by your reaction to her behaviour (she senses your anxiety and feels like she has to protect you from the apparent threat - in her mind the other small dog is the threat as that would be the only changed stimulus that caused your behaviour to change, etc.) so she is acting defensively, as you have removed her ability to move away from the threat. Take away the flight response by leashing a dog and you heighten the likelihood of a fight response occurring instead. So it sounds like two seperate issues here. Talking one on one with a carefully-screened trainer sounds like your best option here. Make sure they don't condone the use of positive punishment in altering fear-based aggressive/defensive behaviour as this can only cause more problems! positive reinforcement and encouragement of a calm disposition in the situations that are causing her stress are my recommendation.

    bear in mind it is very, very hard to make comment in a constructive way without actually seeing her reactions and your response to them so take everything i said with a grain of salt, i could be totally wrong and barking up entirely the wrong tree. whatever happens, good luck!

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by shooshoo View Post
    Being a Whippet with an intense prey-drive you will probably find that she will behave like this around any small animal that she could potentially chase. The vocalisation and increasing intensity of her reactions to the presence of cats sounds like her way of expressing her anxiety over not being able to actually act out the behaviour she so desires to do (chase, catch, kill, etc.) Given that she is leashed, you have removed her ability to physically chase her quarry so the mental kick-back is a more instense reaction. On the other hand, her reaction to another small dog when leashed sounds like a fear reaction, which could potentially have been reinforced by your reaction to her behaviour (she senses your anxiety and feels like she has to protect you from the apparent threat - in her mind the other small dog is the threat as that would be the only changed stimulus that caused your behaviour to change, etc.) so she is acting defensively, as you have removed her ability to move away from the threat. Take away the flight response by leashing a dog and you heighten the likelihood of a fight response occurring instead. So it sounds like two seperate issues here. Talking one on one with a carefully-screened trainer sounds like your best option here. Make sure they don't condone the use of positive punishment in altering fear-based aggressive/defensive behaviour as this can only cause more problems! positive reinforcement and encouragement of a calm disposition in the situations that are causing her stress are my recommendation.

    bear in mind it is very, very hard to make comment in a constructive way without actually seeing her reactions and your response to them so take everything i said with a grain of salt, i could be totally wrong and barking up entirely the wrong tree. whatever happens, good luck!
    Thank you for the response!
    It sounds like that is exactly her problem, she almost searches for prey to chase when we are on a walk... her ears are upright her eyes are constantly scanning for any movement anywhere we go. Ive noticed if we see any other dogs she will mirror the way they act... if they are barking and trying to get to her she will do the same. Most of the larger dogs don't do this...although even when they do she seems to tolerate it more than smaller yappy dogs.

    We used to walk past a Collie that would sit out the front of its house alone with no lead or supervision but the dog was so calm and never left its lawn that eventually she wouldn't even look at it. I managed to walk her past a cat yesterday- my neighbors cat sits out in his garden and watches us go past... I tried really hard to stay relaxed and I think it worked because she didn't go after it... it was at the end of the walk so I think she was a little more worn out and not pulling me so I had no contact on the lead. Normally she is pulling me before we see the cat so there is no way for me to have a relaxed lead approaching the cats. We do have a lot of wandering dogs approach us, and we have found the only way to handle it is to let her 'meet' them (most of the time they run straight up to us giving us no choice anyway). Normally after she has had a sniff she will move on and look for the next thing.

    We seem to have this two steps forward one step back thing happen a lot which can be trying. I'm hoping a new environment means we can start fresh and introduce her slowly to some more 'rural' animals. I would like to have chickens one day but I'm not sure if she is ever trust worthy!

  4. #4

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    It sounds like she has a lot of energy to burn running and walking everyday is great but it might not be quite enough if she's digging up your backyard it could be a sign of boredom, does she have many toys and things to keep her occupied during the day?

  5. #5

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    I'm pretty sure she needs maybe as much exercise as a Kelpie or other working dog. :-(
    I came out last night and she had dug out the two inch gap in between the fence and our brick paving a wheelbarrow load of sand!!! How she got that much out I don't know... my neighbors small plants had been dragged from their side of the fence through to ours!!
    Yesterday I walked her and gave her a big bone to chew..
    We have three treat toys which I fill up every day before work and leave around which she likes but if she doesn't get to them early enough the ants do.
    We had to get the genius level toy because she was getting the treat out too quickly (she is very clever). I even use a pack on her with a can of beans on each side to see if she works harder and that seemed to slow her down but as soon as we get back she is still full of beans. Don't get me wrong she has her lying around moments! My staffy is happy with a walk around the block haha
    The hard part is that we are trying to sell our house and I am pregnant so everyday I come home exhausted and have to clean her mess and then walk her!

  6. #6

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    She has a huge PILE of normal toys... and we collect some larger sticks because she likes chewing the bark off them and also likes skinning tennis balls. Id love to play fetch with her on an oval but after a few goes she will get distracted and bolt off after something!
    She took off after a pack of kangaroos one day and was chasing them for half and hour- right on their tails- the only reason we could grab her is the kangaroos did a loop back past us and we yelled out at her and she stopped (or collapsed!) in a panting mess. It was quite scrubby and there are a lot of limestone rocks and very rough uneven ground so she cut up her pads a little and was completely stuffed :-( she looked very happy with herself!

  7. #7

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    She sounds like a real handful, my cattle dog doesn't even have that much energy. Hopefully moving to a more rural place will help settle her down.

    My staffy x used to chase kangaroos, until he cornered one and it grabbed hold of his head, the next time he saw one he hid behind a tree and barked at it. He had a similar problem with wombats but he's grown up a lot now, it took a while but hopefully yours will calm down as well.

    Congratulations on the pregnancy

  8. #8

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    haha that made me lol.... If only I could find some tough fuzzy animals to stand up to her!!
    She is about 4-5 years but I have heard it takes Bull Terriers a LOOOOOOOOOOOOONNG time to mature,
    I think its a very bad mix!! unless you want a pig hunter or something :-( she dug out the gap again this morning and I had to cry out of frustration!!! I just keep trying to hold on until we move!

    Thank-you! its our first :-)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    605

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    Don't give up!
    No one loves you like your dog does.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelpielover View Post
    Don't give up!
    Thanks!
    fortunately she is a wonderful cuddly dog that wants nothing more than to wrap her skinny legs around you and kiss your face she could cuddle forever and be quite happy. I took her to my mother in-laws place and they had cattle dog there that has a fixation on balls (Very severe- he will spend hours trying to get you to throw the ball and then you do he will never tire and you have to stop or he will collapse!)
    Anyway penny just wanted to play with him so she stole his ball and put it between her front paws and got down on her chest then bounced away hoping he would chase her.. poor thing- he was only interested in ball :-(

    I have an update on the fence fascination.... apparently it wasn't all for nothing because I found a dead mouse in the backyard two days ago when mysteriously the digging of sand had stopped!
    She was hunting a mouse the whole time- and listening at the fence then digging a little to and waiting to hear if it moved! she is way too clever.

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