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Thread: What should I do? Dog not cat safe

  1. #1

    Default What should I do? Dog not cat safe

    Last year I was given a fourteen year old Maltese/Jack Russell and was told that she was cat safe. The person who gave me this dog is a former neighbour whom has been an acquaintance for many years. I took this dog because the former owner has a long term problem with mental illness and a boyfriend who drinks.

    It was us or be put down and as I foolishly believed the description that I was given, I accepted her. Her name is Blossom. Blossom is most definitely not cat safe and is in fact quite aggressive with them. She also bites people and has bitten myself, my adult daughter and husband. She has also attacked my other dog, a ten year old Jack Russell multiple times. He keeps forgiving her.

    The cats don't and avoid her. At the moment she confined to the kitchen and has supervised stints in the backyard. She is a determined escape artist and my current fencing is a bit dodgy. The kitchen also has the benefit of being tiled as Blossom has accidents in the house. She now has a puppy training tray and that is a big help. I don't think that finding her another home is an option.

    We are moving in the next couple of months and the next house will have better fencing. As she was formerly an outside dog, would it be ethical to have her live outside again? I worry about this as all the other animals are indoor pets and she would be by herself. Or should I bite the bullet and have her put down. I don't want to do this. Advice will be keenly appreciated.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 05-19-2015 at 11:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    These rescues have small dogs available - they might not be able to take your dog right now but they should be able to provide advice on training her to be a nicer pet. Life could not have been easy for her in her previous home.

    The animal rehoming service

    Jack Russell Rescue

    Victorian Dog Rescue
    Victorian Dog Rescue and Resource Group Inc in Melbourne, Victoria

    Usually the first thing to do with an extremely grumpy dog is get her checked by a vet (warn them to pad up), to make sure she hasn't got any pain in the joints or painful injuries as most dogs in pain will lash out for no obvious reason. If she was kicked around by her former owners there might be good reason for her behaviour.

    After that, I would try crate training her, teaching her to love being in a crate, ie use yummy food treats to reward her for being in the crate, feed her in there and use it and maybe a play pen to restrict her access to trouble.
    Dog Exercise & Play Pens for Dog in Australia |
    and a nice soft sided crate/cubby/den - as long as she's not likely to rip it to pieces. If you need to transport her in a crate (cos it's safer) get one of the hard sided plastic ones. You can tie the gate open when you're using it as a den.
    VEBO Collapsible Fabric Pet Carrier Crate (7 sizes)| Vebo Pets Supplies
    how to crate train so a dog loves the crate:

    If she is an escape artist, I would not let her off lead in the back yard. My dog when she's injured - gets the back yard on lead only. So a dog will cope. Make sure you also take her for short walks outside around the block so you tire her brain out with new sights and smells on a regular basis.

    I think most of her problems - being nasty with people and other critters comes from being left alone in the back yard (unsocialised). Dogs are not meant to be alone, and you're much more likely to be bitten by a dog that's treated like a back yard ornament than one that is included in family life and rewarded for good behaviour and prevented from doing bad behaviour (interrupt, substitute something else to do).

    You might want to put her on the "nothing in life is free" program which means "all good things come from the human".
    Dog Training: Nothing in Life is Free : The Humane Society of the United States

    Ie for a week or so - hand feed her the first part of her meal - use a spoon if it's gooey or she's snappy but help her understand where her food is coming from. If she gets grumpy, take the food away (wear rigger gloves or wrap a towel around your hand if you have to - if she grabs you - hold your hand very still - ripping your hand away makes the bite worse). Move slowly and deliberately. Don't leave food out for her (no free feeding), make her work for every bit of it. Be careful not to "reward" any grumpy behaviour (no treat/food for that - oops). She probably just wants space, just hold still until she is calm, not growling and then give her the space she wants (step away).

    You might want to make your first "trick" be the "collar grab" ie if she lets you put your hand near her collar or touch it, she gets a treat/bit of dinner. So hopefully after a week or so of this game - she will look forward to one hand reaching for her collar while the other feeds her a treat...

    At this point it will really help if you have trained her to go in the crate, so when she's stressed she has a safe place to go to calm down. Use going in the crate as something she does to get some of her meal.

    Pay attention to all the things that trigger biting and if you share here - we can suggest ways to train better behaviours in place. What ever you do - don't yell at her or hit her. That will only make her more defensive and aggressive. Most dogs learn really quickly to be rough when you're rough and gentle when you're gentle. The more gentle you can be the better the dog will be. And you need to show that biting doesn't work - ie the dog does not get what it wants by biting, it gets what it wants by being calm, holding a nice sit, showing good manners. Try to catch her doing what you want and reward that.

    It is possible to find her another home - there are lots of people willing to take on a small dog with special needs. Ask one of the rescues for advice but you definitely want to be up front about her difficulties. Don't let anyone with cats or children take her.

    Also the RSPCA will help someone with mental health problems in a crisis. Ie board their dog for free. And they might be able to provide advice too.

    One of the rescues might be able to help you out with a loan of a suitable crate and pen too.

    Good luck with her and do keep us updated.

  3. #3


    "Good luck with her and do keep us updated"

    Thank you for your excellent reply. Had a much longer answer written but my log in timed out.

    Have owned Blossom for almost a year and am pleased to say that the biting of people seems to be a thing of the past. She has no association with children. So I don't know how she is with them, but I suspect that she would find them scary. I will definitely teach her that it is okay for me to grab her collar. At the moment my method to stop attacks on other animals is to pick one of them up. I scoop up whoever is closest and remove them. Handled gently and confidently, she is quite good. The dog groomer had no problems with her at all. That said, people are always warned. We do have hard plastic pet transport crates.

    Will definitely get a crate and do the crate training. I think I need to get more inventive about how I keep her away from the cats.
    Last edited by Kitty; 05-19-2015 at 04:09 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Kitty

    good to know you've got the people biting thing largely sorted.

    So it's now mostly about getting her to leave the cats alone?

    I think it would be 90% about prevention - preventing any opportunity to interact in an inappropriate way with the cat, and any sign of inappropriateness - way before the growling - you know that intent stare they do... then off to the play pen for a bit. Or distract with a quick game of chase the toy. And I would be having her on lead in the house when the cats are around by way of a training opportunity - reward calm behaviour with pats and praise and attention (some dogs you can reward with treats but not mine).

    You might need someone like Nekhbet to help with your timing and observational skills on this one. It's hard to tell you how to know when to do what when I can't see. Not that my dog is all that great with cats. she's reasonably good - if for the first day or so of meeting a new one (eg staying at a friends house - she does not get the opportunity to chase it or bark at it. Ie barking means crate/car time. But if she can get the cat to run - it's game over. She doesn't hurt the cat she just barks at it until it runs. Not good.

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