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Q & A About Dog Family Time

Eric Bittman animals dog training dogs pets

Dear Adam,

I adopted a 1 year-old female dog about a year ago. I have 2 cats who grew up with dogs and like dogs. When my dog first arrived, the first few days she was subdued-- being in a new surrounding - but then she wanted to play rough with the cats... which didn't set too well with them.

The cats run and she chases when we try to have them all in the same room together when watching TV, etc. I've been keeping them separate with baby gates (the dog in the kitchen and the cats in family room) and don't let the dog over unless both cats are outside. The dog ends up spending too much time in the confines of the kitchen with this method.

Is there a way to teach her that we don't want her rough-housing with the cats so they can all be together in the same room when I am present? The e-collar sounds good but so expensive. Maybe a less costly solution? Thanks. Enjoyed the book!

Willie Mae & DeAnne

Dear Willie Mae & DeAnne:

When the cats run, they are triggering your dog's prey drive. This is instinctive. However, it is also natural for a dog to defer judgement to his pack leader.

What this means is that: You must act like the pack leader.

In other words, if you tell you dog to lay down, you must USE THE TECHNIQUES in the book (timing, consistency and motivation) to keep the dog in a down-stay.

I personally LOVE having cats around when I'm training. What could be better to proof your dog around?

Remember, your dog should stay down UNTIL you give him the "Take a break!" command. If he gets up to chase the cats, then you'll need to correct him back into the down position.

If he gets up again, it's a sure bet that your corrections lack motivation. (Correct more firmly. Make sure you're getting slack in the line. If the dog's body is moving when you correct him, then you're using muscle instead of technique... not good!)

You don't need an electronic collar. Just a $12 prong collar and a six foot leash.

Once you get your dog to hold a down-stay around cats using nothing more than proper timing, consistency and motivation, your friends will think you're a genius. Or the lost love child of Sigmund and Roy.

Now if you can just get those darn cats trained!

That's all for now, folks!
Adam



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