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New Mama- worried about Husky and cats

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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 19, '12 3:36pm PST 
So I'm doing a trial adoption with a unique "low" energy people orientated Husky. I have two cats and the first couple of days she was obsessed with them, so we kept her on a leash and praised her whenever she laid down, relaxed, or stopped staring at them. Now she is to the point where even if she is off leash she is curious but will let me pick them up and take them to the other room without trying to get them. My cats don't particularily care for dogs but they will come downstairs and observe her and if she gets to close meow and hiss (which I haven't let her get close to them for more than a few seconds). I'm worried that if the cat did get her with their claws that she would go on the offensive and try to kill them. She still is pretty curious about them a lot less obsessed though. She also was attacked by a dog her size a couple of months ago and so is more responsive to aggressive displays of dogs her size would this translate into the cats if she got hurt? I don't plan on letting this happen but accidents do happen.
Do any of you experienced Husky mamas know how if there is a high chance she would react badly?
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Fritz

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 20, '12 8:42pm PST 
Some huskies are bad with cats, others are fine.

Fritz is a cat killer. He stares, freezes,and licks his lips when he see's a cat. He will try to go after the cat leash or not. I think you would see it if your dog has high prey drive, he isn't going to pretend to be okay with the cat to fool you into leaving them alone together.

Your description doesn't sound like high prey drive toward cats, but maybe not okay to leave alone with your cats when no one is home to intervene until you know the dog really well or maybe just be sure the dog is crated or otherwise contained if no one will be home.
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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 21, '12 10:56am PST 
Thanks for the advice. She doesn't seem to have a high prey drive. Such a weird Husky but pretty perfect for me.

She also got attacked a month ago by another Husky so now she is afraid of dogs her own size, which she remedies by growling/lunging/barking if she is on a leash. Any idea how to rehab her? Apparently before she was attacked she had no problem playing with and enjoying other dogs.
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Ember FDX

Go Go Devil- Bunnies!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 21, '12 12:49pm PST 
Is this dog coming from an aquantance, or a rescue? If she's coming out of a rescue, they should have resources to help you with these issues...

Dogs actually do have the cognative ability to pretend to be ok with cats until you leave. It's debatable whether they're doing it as a trick (although I have seen dogs set traps before, including Fox), but it's the same idea as the dog who leaves a roast thawing on the counter while you're in the living room watching tv, but the second you go out to get the mail they jump on the counter and steal it. No human present = no one to please and no immediate consequences.

It's also possible to manage a situation so well while you're there that a dog will just stop trying since they're never successful anyway. But when you leave, all bets are off.

What's far more likely to happen, at least at this point, is for her to not react to the cats because she has decided she likes your home. Since you obviously don't like her chasing the cats and she is on trial, she's on her best behavior. This is the 'rescue timeline' I'm always going on about. 2 weeks to feel ok, 4-6 to feel comfortable, 4 -6 months to feel truly at home - average. I expect behavior changes around all those points and I don't take any behavior for granted until we're well past them.

That doesn't mean she's going to turn into a cat killer one day, but it does make it difficult to guess how she'll be in your home long-term. To be honest, the things you mention in your post don't make me comfortable. There are a lot of degrees of prey drive. Vance is fine with cats unless they turn away from him and jump up. He'll actually prance around and playbow until that point. Then he goes for a grab. Fox is fine with stationary cats, especially if it's a cat she sees often, but any movement is an invite to chase. Ember will kill any cat at any time for any reason.

Obsessing is never a good thing, and that pushing just a little more and a little more almost always ends poorly. You're right - if the cat swipes at her, the pain could push her to kill it. Dogs do view cats and dogs differently, so her behavior toward dogs isn't necessarily indicative of her behavior toward cats in a specific sense. In general sense, though, if she always reacts to pain in other situations by aggressing, it's probably safe to assume she would react to pain caused by a cat by aggressing also (or vice versa).

So far it sounds like you're managing things well. I would go for weeks or even a couple months of limited, positive interaction before letting everyone loose together. You seem to know a lot about her background in other areas - has she just never been with cats at all before?

As to reactivity toward other dogs... She's afraid, so she's taking the "I'll get you before you can get me" angle. The first thing you need to do is find a positive trainer (preferably who specializes in aggression/reactivity). Then you need to decide exactly what your goal with her is. Do you actually want her to be able to happily interact with other dogs again? Or do you only need her to stop reacting violently while you're on a walk? Or something in between? And, since you're not committed to adopting her yet - is it ok if you can not fully fix her issues? It's a long road, rehabbing a fearful/reactive dog. What you need will determine the work you have to do. The trainer can help you assess your goals coupled with her behavior and come up with a game plan.
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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 21, '12 4:30pm PST 
Thank you so much for your response. The rescue doesn't know how much she was around cats, I'm assuming these are the first though. She is no longer obsessive about them. She lets them walk by and just watches and then ignores them even when they are in the same room. I don't plan on letting her alone with them for a very very long time though if ever. Her body language is one of play now, wagging tail, sniffing noses, she does try to rooroo at them to get them to play or maybe out of frustration. Either way I don't think I'm going to trust her with them alone or at night for a while and not unless the cats and her get along so well that they start cuddling when I'm there. I've been working on just letting her sniff them for a couple seconds and then recalling her, which she does respond to.

I don't know about taking her back as she is very bonded to me already and several people have told me it's mean to the dog. I have a trainer that may be able to give me more of an idea of if she can be rehabbed though. I just want to be able to take a walk without a strange dog who is off leash(I really wish only responsible in control people would have their dogs off leash) without seeming to try to kill them.
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Luna

I found my- forever home- -yippee !!
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 24, '12 4:47am PST 
Just my 2 cents - I rescued my husky from the desert and I think she had to find her own food for who knows how long. I accustomed her to our cat, Apollo by holding Apollo in my arms above her and letting Luna see that she was part of the "pack" and not a morsel for snack time. It's been 2 years now and no incidents. Luna still hunts the critters in our yard though and is very intense - in fact she looks cat-like when she is hunting.kittypuppy
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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 24, '12 10:58am PST 
Wow, really that works with the cats? I've been letting her go up and sniff them briefly and then calling her away. She seems to want to play with them now, and is avidly searching for them when we get home. Also when they hiss or mraw I'm calling her away. I'm hoping that this teaches her how to interact with them. Now when we go for a walk she sniffs them and moves on to the door. And will look at me after a few minutes for direction I think. Overall her body language with them is playful like she is meeting a weird chihuahua, wagging tail, talking to them, relaxed posture, etc.

I will try what you did as well too. Do you think what I'm doing is on the right track?
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Ember FDX

Go Go Devil- Bunnies!
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 30, '12 12:52pm PST 
I think you are on the right track. I tried to reply to this again last week, but I was having major issues posting anything on any part of Dogster.

I have no doubt that holding the cat may have helped Luna, but I wouldn't recommend it as a general method. For many dogs, having something above them actually triggers their prey drive. Many small dogs are injured over this - a large dog comes trotting over, the small dog owner panics and yanks their dog off the ground, so the large dog grabs for it. We don't pick up small dogs in daycare for the same reason - if the predatory drift is strong enough, it doesn't even matter that the dogs all know eachother.

Also, it only shows pack cohesiveness or ownership IF the dog in question is keyed in to the idea that things the owner holds are special to the owner. So while it may work on a dog like Vance, who has noticed that I carry my cell phone everywhere and give it loads of attention, so he will actually stand guard over it if I drop it on the dog daycare floor... Most dogs will not make that connection. Ember and Fox would fail on both points, and then their frustration would grow as I prevented them from actually getting to the cat.

What I wanted to say last week was never keep a dog out of guilt. You're doing a trial for a reason. Because while it's not easy to have to try out a few different homes, it's better than getting stuck with the first one that comes along, even if everyone is going to have to struggle to make it work for the next 10 years or so.

I did return a dog before Ember came along. She was small, so I thought I could handle her easily while I rehabbed her, keeping her hidden away when necessary. Instead, I found people constantly pushing themselves on her, even going in my room or my car and trying to stick fingers in her cage or open it to pet her. She was going to bite someone. And with all the pressure from all these people, I couldn't create a stable enough environment to rehab her. So I had to call it. In the long run, it worked out better for everyone. I got to rehab Ember instead, she loves Vance (returned dog didn't) and vice versa, all my friends kept their fingers and the dog was not euth'd for biting.

Anyway, it sounds like things are going well with the cats, so the reactivity is the bigger issue to be considered. It's a lot of work and management to rehab a fear-reactive dog. I wish I could give you time lines and success rates, but it's entirely dependent on each individual. Ember took a year and has made as full a recovery as I have ever seen... Usually now she only reacts if we're passing a dog who appears to be calm, but suddenly starts barking/lunging. Which to be honest, startles me quite a bit too. Have you spoken to or met with that trainer yet?
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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 30, '12 3:20pm PST 
The trainer I'm considering using went out of town, so instead I contacted the Husky rescue guy to see if he could assist. He helped immensely! He gave me some things I could do and I worked on my fear of her lunging which is always a major part of it. And I'm very happy to say that we went to the dog park yesterday and she did astoundingly better! Wagging tail, more relaxed/alert posture, running around like a goofball, terrorizing chihahuas (for some reason she loves the smaller dogs and it seems to be to play with them). Yes she did have some growling at first however we corrected it and I think her prognosis looks really good. I still prefer owners to not let their dog run up to her, and so far we have ran into more responsible owners. I feel more confident handling those situations now as well. I think I will be able to work with her and get her to a very good point. The Husky Rescue owner also said I'm free to call him if we have any problems and if the other trainer can't assist he knows several behaviorists/trainers that should.

Also another thing I found out she play growls, she'll be playing with her bone/ball and growl, and her talking is so low that if it's short it sounds similar to a growl.

Overall I love her personality and everything she's a great Husky. And yeah it's more tempting when I pick the cats up. She's doing extremely well with them, even gives them the right of way when they are in her path. We were considering letting one of them sleep in the room with us one night so we can see how they'd do. I don't think I will ever let them be out together alone though. Especially given she thinks the cats are going to steal her bone... sigh. She runs up and grabs it if the cats get near.
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Member Since
12/31/2011
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 30, '12 7:12pm PST 
Okay so of course just as I say that she's doing awesome she goes and bites a dachund. Can I tell you what happened? I have a feeling I was being a complete newbie.

We were walking at night around the apartment complex. And passed one with a dog in their yard. She got really wound up trying to get to it (the fences are all wood so she just heard the dog). Then I see a Dachsund owner coming up around the corner which Jazz can't see... She was still wound up but we had never had trouble with little dogs so I let them meet two seconds later she had the other dog in her jaws by the neck. And wouldn't let go. She didn't growl/shake, just held her. It took us like 3 minutes to pry her jaws apart. The Dachsund was unharmed that we could see... but damn. What was that? Prey drive? Fear? Is this common for Huskies? And most importantly does it sound like I'm a complete newbie and shouldn't own one of these dogs without a lot more experience??
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