|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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