View Full Version : Anyone had a cat-aggressice cav and managed to sort it?!

14th February 2012, 08:40 AM
Argh, Barney is driving me :lpy: at the moment! I have two cats, both of whom lived successfully with my German Shepherd before he died (he was cat-aggressive but I was able him to condition him to live with them and they were good friends in the end) and they bring out Barneys worst side, he is beyond cat-aggressive, I really think he would kill one if he got hold if it. I have been working on this for a month and a half now with very little progress, I can sit on the sofa with the cat on my lap (reluctantly!) and he will lie on the rug with his kong or whatever but he is watching and growling the whole time, the second the cat flinches he is up and really barking (that woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo sort of bark).... they just seem to bring out stress hormones in him that cannot be moderated and I have no idea what the next step is?! My poor cats have to live upstairs (barney isn't allowed upstairs) which is a shame because they so enjoyed the company of my last dog and I've always considered Cavs to be quite a cat-friendly breed?! Any suggestions?

Kate H
14th February 2012, 09:46 AM
Can't really help, because Oliver is OK with cats in the house (he grew up with them), though he tries to get at them out of doors (though I think this is to say hello rather than chase them - but cats don't know the difference!). Aled has never seen a cat at close quarters and would probably be terrified if he did! But my immediate reaction to your story of Barney was 'Is this aggression or is it jealousy?' How would he react if he was cuddled securely on your lap and someone else sat nearby with a cat on their lap? If it is jealousy, you need to make Barney feel as secure as possible, to show him that the cats are no threat to his place in your heart. Ideally he will then learn to tolerate them and recognise that you having them on your lap for a time doesn't mean you love him less.

Just my thoughts, but worth exploring???

Kate, Oliver and Aled

14th February 2012, 10:49 AM
While particular breeds can be more cat friendly than others, every individual dog is also different so it;s hard to make any predictions and there are no fail-safe ways to approach this. As you will know from having your German Shepherd, it can take months to years to acclimate a dog to cats–and any dog that has ever shown any kind of real aggression should never be considered safe with cats anyway and always needs to be supervised. Many dogs will kill a cat if they have the opportunity–but the opposite concern is that dogs can end up losing an eye as a cat can easily blind a dog in an instant. We do have members here who have had their dogs blinded in one eye by a cat–so this has got to always be a concern.

It is much easier to train a puppy to live with cats–and much harder to try to train an older dog, especially one that has an ingrained behavior, or a high prey drive and a tendency to want to chase. It may actually be impossible–or, with patience, over time the dog's attitude may change. It is very hard to predict, but I think one of the things you need to do is to clarify whether you actually have an aggressive dog or just an excited barky dog as the 2 can be quite different. Lots of dogs get excited and bark at cats but that isn't really aggression. Real aggression is almost impossible to train away from and as noted, a dog that is truly aggressive to cats could never be trusted alone with them and would always need to be carefully managed in their presence.

I do have a post all about acclimating cats and Cavaliers–with lots of links on how to train dogs, in the Library section. That is probably a good place to start. A basic of doing this kind of thing is that it isn't just a matter of having them both in the same room, but of actually shifting the dog's perspective to one of very positive associations when a cat is nearby. So for example, the classic way of doing this is to offer small treats so that the dog begins to associate positive rewards for just being in the presence of the cat (this would begin with the cat at a very good distance away, not something as hard for the dog is having the cat just a couple of feet away). Over time, the dog or the cat could be brought closer, still giving the dog a steady reward of little treats. In general, this is the exact same approach used to calm reactive dogs on the lead, which will work but it takes time and can't be rushed. If the dog is overwhelmed–by another dog being too close, or a cat being too close–then that can reverse all the training up to that point because suddenly they just forget to be calm and go ballistic.

When I was running rescue, this is a point I would always make to people who would ask whether a dog was “cat friendly”. It is really very difficult to know this even in a household where there are cats around as dogs can be completely different with different cats. Often they are fine with their “own” cats but will bark their head off at strange cats at a distance. Mine are like this–however, I just brought a new cat into the household, and they were interested but indifferent about a cat that was inside–they seem to in their minds, differentiate between their “own” cats!

Best of luck–all I can say is this is something to do very carefully and cautiously so that no harm comes to either party. I will say that time does tend to help, and that one of the problems is often owners trying to force a friendship or even tolerance way too fast for the dog, which typically needs a much slower adjustment.

14th February 2012, 10:53 AM
PS I do think it sounds like you are doing fairly well and perhaps are discounting how much you have achieved?

One element here is for Barney to have an excellent downstay -- so he doesn't pop up and take off after the cat. If the cats are not too bothered by all this, I think over time he will settle down. It is all pretty new still for him.

14th February 2012, 11:08 AM
Thanks for the replies, very useful! I'm fairly sure it's not jealousy and probably a combination of excitement with a tiny bit of aggression, he has really charged at them if they have dared to try and come downstairs. Saying that, he must have a smidge of self control because when she dashed back up the stairs he stayed at the bottom, he knows he's not allowed up. I think you're probably right Karlin and I am expecting too much too soon and being able to lie in the room with a still cat IS progress, I make sure he associates them with something good hence a yummy stuffed kong or marrow bone which he only gets when they are in the room.... will definitely work on the down stay as well.....

and for anyone interested and not on facebook, a couple of pics of his fabby weight loss!!!

http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t39/jbambridge/Captain Barnacles/407966_10150450799786086_522276085_9232530_2660094 71_n.jpg

After one month :)
http://i156.photobucket.com/albums/t39/jbambridge/Captain Barnacles/408110_10150517158766086_522276085_9457852_4943139 8_n.jpg

Brian M
14th February 2012, 11:15 AM
We had three cats when Poppy then Daisy arrived so do persevere and keep the treats handy and they will get used to each other eventually
and as Karlin says they will recognise the difference between your cats and other cats .Captain Barnacles looks a smasher .

Kate H
14th February 2012, 01:02 PM
Meant to say in my earlier post - congratulations on Barney's diet, and now I can see that he's looking great. It's not easy, so very well done!

Kate, Oliver and Aled

14th February 2012, 03:08 PM
Barnacles looks great!!! Congrats on his weight loss!

I had a lot of problems with my 4 year old cat and puppy, Sonny when I first brought him home. Sonny isn't aggressive with my cat, but REALLY, REALLY loves to play with him. Often his play gets rough and I hear growling during the play. I don't have a lot of advice on what to do, but I just wanted to post and let you know in my experience things have calm down quite a bit after awhile. Sonny still really wants to play with my cat and will sometimes try to chase him, but now that he listens better we are able to say Leave it or what ever command and intervene before play gets too rough. Sonny and Nico JUST started laying together on the couch on a regular basis without any problems and I would say that took about 5 months..... I know your situation is a little different since Barnacle isn't a puppy, but hopefully this gives you hope that things will get better. :)

15th February 2012, 02:21 PM
Nothing to add to the thread but Wow! Barney looks great!