Plays too rough with cat

Posted by Elaine
Feb 6, 2008

I have a 5 month old puppy that plays too roughly with my 15 old cat. She is now living up stairs where the dog can't get to her. I did not stop this play at the begining because I thought they would work out thier "higherarchy" the way the puppy did with my older dog. After a few weeks of the puppy living here, through your book I found out I never should have let it go on.

Now it's a problem, but only when I leave them alone and the cat ventures down into the rest of the house. I work at home and can hear it start....I break it up and repromand the puppy. She responds very well and fast to all other behavioral problems she has had, but not this.

Do you have any suggestions, I feel so sad that my dear cat has to resort to hiding unless I'm in the room with them

Thanks for your time.

Posted by Todd
Feb 10, 2008
Hi there Elaine and thank you for your question.

Hmmm what a dilemma. I think it is important that you keep reprimanding your puppy. Unfortunately it is hard with such an energetic age of pup to control them too much but we will give it our best go.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

I also think it is very important that your puppy is banned from couches and beds as these are items that can be used to represent dominance.

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

The second after you have reprimanded your puppy and he shows the correct behaviour you must immediately reinforce this with praise, petting and attention.

The next step you will have to take is to work very hard on your puppies obedience. Regular training sessions are key to improving your dog's obedience responses and keeping it used to answering your commands. Concentrate on the sit and stay, down and stay, heel and wait commands. The more obedient he is the more likely you are to have success and get him to respond to you when he misbehaves. This training will take a lot of time and patience.

Now to deal with the particular problem. I think it is important that the cat and the puppy only have meetings when you are their to supervise and control them. It is important that only light play is allowed, no rough housing, chewing or rolling on each other.
I think it would be a good idea to have a check chain on your puppy during this. Reprimand your puppy as above when he misbehaves and give him a short yank on the chain. This will help give him the idea about what is acceptable and what isn't.
Let him play with the cat and when things get out of control give him a GRRRRRR and a yank, you may also want to say Gentle. Keep up with this.

When you are not there keep them separate. Try and feed them near each other and try ignore your pup and give the cat all the attention. If the dog tries to steal attention tell him off and go back to the cat.

With time and patience your puppy will learn when to be gentle and rough. Male sure he is getting heaps of exercise and has heaps of these toys as a tired distracted dog causes less trouble.

Good Luck

Todd Field