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Tips on Introducing Adult Dog to Adult Cats?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I know there've been posts on this before, and I've been reading up, but I wanted advice on a specific situation.

My mom just found out that she's going to need to travel for work. She'd planned for this, and was told that it would only be a few days at a time, but she just found out she's going to be away for 3-4 weeks!

The problem is that she has a dog. He's about 1.5 years and 40 pounds. He's a mutt, but watching the way he runs I suspect he's part border collie. Usually my mom's sister would take him, but she's already made plans to be away.

My boyfriend and I would be thrilled to have the dog for a month. He's very quiet and extremely well-behaved. Unfortunately, whenever he sees feral cats or wild animals, he is hell-bent on chasing them! It's the only time he barks. What we're hoping is that his chasing behavior is due to his being part herder, and not a prey drive.

We have two adult cats, and though we can lock the animals in separate rooms for a month if necessary, it's far from ideal. For one thing, there will likely be times when one animal gives us the slip for a minute, and that's all a dog needs if he really wants to hurt a cat. Also, the dog is still sort of timid from his time without a family (recently adopted), and we don't want the month to be unbearable for him.

So here's my question: is this a foolhardy endeavor? We know all the different approaches we can take to introducing them and keeping them all safe, but do you think it's not even worth the attempt with a dog known to chase cats? He's never met one in a person's home before, but it still makes us nervous. We're doing a trial intro this weekend, but it'll be hard to learn much from that.
post #2 of 10
The border collie in him will want him to herd the cats. If the instinct is really strong, he may annoy the cats and they will run, which will trigger the chase (I have a border collie mix that we adopted a year ago when she was 10 months old, so I know this).

I kept Lola on a leash in the house until she understood cat manners and never allowed her to be alone with the cats unsupervised until I could instill some training in her and she gained my trust. It is not ideal to separate everyone for a month, but I also wouldn't leave them alone together. How much training have your parents been able to give to him? Does he know basic sit, stay, come commands yet?

When a dog chases down a cat, it can be either herding or hunting instincts. But I've witnessed a greyhound hunt down a cat one time and trust me when I say you don't want to experience the consequence.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
My mom has only had him for about four months, so she's worked with him some, but not much. He obviously had some training before then, as he's excellent at "sit" and on the leash, and he's pretty good at "down." Whoever had him before was very harsh with him, though, so he gets spooked with anything other than very careful training. I'm going to suggest that she work on "leave it" in the upcoming weeks. "Stay" as well.

I don't think either of our cats would run. One would just hide (we have some high perches) and the other will actively try to put the dog in his place. We tried introductions a while ago with my father's dog, who is about 75 pounds and very gentle. She was excellent with both cats, but showed a little too much interest. The one chased her through the apartment and scared her half to death.

When we're home we'll allow them in the same room, and keep him leashed if necessary.

I suppose that this weekend will at least give us a chance to see if he has a hunting instinct. We're hoping that when he's inside he'll respect the cats' territory and be calm. That's the best case scenario.

Thanks for your response!
post #4 of 10
FYI - Outside cats vs. housecats are 2 VERY different things.

My 2 Labs chase the outside cats when loose. Don't touch the housecats.

That said - that's all the advice I can offer. Sorry.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
That's very good to know. That's what we're hoping will happen in this case. It's just so unnerving to see this mild-mannered dog try and take off like a bat out of hell after the ferals.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
And as a thank-you for the help, here's a picture of the beast in question.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
We just had our trial introduction and it went incredibly well! We were just hoping for evidence that the dog wasn't going to try and attack our cats, but it seems like we got really lucky. We pushed our luck a little and had actual face-to-face meetings just to make sure we weren't going to have any really nasty surprises.

Gus (the dog) was very calm, and we were able to keep him in a sit-stay or down-stay nearly the entire time. He showed some initial interest, but we kept treating him when he ignored the cats, and pretty soon he was only paying attention to us.

Audrey, who we thought would hide, didn't hiss or bristle at all. She was slightly wary, but with treats seemed content to sit just a few feet away from Gus. Fortunately she'll do anything for treats.

Marlon was a little more territorial, and spent a fair amount of time trying to get around behind Gus, but even he was pretty well-behaved. He didn't try to chase or swat at the dog, which for him is excellent.

So all in all, everything went great! We're still going to be very careful, but I think that within a week or two the animals will all be very comfortable together.
post #8 of 10
Often dogs will understand that another four-legged furry creature that is indoors and that the humans seem to like is a pet and not some kind of vermin. That said, it's great that the introductions have already gone so well. Usually cats take longer than a month to get used to a dog, so I was going to say it isn't worth trying to get them to like each other. Since you are going that route though I would take a cloth and wipe one of the cats, then wipe the dog and vice versa. Often if they smell alike they are less likely to try to do harm.
Hope it continues to go well!
PS I don't see any BC in Gus - maybe some kind of Shepherd mix.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
You could be right about his parentage. He just has that very low-to-the-ground run that you see with herding dogs. But there are lots of herding breeds.

Gus is back home with my mom for now. She's leaving on the 26th, so we'll get him back in maybe a week and a half. We're not going to push friendship, though it would be great if that happened, but just the lack of active dislike is good to see.

The towel idea is a good one! Thanks!
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to follow-up on this. My mom dropped off Gus (the dog) this morning, since she's leaving on the 27th.

I can't believe how well things are going. We had everything set up so that we could keep Gus in our bedroom for the first few days, but it's proven to be unnecessary.

Gus is currently passed out on the sofa next to me, one of the cats is napping under the coffee table right in front of the sofa, and the other is sleeping (of course) on the dog bed we'd ordered for Gus. So all three animals are in the same room, apparently quite comfortable.

Gus initially made a few moves to chase the cats when he saw them running after something, just in a playful sort of way, but after just a few times of keeping him in a sit when it happened and treating him, the problem seems to be solved.

We'll still be separating them when we're not around, at least for a few days to a week, but this has been bizarrely easy.

We had A LOT more trouble back when we introduced our second cat. Weeks of growling and hissing.
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