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 Introducing New Dog to Cats

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Karu4Link
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PostSubject: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:07 pm

Okay, so I've searched and read several topics on here about this, and the main thing I have taken away from it was that it IS possible to have huskies and cats living together in harmony, but that it has to be done very carefully. I have two friends in other states who both have huskies and cats living together, and they seem to think it won't be a problem, but I know it will depend on the dog. I also read that the earlier in the dog's life they are introduced the better, but has anyone had success with integrating an older dog into the mix (older meaning 4-6 months old)?

So far we have kept Gaia and the cats in separate rooms, and rotated them at night. During the day while we are at work, we let the cats roam the house, and have Gaia in our sunroom (basically a large enclosed patio). When we get home, we put the cats in our bedroom, and take Gaia for a long walk/run, then give her the run of the house and play with her until we go to bed, when we put her back in the sunroom/crate with her toys. Then we let the cats out into the house again. We figure this will allow the animals to smell each other in the rooms and maybe get used to the scent.

We have a baby gate with a cat door that we are going to put in between the only doorway separating the living room from the back of the house, and are planning to eventually introduce the cats to Gaia with her on a leash, and the cats on the other side of the baby gate from her. My only question, is how long should I wait to do so? So far Stormy (our male cat) has seen Gaia on the other side of the glass front door, and also the glass door to the sunroom when we brought her home for the first time, and expressed curiosity mixed with nervousness.

When Gaia saw him watching her through the glass door leading to the sunroom, she tossed her head and whined, and wiggled her paws around like she wanted to play, and the sudden movement made Stormy hiss and back away slightly. Freya, our other cat, sat way back on a ledge watching from a distance. Both cats have been very wary and are acting slightly skittish when they are sniffing around in the living room. They also have not been as cuddly as they used to be.

Any input would be appreciated. We love all of our furbabies and we want them to get along! We don't want to botch the introduction, or end up with any of them injured. Thanks!
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MiyasMomma
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:45 pm

We introduced Miya to our then 12.5 year old Siamese when Miya was about 3 months old. So not far off from where Gaia is. We did slow introductions to begin with, having Miya under control and Kitana having free reign. We did this every couple of days for about a month. Then we started Miya and Kitana having free reign with our supervision. Kitana face planted a few times and scared the bejesus out of Miya, which pretty much settled her. When Miya was 11 months old is when we all started living together. We were building a house, so it wasn't feasible until then. We then started holding Kitana, and expressing to Miya that she was "mine", in fact that is how we trained her to not destroy our bed, couch and other objects, by taking her to these items and let her smell those items and at the same time said "mine". She has not attempted to eat couch, bed or Kitana. Kitana is now 14.5 years old, and she pretty much stays away from Miya, but I can sit on the couch and have one on each side of me, so inches apart with no problems. Cats are funny creatures, and will put a dog in it's place, I really believe a dog can't catch a cat anyways, cat's claws are sharp so they can protect themselves, they can get higher up from a dog, and lastly the prey drive kicks in when the chase is on, if a cat stands its ground, I really don't fear for a cat's life, now the dog on the other hand can get pretty messed up from a cat, lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:52 pm

Good to know, thanks! I guess we'll just take it one day at a time. Luckily our cats have a high up perch that leads to a random ledge in our living room (we have vaulted ceilings so it's pretty high up). They tend to hide there when they feel stressed, or sometimes just for the heck of it. I'm hoping that, combined with the baby gate might work well.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:48 am

The sooner you do it the better. As Gaia's confidence grows, along with her prey drive developing it will get harder and harder. The separation only serves to freak out the cats, and intensify Gaia's curiosity and interest in the cats. She is not too old to be introduced, but your window is closing.

Essentially, at that age, I taught Dizzy than any focus on the cats was bad. The predatory sequence is eye, stalk, chase, grab-bite, kill-bite, dissect and consume. So a curious puppy watching a cat, or walking over to sniff them may seem cute, but that has potential to develop into a very bad situation down the road. So, when Dizzy was a puppy, if he looked at the cat I told him "off." That is essentially my command for stop focusing on, chewing on, looking at, or thinking about whatever at the moment. If he didn't listen he got a time out. I also let each cat scratch him and draw blood at a young age, and enforced 'right of way.' For example, if they meet in the hall, Dizzy yields to the cats. He has never been allowed to chase, again because of the chase-bite-kill sequence. Most cats train dogs on their own, but you have to always support the cats, and never let Gaia chase them.

Some owners allow them to play and chase, which may work for some, but I'm just not comfortable doing that. I don't want his drive triggered by a chase. Once that predatory instinct takes over, you can't blame the dog for hurting or killing a small animal. Dizzy and a boxer friend of his chased and killed a squirrel a few weeks ago, and it was sobering to say the least. Don't continue to separate them, but set the house rules and be strict about them.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:56 am

And like it or not, dogs can, will, and have killed many cats, especially huskies. Only a couple of weeks ago a dog Dizzy plays with caught and killed a feral cat in the neighborhood park. The cat did do some damage, but in the end, the 80 lb hunting dog won. You may think of Gaia as your 'furbaby' but they are predators and carnivores, and you have to respect that essential part of their nature.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:57 am

@wpskier222 wrote:
The sooner you do it the better. As Gaia's confidence grows, along with her prey drive developing it will get harder and harder. The separation only serves to freak out the cats, and intensify Gaia's curiosity and interest in the cats. She is not too old to be introduced, but your window is closing. Don't continue to separate them, but set the house rules and be strict about them.

Good to know, thank you. I will try to introduce them tonight. Hopefully it goes well.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:02 pm

@wpskier222 wrote:
And like it or not, dogs can, will, and have killed many cats, especially huskies. Only a couple of weeks ago a dog Dizzy plays with caught and killed a feral cat in the neighborhood park. The cat did do some damage, but in the end, the 80 lb hunting dog won. You may think of Gaia as your 'furbaby' but they are predators and carnivores, and you have to respect that essential part of their nature.
We definitely are aware of this, and will never, ever leave them alone together. But we still would like to try and at least get the three to respect each other as much as possible. We don't expect them to become best buddies or anything, but as long as they can tolerate each other and keep to themselves we will be happy with that.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:11 pm

Yep, that was my goal as well, and I actually do trust Dizzy alone with them. We leave all three of them out and loose in the apartment when we're gone, but the longest that has happened has only been about 4-5 hours. He totally defers to them and won't even make eye contact. If one walks right in front of him, he might try to sniff their butt, but if they hiss, his ears go back, his head goes down and he walks away. He totally respects them.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:20 pm

We will probably do the introductions when we get home tonight. Probably will be best to have her leashed and behind the baby gate at first since she isn't fully trained yet. We've been teaching her "leave it" (similar to your "off") and "drop it", and she obeys sometimes but not others. Do you think that it would be okay to introduce them in small doses so to speak? As in, bring the cats out during Gaia's training sessions tonight and work on the "leave it" command, and then put the cats back in the bedroom after the training sessions, then rinse and repeat over a few days? I figure maybe that would help them adjust to each other until Gaia has a good handle on "leave it", and then we could let the cats roam free. Or do you think we should just let them out permanently and keep her on a leash until she's mastered "leave it"?
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:34 pm

I would go with the second option, mostly because it will constant reinforce her respect for the cats, and I honestly think it's better to stick to as close to a routine as you ultimately want to have. Meaning, unless you want to juggle room swapping in the future, I'd avoid it now. Smile I think it will be fine, I way over-stressed about it, but I'm glad I was strict with the rules when he was little.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:36 pm

Also, you can gradually phase the leash out as things progress, you can leave it on, but let her drag it around. That way you can control a situation if it gets out of hand, but you don't have to completely restrict her freedom. Also, let the cats smack her, they will probably do most of the training for you, you just have to teach her the cats are always right lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:40 pm

Haha, okay! Excellent advice. Thanks so much!
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:00 pm

Jen explained the chase way better than myself. The chasing is what makes a husky turn into predator. And I totally agree the sooner the better, and let the cats smack her around. Miya reacts to our cat as well as neighbors the same way as Dizzy, she wants to sniff, but as soon as kitty paw comes up or a hiss comes out she puts the ears down and walks away. Lastly Jen right on with routine, being consistent or repetitive, doing what you always do, makes the puppy aware of what's going on and how things are done, and more importantly understands the commands you give quicker.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:04 pm

Chasing does not turn huskies into predators. Huskies (and all dogs) ARE predators. It is their most basic drive.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:26 pm

Jen, perhaps I have seen things differently, if a cat is standing still Miya will not chase and will not go into "attack" mode, if a cat runs away, she is chasing and in "attack" mode, I can call her off. even with the neighbors cats, if they stand their ground she has no interest in "eating" them if they take off I'm not so sure she would not want to "eat them" if she could/would catch them. My childhood husky was never taught to leave a cat alone, it killed every animal it could catch, however she never thought to attack and kill our cats that were pets. So yes they are natural predators, but perhaps in my experience the 2 dogs knew what prey was and knew what pets were?

I want to add that the chase brings out the desire to be the predator they are, if there is no chase, then that basic drive is not there.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:42 pm

Right, because they were taught (inadvertently or on purpose) to suppress the predatory drive in relation to the other animals in the household. I think you are referring to the predatory sequence when you say 'chasing turns them into predators.' That might be the first step you see, but had the dog not been eyeing, or watching or 'on the hunt,' or had the drive not been bubbling underneath the outward calm appearance of the dog, the running/motion of the prey animal would not trigger a chase. Saying they are natural predators, but implying they can somehow turn these drives off and on is contradictory. There are other drives, social being a major drive, which is the path through which they accept other animals into 'the family,' but they aren't sometimes predators, and sometimes not.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:48 pm

@MiyasMomma wrote:
Jen, perhaps I have seen things differently, if a cat is standing still Miya will not chase and will not go into "attack" mode, if a cat runs away, she is chasing and in "attack" mode, I can call her off. even with the neighbors cats, if they stand their ground she has no interest in "eating" them if they take off I'm not so sure she would not want to "eat them" if she could/would catch them. My childhood husky was never taught to leave a cat alone, it killed every animal it could catch, however she never thought to attack and kill our cats that were pets. So yes they are natural predators, but perhaps in my experience the 2 dogs knew what prey was and knew what pets were?

I want to add that the chase brings out the desire to be the predator they are, if there is no chase, then that basic drive is not there.

So you're saying there is a difference between being a predator by nature and having a prey drive? They can turn their drive off and on by choice? If they 'decide' to chase they are a predator, and if they 'decide' not to they are not? Or if a prey animal 'decides' not to run, the dog isn't a predator? What if a squirrel just stood still and a dog stalks and runs up to it and it doesn't run? Does the dog then just decide it's not prey, so it shouldn't kill it? If the drive is absent unless a dog is chasing what causes the drive to chase moving object in the first place?
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:52 pm

@MiyasMomma wrote:
Jen, perhaps I have seen things differently, if a cat is standing still Miya will not chase and will not go into "attack" mode, if a cat runs away, she is chasing and in "attack" mode, I can call her off. even with the neighbors cats, if they stand their ground she has no interest in "eating" them if they take off I'm not so sure she would not want to "eat them" if she could/would catch them. My childhood husky was never taught to leave a cat alone, it killed every animal it could catch, however she never thought to attack and kill our cats that were pets. So yes they are natural predators, but perhaps in my experience the 2 dogs knew what prey was and knew what pets were?

I want to add that the chase brings out the desire to be the predator they are, if there is no chase, then that basic drive is not there.


Um ok Renee, I'm not sure I agree with you on all this. The chasing isnt the problem. Prey drive is what it is in some dogs its stronger than others, its not an issue of chase in my opinion. My dogs were introduced to the cats RIGHT away and we reinforced immediately the leave it command when they nosed them, or they got smacked by the cat and we let it happen.
About the bolded sentence. If the dog was really in "attack mode" you wouldn't be able to call her off. No matter how good your recall with her is. My dogs would chase my cat up and down the hall, Tika was playing with him, they even chase the last cat into the basement, but when they corner her, they dont kill her, they are trying to play, the cat is just afraid. A dog with a higher prey drive then my two would have tried to hurt the cat.

And yes a dog can absolutely catch and kill a cat. Many forum members have had it happen with their dogs.

Finally, not sure claiming the cat as Mine is the best training method. If you want the dog to accept and ignore the cat, socialise them. You'll figure out soon if they will mix and can adjust the circumstances as you go to let them get to know eachother. Do NOT hold the cat while this is happening, the cat might feel trapped and its your skin, leave her an escape route where the dog cant follow. We had 3 cats when we brought Tika home. 2 accepted her and played with her, the other moved into the basement. Claiming the cat as Mine so she wont attack or hurt it just sounds ridiculous.


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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:03 pm

@Kellyb wrote:
About the bolded sentence. If the dog was really in "attack mode" you wouldn't be able to call her off. No matter how good your recall with her is.

Agreed. When Dizzy and Bella killed the squirrel, I had his e-collar on, and hit the panic button, which honestly brought me to my knees when I tried it on myself, felt like an effing stun gun, and Diz did not even feel it. Not even a flinch.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:28 pm

Maybe it's because those of us who live in rural areas see more true prey drive than our urban cousins, I have to say that I find this discussion "interesting".
First, from wikipedia "Prey Drive"
Quote :
In all predators the prey drive follows an inevitable sequence: Search (orient, eye); Stalk, chase; Bite (grab-bite, kill-bite); dissect, consume.[2][3] In wolves, the prey drive is complete and balanced since it utilises the whole range from search to kill and finally consumes the prey in order to survive.[3]
references:
[2]Coppinger, Raymond (2001). Dogs, A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution. University of Chicago Press. p. 116.
[3] article, "The Canine Prey Drive Instinct," Paul Lindley.
When I see a wolf or coyote setting on a hill eying something in the scrub, I'm seeing the first steps in "prey drive" - he's intent on one thing, getting lunch; with luck his stalk will result in a well deserved meal.
I think - notice, this is IMHO - that what we often see in our dogs *is not* true prey drive but "play gone horribly wrong". Think of the situation where you throw a teddy and the dog chases it, "kills it" and then shreds it - that is completely play (and we find that amusing?) The dog is often quite content to set there as we have the object in hand and doesn't "chase" until it's thrown.
Oh, certes we have dogs who do indeed hunt, I had one who ate more meals on the desert than she ever did at home and I could watch her stalk and kill her prey. Never once did I see her "kill" in play.

One other comment: from time to time here, I see people make absolute statements. I have no problem with "dog by their very nature are predators". Canids are the very definition of predator (giving grace to the feline family) But to suggest that all dogs are predatorial, imo, begs the issue. Border Collies (as well as other shepherding dogs) use a modified prey drive to control their charges. I quite probably out of place, but I'd ask that you rethink your statements when your reply is an absolute.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:44 pm

Just because I live in the city does not mean I have never lived in a rural area, nor does it mean that I have never seen a wild predator. Now you are making assumptions about me. Chasing stuffed animals and toys, is prey drive. However an inanimate object is quite different to the warm, soft body of real prey, so there is not the same charge or attraction in relation to those objects, and obviously a dog does not attach the same significance to them, but they are still prey to some degree. Prey drive and play are closely related, they are not the same thing, but you can't say there in no prey drive involved in play. I would argue that play is a different expression of prey drive through positive social interaction.

As far as making absolute statements, I will make one more. Simply because a dog does not have to kill to survive does not mean they won't kill, because like it or not they are predators. Breed traits will have an influence on behavior, but they are still the same species. Yes, they are domesticated predators, so there is going to be a difference between a dog and a coyote and how they stalk and kill, however that doesn't mean the drive isn't there. If it wasn't there, a chase and pounce would not be triggered by a blowing leaf.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:02 pm

Indeed Jen, I think though we are giving a disservice to the op, by hijacking her thread. We all have differences of opinions, differences in how we train. I do not mean to assume that because you live in the city that how we view the dog has to be different. I had an uphill battle from day one with Miya, got her at 5 weeks, sold to me as a husky/wolf, living in the country. Living in the country introduces dogs to way more live and unlive(leaves) prey, than you in the city. I made no qualms in agreeing with my childhood husky, she was a down and out killing machine, I still do not understand why she left our pet cats alone but killed feral cats.

In all of this conversation it does boil down to beliefs and opinions and not fact and fiction, and this is where my feathers got ruffled. 1. Here we prefer clarity to agreement. Obviously not everyone is going to agree on a topic; here we prefer to talk out our differences in a respectful manner to ensure mutual understanding and respect. It's the number one forum rule. We can not get inside our dogs head, so therefore it is all conjecture and guesswork. Yes dogs are naturally predators, but I truly believe we can train them to know when and what they can kill and what not to.

I do have a very unique dog and we do have a unique relationship, I truly give out what works for me in hopes that it may work for someone else. To deem my way is all wrong and everybody elses way is right is not fair. It really should be somewhere in between, yes?
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:06 pm

Prey drive extends beyond the *animal hunts animal* manifestation.

There is an argument to be made that if there is a difference in the prey drive of urban verses rural Huskies, then it might both more repressed and rechanneled (by necessity just to live in the city) in the urban Husky. But to suggest it's less true or potent doesn't hold much water.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:12 pm

@MiyasMomma wrote:
I still do not understand why she left our pet cats alone but killed feral cats.

Training and socialization. Both are all about taking what is fundamentally there as nature and repackaging it in a way that suits our lives. -----good tie in to the domestication discussion last week.
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PostSubject: Re: Introducing New Dog to Cats   Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:21 pm

My internet is flaked out and did have a post right after Kelly. Yes Kelly, "mine" along with leave it has worked. Yes I have a bond with Miya that recall is superb. I have called Miya off of cats, roadrunners, skunks, rabbits, guinea hens, you name I have called her off. She has stopped the chase, which imho is the beginning of the predator coming out, on a cat and armadillo because they left our property. I am with her 24/7/365 since she was 5 weeks old. Miya is a different breed all her own. I have never seen a dog, let alone a husky, respond the way she does with me, her handler. My mother trained and worked a gsd kennel. I do know a thing or two about training. I am sorry if it seems unthinkable that Miya respects my personal items, and Miya will come back to me when called off of a chase and potential attack.

Jen, imho, the chase and kill with Dizzy and friend is because of the pack mentality, I know the training you have done, if it was Dizzy by himself I'm pretty confident you would have been able to call him off.

I will reiterate, if I had video to post up, you would be amazed at Miya the husky, my friend and neighbors are astounded at the discipline she has, it was done with positive reinforcement and praise, and mutual respect. I love this dog, and have never encountered a smarter dog. I can not explain why I have this dog, but she is cut form a different husky cloth. If I give a tip that bewilders, rather than say impossible, please ask how. Being scoffed at is not a respectful attitude. Iand I do try to be respectful to everyone here, even if I think they are totally wrong.

Jeff, my childhood husky was never trained to do more than sit, shake, roll over and smile, that dog was not trained for anything, but instinctively knew the difference between pet and feral.
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