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problem with cats
  • RachelRachel
    Posts: 8
    Hello fellow shiba owners!
    i've got a bad problem. I have a 7 month old, un-neutered, male shiba.
    he was brought up with cats since 8 weeks.
    He would always chase and play fight with my one cat, I discouraged it and crated him as a punishment.
    Lately he's gotten very aggressive towards the cat, i'm afraid the leave them togther! She snaps at the cats face. Bites if he thinks the cat has found food.
    Yesterday the cat was sleeping on the top on my sofa, and my shiba jumped up to bite her...
    I have to keep them separate now, but naturally I like to sit in the living room with both pets. My shiba won't keep his eyes off the cat...
    I tried to move my shiba away from the cat today and he tried to bite me instead!

    I really don't know what to do, it's stressing me out!
    Post edited by sunyata at 2011-09-21 10:42:08
  • JessJess
    Posts: 70
    We have this exact same problem every time we visit Ben's mom's house.... She has a 15 year old kitty named Bob and even though Kuma grew up around Bob (Ben and Kuma lived there during the summer when we first got Kuma because Ben was working there) Kuma has this.... obsession with the cat. ESPECIALLY around food.

    It's hard because we don't get to socialize him with other cats often, unless we go there..... Kuma sometimes has to be like.. held back while bob is getting food or attention. :(

    IF anyone has tips on how to train a Shiba to love cats again I'd LOVE to hear them too!
  • I think it depends on the cat. We have two female cats about 3-4 years old- Null and Void plus Zume. At first the cats were curious when she was a puppy, but as she grows one cat (Void) will just refuse to be anywhere near the dog because she'll get chased and she knows it. Null will tolerate Zume for a while, even taking some licks to the face as graciously as a cat can, but knows when to tell the dog to back off when Zume gets too nippy. Puppy is barely 18 weeks old so I'm hoping this is something that will end somewhat in adulthood, but who knows.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    You're best bet right now would be to give the cat a hiding place or two that is off limits and hard to get to for the pup. My cats are usually fed in a high place that none of the pups could reach them.

    Work on redirecting the pup to something other than the cat, like a chew toy or even a few pieces of cat food. Cat food in general is too rich for dogs so should not be fed to them on a regular basis, but it's ok to give a few pieces as treats.

    Work on the "leave it" command, starting first with getting them to leave treats and toys, and escalating to a stationary cat. Do not move too fast with this command, and if the pup doesn't listen while chasing the cat, stop saying the command and remove the dog by other means. If there is a risk of being bitten while using your hands to move the dog, try body blocking instead. Body blocking is basically using your body and movements to "push" the dog away without actually making contact with them. Stand between the pup and the cat and walk towards the pup, adjusting yourself to thwart any attempts of going around you. Think of yourself as a wall that he is not allowed to pass.

    Unless absolutely necessary, avoid picking up or carrying the cat. This will not only excited the pup even more, but he will attempt to jump on you to get at the cat (making it harder to control the situation). Also, this increases the chances of the cat accidentally hurting you in an attempt of self defense should the pup grab onto a body part. If you feel you must pick up the cat, be sure to grab the scruff with one hand while supporting the cats weight with the other(I know this sounds horrible, but it actually helps keep the cat limp and reduces struggling making it easier to control). Never carry a cat by the scruff, as this could cause major injury. Always support the weight of the cat with your other hand, leaving none of the weight to be supported by the scruff. Also, always keep an eye on the cat's tail and make sure it's tucked in, as unprotected tails makes for an easy grab by the dog.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    Seven months old is about the age that prey drive REALLY kicks in.

    This is typical Shiba behaviour, as they were originally bred as hunters of smaller game. (Cat = smaller game)

    You will probably need to keep them separated, especially when you are not home or not able to immediately intervene. You will need to give your cat her own space where your pup can not harass her. And you need to immediately intervene when the Shiba acts out towards the cat. Stalking, staring, chasing, attacking, etc. are all behaviours that need to be redirected as soon as it starts.

    After a lot of training, hopefully your Shiba will remember that the cat is a family pet and not prey.

    Hopefully someone with a little more cat/dog experience will be around shortly to give you some more specific pointers.

    Also, while the neutering will probably not help much with the prey drive, it is a good idea to get him neutered for health reasons if you are not planning to show your pup or breed him responsibly. < \public service announcement>

    ETA: Cross posted with Beth... She gave some great advice!
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
    Post edited by sunyata at 2011-01-28 15:58:38
  • RachelRachel
    Posts: 8
    Thank you for the advice.
    Keeping the 2 separate isn't an easy task. Mostly because my cat is quite the adventurer. So she'll crawl through an open window at any time, day or night after doing whatever cats do all day... I can't really shut any doors to prevent access to certain rooms (i have archways and sliding doors).
    Plus I don't know what I can do during the summer when both pets will be spending most of the time outside in the garden together...

    I have tried intervening, my shiba tries to attack my cat while i'm not around. When I do see this happening i'll shout 'NO!' and either crate him or give him a smack on the bum.
    I've been using the method since he was 8 weeks. The best it's done is made him be more sly about it.
    It's not the cat food he gets aggresive about either. It's things like; if the cat starts sniffing by a bin or if the cat sits in the kitchen while i'm cooking (I've never feed either pets while cooking)

    How would you recommend I 're-direct' my shiba? it kinda feels like i'd be rewarding him with toys for being aggressive...

    Thanks again
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
    @Rachel: Smacking your pup on the rear end could be enforcing the behaviour, rather than diverting it. Please check out some articles of positive reinforcement training.

    Also, maybe try doggie zen with your pup as well. This will help teach your dog self control. Which is incredibly important.

    Also, baby gates. They are a fairly inexpensive way to keep puppy and kitty separated when you can not 100% keep an eye on their interactions.

    As for re-directing the behavior, have you tried clicker training or any other positive reinforcement training? This is going to be where you would need to start. Teach your pup both the 'watch me' command and the 'leave it' command. If you see your pup starting to stalk or stare at kitty, re-direct by using one of these commands. When the pup obliges you, praise and treat. Repeat as necessary. If puppy ignores you, remove him from the situation. Once removed, do some training exercises with him, praise and treat. You will find that by repeating these processes, puppy will learn that leaving kitty alone results in good positive things happening. You need to make NOT chasing kitty more fun than chasing kitty. :)

    AND... puppy is not being aggressive. Puppy is doing what puppy does best. Having fun. He may also be resource guarding with the growling about the rubbish bin or the food being cooked in the kitchen. If that is the case and simple training is not working, you may need to call in a behaviourist to assess the situation.

    Good luck!
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
    Post edited by sunyata at 2011-01-28 19:30:02
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    When it comes to redirecting, you are not rewarding him for going after the cat but for breaking his focus of the cat and focusing on you instead. Part of this also relies on reading your dog and intervening before he "attacks". To give you an example, my Shiba Tetsu was not very fond of the new puppy. He showed this with lip curls, growling and snapping. The minute his lip started to curl, I would say "Let's go outside" and his mind would switch gears and he would run straight for the door. I'd tell him to sit, hook him up and take him out. He gets the reward of going outside not when he's thinking of attacking the puppy but when he's thinking of going out. It takes some time, but now he's associating the puppy with going out and when she is loose in his presence he runs straight for the door.

    When your pup starts to snarl/stalk the cat, grab his attention (say his name, make kissy sounds, squeak a squeaker toy) and the moment you get his attention reward him and get him to do something else. My Husky Tikaani loves to sit on the cat and lick her, but the minute I see his attention towards her I say "Tikaani, what's this" and start waving a treat or toy. I'll tell him to sit and start playing a game of tug or work on other obedience commands. He is learning that the cat is nowhere near as exciting as you, and each time it becomes easier and easier to break his attention on the cat.

    Edit: Agrees with what Casey said. Smacking on the butt and shouting will just exacerbate the situation and confuse the dog. This may be the reason why he had bit you, he knew it was coming (or had come) and was showing his dislike or stopping it before it happens.
    Post edited by Calia at 2011-01-28 19:36:47
  • We have three cats and two shibas. Everyone gets along fairly well, though most of the cats will steer clear of Lia, since she likes to play referee when they are playing and if she catches them when she is really hyper will mount them.

    When we got Annie we had two cats. Those two cats had been raised around dogs and had helped "raise" a lab puppy. So they were fairly confident around dogs, and weren't afraid to whack her if she got too mouthy or whatever. When Annie was a puppy all she really wanted to do was play with the cats, but they mostly were having none of that, though sometimes they would all chase each other around the house. When we brought Lia home when Annie was seven months old that all changed. For a few months both dogs only had eyes for each other and us, but eventually they started wanting to play with the cats again. Annie was always very gentle since she remember that a growling and hissing cat usually meant a hit with claws. Lia, since she hadn't really bothered the cats as a really little puppy didn't catch on as fast. Eventually we started leashing her for a bit, using a halti (no pull collar like a gentle leader) to get her to calm down. She hated the halti so she would pout. For a few years all we had to do was bring out the halti when she was misbehaving and she would stop chasing the cats.

    We eventually got two more cats (and one of the original cats was rehomed to live in an only cat home...but that is another story) as kittens. At first I didn't allow the kitten (we got the kittens two years apart) have access to the entire house while we weren't home, and thankfully the first kitten we brought home, Charlie, was a spitfire who while he liked playing with the dogs, he only really liked it on his terms. Doug was another story, but since he is now bigger than Lia we don't really worry too much about him. He may be dumb and a little skittish, but Lia actually has some respect for him for some reason (probably because he is so big, 26 pounds!).

    Our cats also have their own room that the dogs don't have access to. There is a little cat door in the wall to this room for their access, and their food and litter are set up in there (which helps keep the dogs from hunting for cat food and "tootsie rolls"). The dogs go through this room only when going out to the backyard and only supervised. So the cats have some control over a small area of the house. Currently Lia and Cole (the oldest cat) are curled up on the couch side by side sleeping.

    I really strongly suggest a space for your cat, if you have to use a baby gate to section off part of your house do it. It really helps with the chaos of owning both cats and dogs. Also, shibas (in my experience) do not respond well to punishment, especially physical punishment. We used the halti as a "punishment" and it worked well, but I wouldn't recommend it for every shiba, or every dog. It worked with Lia because she literally shuts down when we used it and we never used it longer than five or ten minutes at a time. I would never recommend hitting any dog.
    The picture is Annie as a baby and Cole sleeping together!
    Post edited by Morgaine at 2011-01-28 21:39:12
  • McYogiMcYogi
    Posts: 518
    3 Shibas, 2 cats here, all peacefully coexisting. I started with slow introductions using delicious food as a reward for ignoring the cats and listening to me. Now the dogs reckon "cat's are good because I get food when they're around." It also has a lot to do with the cat, some cats "slink" in a way that sets off a dogs prey drive, and the dog can't help but hunt it. If one of the cats run by too quickly our dogs will give chase, but the earlier training taught them to listen to us while the cats are around.

    Also: baby gates. We have 3, and the cats can jump them and the dogs can't. It's not going to win you any style awards, but it does a great job of giving the cats their own space (in our house it's the entire top floor and the office).

    Remember, using food to distract your dog doesn't mean you're rewarding him for his bad behavior... think about it like you're rewarding him for STOPPING the bad behavior and paying attention to you instead. Use that moment of focus to practice simple commands and you kill 2 birds with one stone.

    Happy training!

  • There's got to be a way to keep them separate, rather that is baby gates, or crating the Shiba or something (as you do), because if not, you're likely to end up with a dead or injured cat. Shibas are hunters, and now that your pup is heading into maturity, his breed instincts (hunting) are really coming out stronger. There was a great article on dogster about dog adolescence, about how that's when 1) they test us 2) breed characteristics and drive really show up.

    Can you make it through this and have them get along? Maybe. Obviously people here have cats and Shibas who coexist. It's possible. But right now, I 'm really struck by how you said he is more sly about going after the cat. That's worrisome, because what if you're not around to intervene? I wouldn't trust them alone together, not now, and not in the garden in the summer. Things could too easily go wrong.

    It may be, as others have said that,your pup thinks of the trash bin as his, and as other parts of the house as his, and thus is resource guarding. In this case, it might be best simply not to let them both be out when you're cooking, or something like that. Rewarding for good behavior with the cat will help, as will redirecting attention when he starts to get too interested. Teaching "leave it" also might help.

    Good luck, and do be careful.
  • To give you some reassurance, my puppy was a little obsessed with my cat, too. I often thought about how horrible I had made my cat's life by bringing home this dog! If the cat walked through the room, the puppy would chase after her and nip at her until she reached her destination and could jump out of his way. I often worried about how aggressively he approached her.

    He is now a year and half old. The behavior has reduced quite dramatically (age has helped a lot), and I no longer worry about leaving them alone together. There interactions are now limited to only minimal cat tormenting by the dog. He will go to the chair where she is sitting and bark at her or put his paw on her until she hisses and bats at him - then I see his tail shake in delight! It still drives him crazy if I give him a treat while she is in the same room, if he thinks it is really delicious.

    Teaching him "leave it" helped me make big strides with the behavior, plus just him growing up, but I didn't start uncrating him when I was away until I could trust him completely. But, there are the occasional times when I tell him to leave the cat when he mouths on me instead because he is so wound up about playing. We usually go play for a bit, and he is over it. Getting your pup neutered and teaching him good bite inhibition might help, too.

    Its gotten so much better that I even find them sleeping on my over-stuffed chair together occasionally.
  • AnnaAnna
    Posts: 621
    @Camilla281 Glad to hear it's something that can naturally decrease with age. Hammond loves my cat Zephyr, but he's terrible at understanding cat language.

    There've been a few times where she (the cat) has gotten so annoyed at him that she swatted him hard enough that he yelped/screamed. But he still goes right back at her.

    He's only 17 weeks and it's definitely not aggression, but I was hoping that by now they'd have started to work things out. I mean, they have a bit, the cat will let him sit on her and mouth her for a while before she gets fed up and runs. She's much more willing to enter rooms if he's already in it. Sometimes Hammond will ignore her, but for the most part he still gets really excited and has to chase/pounce her whenever he sees her.

    I'll have to work on Leave It more and start doing more re-directing. I haven't been doing much of that because I thought "eh, they'll figure their dynamic out eventually" (the cat had been raised and previously lived with dogs for like 6-7 years, but the past three years she's been the only pet - finally had an apartment that allowed pets and no roommates who were allergic so I moved her out of my parents house and in with me). When things get a little too rowdy or the cat gets very loudly annoyed (or Hammond yelps), I'll go break it up and redirect him, but I'll have to start it every time he looks at her, since he definitely STAAAAAARES sometimes. Really don't want it to turn into prey drive, though luckily the cat is pretty fat and thinks she's a dog, so she doesn't do much of that "slinky cat" movement.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    I have two cats they're outside, but Saya met them as a young puppy on leash only and I made sure she always acted calm with them luckily my cat is more relaxed and will just play around and not mind her even when she jumps over him and bites his long hair not meanly just soft bite out of play.

    Our new cat is friendly with the dogs, but he gets a bit flighty with Saya when she play bows, paws at him and so on so he runs of which coarse Saya gives chase she always stops once he runs into the garage and come running back to me. She's been better about it since I started working with leave it command with the cat being still and then casually walking around though running still temptation, but she has been getting better about leaving him and coming mid chase.

    Saya has high prey drive she searched the wood pile for an hour to find a field mouse she was unsuccessful because she already found the mouse and it ran into the high grass..

    She also caught a small rabbit and killed it..

    I'd crate your dog when away at work. Work on leave it and focus command.

    Book called Mine! might be good for resource guarding
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • We had our cat, Violet, for one year before we got Ginger. Ginger desperately wants to play with Violet and sometimes the cat will chase her back but when Violet is done, she's DONE. It's been a 2 year process getting to the point where they can peacefully coexist and there are moments when Violet is in a mood and wants nothing to do with Ginger.

    We feed Violet high up on a table so Ginger can not bother her when she eats. We also live in a 3 level townhouse and leave the very top level gated off so Violet has an entire floor to herself with her litterpan and toys. I think that helped alot, since Violet always has a quiet place. Now that Ginger is 2, she has calmed down a bit, which also helped. Ginger will leave Violet alone unless she's bored and if Violet doesn't want to play, she knows to leave her alone. Again, it took a long time and was quite the process but it is possible.

    When Ginger was a puppy we used the 'leave it' command with treats. We never used her crate as punishment and when Ginger would very calmy sniff Violet or ignore her, she'd get lots of praise and treats! Now they are to the point where they can cause mischief together (usually Violet starts and Ginger finishes it!), nap together (never snuggling though- Ginger takes a sunny stair and Violet will take one above her to keep an eye out), but they definitely have their "moments." It's a work in progress and don't get frustrated, there is no quick fix in getting your Shiba and cat to coexist. It takes time, training, time and TIME!

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