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Crazy Animal Lady

Advice needed - will our rescue ever be cat tolerant?

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Hi everyone. Recently my partner and I lost our beautiful Rottweiler x Kelpie and decided to add another member to our family. We have two cats, one dog and two rabbits. We adopted a Kelpie x from our local shelter, however they were unsure if she would be okay with cats. She is nine years old, very loveable and knows a little bit of training, we don’t have much info on her background.

 

My partner instantly connected with her and we took the gamble and brought her home. We have not introduced her to our two rabbits (who live inside but have their own room with a high baby gate and door so our new girl can not access them).

The rabbits we can work around but we need our new girl to at least be able to tolerate the cats. We have slowly introduced them, putting the cats in the cat carrier and our girl on lead. We were told that she is highly food motivated but when trying to distract and recall her when the cats are close by - simply does not work. We have separated the cats and her, ensuring that the cats have their own safe place (they also have a baby gate) and are trying to juggle between the two at this stage (along with the rabbits).

 

A trainer that we know and trust is coming over later on this week to help us. However, we are highly stressed at this stage as our new girl will not settle and is constantly pacing around the room, sniffing and trying to get to where the cats are. We have tried numerous treats and toys but she will not let it go.

 

Have we potentially taken on a dog who will never be cat tolerate? 
We want to be fair on our cats and our new rescue, and of course we don’t expect a miracle.. But at this stage, it is feeling like she cannot stop fixating on the cats. Early days I know, but I have the uneasy feeling that it may not work.

Edited by Crazy Animal Lady

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Sounds very stressful :( For how long have you had this new girl ? 
At 9 yrs old..you are taking a big risk. 
A working breed X?  ..unknown quantity.
small animals(prey, quick movements)
I wouldn't do it ...and I consider myself experienced. I just wouldn't want all the extra work/stress and then have it not work :(
The distract /recall will NOT work on prey drive, in my opinion ....it may in puppies, but an adult? Doubt it very much. 

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As above. :( 

I think you're going to have to be very careful for the time being and I assume by the sound of what you have said, that she has a decent prey drive. Something that is often hard-wired (not a learned behaviour) into a dog and they won't respond to treats or distractions or noises - it's complete focus.

 

Sorry. I advise you to return her.  It doesn't mean she will never be rehomed from the shelter, they will just have more information and be able to make a better match next time.

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Hi Persephone, thank you for your reply!

We have had her for less than a week, she is only now starting to slowly come out of her shell - she is on anxiety medication (two tablets a day) and we are to wean her off these over the next two weeks and if all goes well, she will have them for storms only.

 

Perhaps we have bitten off more than we can chew.. She is such a sweet girl, gets on so well with our little Pomeranian x Chihuahua but her obsession with the cats is very tiring. She just wants to find them and chase them.

My husband was in tears last night as he so badly wants it to work, we are just unsure how much time we should give it. We have had rescues in the past and know that each case varies, we just don’t know when to admit defeat. Do you give it a month? Two months? Three? I just do not know.

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5 minutes ago, Powerlegs said:

As above. :( 

I think you're going to have to be very careful for the time being and I assume by the sound of what you have said, that she has a decent prey drive. Something that is often hard-wired (not a learned behaviour) into a dog and they won't respond to treats or distractions or noises - it's complete focus.

 

Sorry. I advise you to return her.  It doesn't mean she will never be rehomed from the shelter, they will just have more information and be able to make a better match next time.

Hi Powerlegs, thank you for your reply!

That is what I am thinking sadly. I love older dogs and had the best intentions to adopt but feeling now that our home is very “special” with the cats and rabbits and it will be extremely hard to find an older dog who will adapt well into our home.

Edited by Crazy Animal Lady
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Diva   

I am afraid I would return the dog before something goes wrong. That fixated behaviour is stressful for all concerned and will probably be very difficult to change. My dogs can sail over a baby gate from a standing start and they are not as agile as Kelpies, so be careful. 

 

It sounds like you need to find a dog that that is known cat safe, either a direct rehome, out of a foster situation with cats, or a puppy that can grow up that way. 

Edited by Diva
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5 minutes ago, Diva said:

I am afraid I would return the dog before something goes wrong. That fixated behaviour is stressful for all concerned and will probably be very difficult to change. My dogs can sail over a baby gate from a standing start and they are not as agile as Kelpies, so be careful. 

 

It sounds like you need to find a dog that that is known cat safe, either a direct rehome, out of a foster situation with cats, or a puppy that can grow up that way. 

Hi Diva, thank you for your reply!

We are being very careful, we always have her in the room with us (or put her in our room if we are not home). She is never allowed to roam freely of our home, she has the front of the house and the cats and rabbits have the back of the house. However this setup is very tiring.

We were hoping that this behaviour could be fixed eventually, we are willing to put the time and effort in but by the sounds of it, it may not be repairable.

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Diva   

It may not be repairable because it isn’t broken, if that makes sense, just part of her make up. She sounds like a high prey drive dog, which is normal behaviour. But if she didn’t learn young that cats are family not prey that can be hard to learn at nine. 

Of course no one can say her attitude can’t be changed just from reading your description so take guidance from your trainer. 

I have a high prey drive breed and they are great with my elderly cat, very safe, but I wouldn’t bring in a nine year old and expect that if it wasn’t used to them.

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Adding a dog to your family should not be stressful for either the dog or yourself. 
She is already on medication, you and your husband are in tears and stretched emotionally - that is so not how it should be :( I am sorry. 
The rescue can now concentrate on finding her a home without small animals ..where she can enjoy her humans, and they her . :)

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Just now, Diva said:

It may not be repairable because it isn’t broken, if that makes sense, just part of her make up. She sounds like a high prey drive dog, which is normal behaviour. But if she didn’t learn young that cats are family not prey that can be hard to learn at nine. 

Of course no one can say her attitude can’t be changed just from reading your description so take guidance from your trainer. 

I have a high prey drive breed and they are great with my elderly cat, very safe, but I wouldn’t bring in a nine year old and expect that if it wasn’t used to them.

Yes, apologies wrong wording on my behalf! We did take the gamble and sadly the gamble may not of paid off. How long would you suggest we give it roughly? Hoping our trainer can give us some guidance but we also have to be mindful of the stress and fairness for our long term family members.

I guess we feel guilt and feel like we have let her down if things do not turn out. Her anxiety was through the roof in the shelter.

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5 minutes ago, persephone said:

Adding a dog to your family should not be stressful for either the dog or yourself. 
She is already on medication, you and your husband are in tears and stretched emotionally - that is so not how it should be :( I am sorry. 
The rescue can now concentrate on finding her a home without small animals ..where she can enjoy her humans, and they her . :)

Perhaps I am trying too hard to make something work that never will.

I will have a chat to hubby tonight and see where his thought process is at.

Thank you :) 

Edited by Crazy Animal Lady
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Diva   

Maybe see if you can find a rescue organisation that uses foster carers that will take her, with full disclosure and a donation if you can, instead of returning her to a shelter situation. I would find returning a dog to a shelter hard too. 

Edited by Diva
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1 minute ago, Diva said:

Maybe see if you can find a rescue organisation that uses foster carers that will take her, with full disclosure and a donation if you can, instead of returning her to a shelter situation. I would find returning a dog to a shelter hard too. 

Great thinking, thank you Diva :) 

Fingers crossed I can find a rescue within Vic that can help.

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Dogsfevr   
1 hour ago, Crazy Animal Lady said:

. We have had rescues in the past and know that each case varies, we just don’t know when to admit defeat. Do you give it a month? Two months? Three? I just do not know.

This isn't about you accepting defeat ,this is about the dog & what is in its best interests .You either need to accept this is the wrong dog for your home or be prepared to change your home routine for the next few years
I think realistically when you have the added animals you do living in the house then ensuring the dog you bring home is far more important than taking the risk of we may make it work & it doesn't .

Personally i think the sooner you make the decision the better it is for the dog than to go a month or so in your house & be returned when its the higher time for dumping season .
Dog already has issues & being moved about again will just add more stress to its life but  the right home may be out there waiting so a win win for this mature dog

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6 minutes ago, Dogsfevr said:

This isn't about you accepting defeat ,this is about the dog & what is in its best interests .You either need to accept this is the wrong dog for your home or be prepared to change your home routine for the next few years
I think realistically when you have the added animals you do living in the house then ensuring the dog you bring home is far more important than taking the risk of we may make it work & it doesn't .

Personally i think the sooner you make the decision the better it is for the dog than to go a month or so in your house & be returned when its the higher time for dumping season .
Dog already has issues & being moved about again will just add more stress to its life but  the right home may be out there waiting so a win win for this mature dog

Yes, you are right. Thank you :) 

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Rebanne   

As someone who has Greyhounds and an inside cat and have fostered for GAP, quite a few years ago now when I had at least 3 cats, I'd be removing the dog asap. If she can't be easily distracted then I would never trust her with my cats. I don't give them any time, they either are, or they are not, cat tolerant. And it only takes a short time to see that. It's a highly stressful situation for you all, people, dog, cats and rabbits. And no way to live for anyone of you.

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juice   

Agreed , either cat safe or not, one slip and you may lose a cat and then how would you feel ?

its a shame you are in Victoria as I know of a young girl needing a home who lives with another dog and cat , relationship breakup .

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Deeds   

My Giant can open baby gates with his paw.  Luckily we don't have any cats but we wanted to keep the pup from going upstairs.  Rolf however can open every door in the house including the baby gate.

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Sad as is seems at the moment, I agree with those who have said to return the dog or to find another  rescue group.  Under no circumstances have you and your husband failed - on the contrary.  When I was in the business of rescuing and rehoming, I would always stress that your first consideration is your existing family: human and pets.  

 

It it is a very hard thing to do, to return a dog, but it needs to be done.  

 

 

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