GO!

What on Earth does he want from her?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Tatonka

Walk until your- paws drop off
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 9:52am PST 
At the moment, my fiancee's parents dog is staying with us. He's an older dog, though they've only had him for about two years, and he came with many bad habits(stealing food, constant barking, occasional nipping, never listens, etc.) and they're fed up with his bad behavior. My fiancee's mother wants to get rid of him, but his father is convinced that Blue should just be put down, as he's old and with so many undesirable traits, he doesn't think Blue would be able to find a home. To keep this from happening, we're working on teaching him some better manners. Blue's progress is slow, but he's old, somewhere around 12, so we're trying to be patient. That's the backstory.
We recently rescued a cat, Tobi. The first day that she was here, she hid under the couch, and Blue tried to get under there with her. Understandable, she's a new addition to the household and he wanted to check her out. Tobi has been hiding in the basement for the past few weeks, and Blue doesn't like the stairs, so he's more-or-less left her alone. For the past two days, Tobi's seemed to find her courage and has been exploring more of the house. She was upstairs and finally met Blue nose-to-nose. While she was a little nervous at first, she came around eventually, even going up to Blue for a sniff. Blue sniffed back. And sniffed her. And sniffed her. And sniffed her. He now won't leave her alone. She eventually got tired of having him in her face, so she started running from him. Blue ignored her hisses and ended up trapping her in the bathroom, and Tobi, thoroughly fed up, swatted him on the nose. His response was to growl at her. We managed to drag him away from her(he's a big Weimeraner and wouldn't listen to us when we told him no- too focused on the cat) and Tobi has now taken to hiding downstairs again. Blue now paces at the top of the basement steps and barks at her if he sees her. This is not fair to her(It's cold down there!) but she's too annoyed by or scared of the dog to come back up. Blue has never acted this way with any other animal, not even cats. When he met my fiancee's parents' cat, he simply gave her a sniff and was done with it. Not even his first owner knows why he's harassing Tobi like this, and I'm at a loss. Does anyone know why he would be acting this way and any possible solutions to the problem? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
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Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 4:39pm PST 
Sometimes they get fixated on one animal. Maybe he knows the cat is afraid of him. I would try distracting him with really yummy treats and use the phrase "Leave It" when distracting him. For it to work, the treats have to be something he would die for. Good Luck!
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 23, '13 4:41pm PST 
Those all sound like normal puppy behaviors that continue into adulthood unless the dog receives consistent feedback that rewards better choices. It seems rather unthinkable to me that anyone would consider euthanizing him. I think it would be very instructive for people to see what your average "great dog" was like in puppyhood. For that matter, Smokey alternated between wailing banshee and snarling Tasmanian devil when I brought him home a few months ago. A lot of management, some training, and consistent feedback that rewards behaviors I like have changed things a lot. If you put nothing into your relationship with your dog, you get nothing back. But it is never too late- dogs live and die by conditioned association, and while starting earlier is certainly a lot easier and some behaviors die harder than others, I have no doubt he could be making measurable progress within weeks and well on his way to being a great dog within months. I know it's hard for older dogs to find homes, and I hope someone takes a chance on him.

It's hard for me to say what's going on with the cat, without being there. I'd be concerned about prey drive, but you say that he doesn't normally seem to view cats as prey, that they went nose to nose, and that he growled, which seems more like dog-dog communication. The stalking sounds a bit predatory, but dogs can also act magnetically drawn to other dogs they've had issues with, so it may just be a general beef. With most dogs, I can see some clearly different behavior that differentiates prey drive. Smokey has a distinctive high pitched squeal/whine that sounds quite different from barking or his normal whine, and will stand upright on two legs and hop. Many dogs freeze for a second and then bolt toward the other animal. Have you seen other dog-dog communication directed at the cat, like playbowing, lip licking, tongue flicks, or yawning? That would be a good sign. If your best guess is that it might be prey drive, I'd keep them separated. If not, I would be inclined to let them interact some more after a cooling off period, provided that you supervise, step in if injury looks likely, and reward the dog for redirecting to you when the cat asks for space. In any case, I'd remove the dog to a crate or close him in a bathroom and let the cat come upstairs and relax for awhile. Piling stress on top of stress does no one any good.
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Tatonka

Walk until your- paws drop off
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 10:13pm PST 
Kali- Thanks for the hint! It was very helpful. We got some Pup-peroni- Blue's absolute favorite. Tobi sneaked up to the main level of the house a day ago. It was a very brief visit- she hid behind the couch but poked her head out every few seconds. While Blue was definitely interested in the cat, his attention ultimately came back to me and the treats.
Smokey- That's exactly what all his bad habits are- puppy behaviors. His first owner admitted that she kinda just let him do absolutely anything he wanted, even letting him eat food from her plate. I knew that immediately after my fiancee's parents complained to me about him. What you said, "If you put nothing into your relationship with your dog, you get nothing back", that's exactly what I tried to tell them, that with some training he'd be an excellently behaved dog before they knew it. I was appalled when his father just kinda said Blue wasn't worth the work. That's exactly why we took him in- underneath all those puppy behaviors he's a great dog. He's made great progress with us so far. We were going to start with leash training, but to our delight, he already has excellent manners on a leash(That was extremely surprising, however-his first owner never took him for walks, and my fiancee's mother might have taken him once or twice ever). Blue also had a habit of getting overly excited when someone came through the front door. He would grab a shoe(we take them off at the door and keep them on a mat there) and when someone would try to take it from him he would run to his crate and chew it. The solution was very simple-whenever someone came in, we'd give him a Kong toy filled with peanut butter in place of the shoe. Within a week he no longer cared about stealing them. That showed us that he's willing and still able to learn, despite his old age. Honestly, if my fiancee's parents don't take him back, we'll probably end up keeping him. And for miss Tobi- I don't really think it's prey drive. As I said, he's never been this way with a cat before, and he's been around quite a few. The dog-dog communication sounds like more what it would be. The second he saw her, he stared at her, and his tail didn't stop wagging until she swatted him. It might possibly be that he's expecting her to be like Bandit, our last cat. He was rather dog-like and would even play with Blue after given the typical cues. At this point, I think we're going to cross our fingers and take things slow.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 3:01pm PST 
That's wonderful to hear. I am so glad you're working with him and considering taking him in!!

If he has had a dogish cat for a playmate, that might explain his seemingly mixed behavior perfectly, since dog play is basically predator/prey with inhibited bites. I think that's really good news, in terms of teaching him not to do it. Make sure to reward for looking at the cat and then walking away, responding to its distance increasing signals, etc big grin
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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 9:23pm PST 
I'd also maybe try to get Tobi a condo or something she can get some height on and feel safe with. I know that I invested in some Feliway prior to a new foster coming in- it's that relaxing cat hormone, and it works wonders in helping to soothe frayed nerves and help her to ease into the transition. I think Smokey hit it on the head- he wants to play, and she doesn't welcome it. Now you just need to teach him that you're more interesting and important than she is.
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