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How I got my Shiba to be friends with cats
  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    Disclaimer: this worked for me. It might not work for you. This is only information on how I got this to work.
    Do not just copy my strategy. You are responsible for your pets safety! A shiba can kill a cat! And a cat can really mess up a shiba to!

    I got my Yuki as a rescue dog when he was 6. When you have a puppy, it think it would be rather easy to get him to be friends with the local housecat. I have no experience with that.

    It also depends on the cat(s). If they are kittens themselves they wont mind growing up with a dog, I guess.
    If they had very negative experiences with dogs in general, you might have to overcome a lot of anxiety with the cat, which can be a stressful affair, since you also have to calm the dog down at the same time. Help from another person could be handy (so one can calm the cat, while you calm your dog).

    Since Shiba's like to hunt small animals, I was not very surprised when the rescue dog I got reacted to cats as if they where prey, trying to run to them to get them, barking. He violently chased away the neighbors cat from the garden. We had to install a fence to keep him from chasing the cat.

    First thing I had to do, as Yuki was a rescue dog, was establish dominance. At first, he was trying to be the group leader. That was why he had to be rescued in the first place: biting his owners. He did try to bite me and my girlfriend. But we did not back down. We took control. Established dominance, in a passive way (not violent!).

    For example, when Yuki was outside, and got sight of the neighbors cat, he would rush to the fence and start barking at her. I would then position myself between him and the fence, and told him to sit. If he would not listen, I would push his butt down. I would ask 'paw', and or 'down', so he lies down.

    I would do this every time he would bark at the cat. After a while, when I saw him get up to rush to the fence, I would only have to stand up as well for him to understand that he had to sit down and be calm and not hunt the cat.

    I also teached him that, by sitting and being calm, and 'pointing' to the cat, would earn him a treat. That was all the motivation he needed, for not attacking street cats and the neighbors cat.

    Now, I also live with two cats (he was staying with my girlfriend mostly who lives around the corner). The first time I got him into my house, it was mayhem. My cats where freaking out, Yuki was barking all over the place, totally excited (as it was the first time he was allowed in my house). I kept him on the leash and only let him in the hall for 30 seconds.

    That did not went very well. A few days later, I tried again. Now, I made sure I first did a fairly long walk, so Yuki would be not as energetic as he can be, and before I went in the house, I made him sit and relax first. Open the door: he gets excited, I sit him down, and wait a minute. When I open the door to the living room, my cats are on high places. Backs and tails raised in fear. Yuki sees the cats, and tries to hunt them. I physically stand before him to not allow him in. Sit. Relax. Give paw. Down. Good boy. Treat. Wait a minute. Observe eachother. Talk soothing voice. I step in the living room, close the door to the hallway (with Yuki still there), and attent my cats. Calm them, stroke them. Give them a treat.

    Mainly, I am trying to attach 'getting treats' with 'meeting eachother'.

    I open the door to the hallway. Yuki is very energetic, wants to storm in. I stop him. Sit. Relax. Down. treat. Good boy. Out again. Some running to release energy.

    I practice this a couple of times. I also swap odor. Stroke Yuki, go to a cat, let them smell the dog, stroke the cats, let Yuki smell that. When the cats are on high places, I walk with Yuki in the house. He still wants to get the cats, but holds back under my control.

    At first I had to separate them totally, with the crack of a door open occasionally as the maximum exposure.

    Then slowly introduce more and more exposure. The key is to be always in control. Cats will very, very slowly gain trust, if nothing bad happens. If the dog strikes out at a cat, the cat will learn not to trust the dog AT ALL. So you should always be in control at first, and NEVER leave them alone, as one bad experience can ruin your training.

    Dangerous moments are, for example, when the cat-flap flaps, Yuki jumps up to investigate. I made sure my cats could always leave and enter the house without getting harassed by Yuki. That meant, at first, I had to jump up and hurry myself between the dog and the catflap. Also, when Yuki is sleeping, and a cat wanders by, and he wakes up, alarmed, barks, you HAVE to stop him attacking the cat at such moments. You always have to keep an eye on where your cats are, where your dog is.

    Only after weeks did he not react to them anymore. He now totally ignores them basically. Four months later.
    He is now totally cool with cats. We visited a house with a cat an a rabbit running around. He sniffed them as if they were some strange kind of dogs. He understands now that (my) cats are not prey, but part of my family.

    I not only trained Yuki, I also trained my cats. When Yuki was sleeping on my bed, for example, I would take a cat, calm it, and walk into the room where the dog was. At first, that was a major issue for one of my cats. He did not trust the dog one bit. I would first walk him in. He would stress out, and want to flee. I would hold him, and calm him. After a minute, leave. Few days later, try again. Now, put him on a table in the same room. Calm both Yuki and the cat. Swap odor. First a few minutes. Later, a full hour. The third time they would both sleep at the same time in the same room.

    Now, that works all right. But, when the cats move, Yuki still tends to run after them. I physically stop him every time.

    My female cat has a place where only cats can go: I barred the entrance for larger animals. She sleeps there. The entrance has a curtain, so she can peek into the room, where Yuki is. When they see eachother, at first she would hiss. But not back down. I would sit Yuki down in front of her entrance, so she could see him. And teach Yuki at the same time it is more rewarding to pay attention to me as it is to pay attention to the cat. I made this a daily routine. Yuki would show my female cats all his tricks, and then they would all get breakfast.

    Creating safe spaces for your cats is essential. You DONT want them to basically run away. At first they where not happy at all with the dog. They would leave the house. And cry. You have to very carefully draw them in again. And make pretty damn sure the dog does not attack them. I had to put Yuki into a separate room at first to get them in. But he does not liked being locked up (offcourse).

    At first it feels like juggling three balls with two hands. Calm cat. Calm dog. Calm other cat. Put dog in room. Let cat in. Put cat in room. Let dog out. Etc. After a while it goes better. The animals get to know the routine.

    It is now six months or so since I got Yuki, and 4 months of training with my cats, and they are now completely used to each-other. Not 'friends' as in cuddly. But they respect each-other, and walk passed by each-other as if it is perfectly normal.

    I am trying to walk them each morning as a pack, walking around the house.

    I now dare to leave them alone for hours. Sometimes in the morning my male cat and Yuki work together to wake me up. One day, my male cat tapped me on the shoulders, followed a minute later by a lick from Yuki, and when I opened my eyes, they where both staring happy at me: "Hurry up, human, time for breakfast!!"

  • BasBas
    Posts: 17
    So, it might not work with, for example, cats that have been bitten by dogs, it would be very, very difficult to gain trust with such a cat. Or, when a dog has been allowed to basically hunt cats, it would be no small task to un-learn that.

    Also, you have to be in control of the dog. Getting some rescue dog that does not accept you as their leader (yet) and trying to train such a dog with cats, is pointless. You have to be in charge of the dog first, before you introduce them to cats, or you wont be able to control the situation.

    One crucial advice: listen to your pets. When they first meet eachother in a room without human supervision, they make noises. Cats hiss in fear. Or make a whining noise. The dog could bark once to alert you of the predicament he is in. You should not ignore these signals! When you hear your cat is in fear, or your dog is alarmed, go into the same room, sit down, and relax the situation: immediately.

    Failing to do that can easily lead to escalation! Doing it just a few times will teach your pets what to do when they meet eachother; relax.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8584
    @Bas - There are already multiple threads on Shibas and cats. Since this is a duplicate topic, I am going to go ahead and close this thread. Feel free to continue the conversation in one of the existing threads.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
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