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Integrating a newly adopted dog into a home with other dogs and cats

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Forums Members Members General Discussion Integrating a newly adopted dog into a home with other dogs and cats

This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by John Ciribassi John Ciribassi 9 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #11258

    mgessner
    Participant

    I am brand new to the forum (didn’t even actually know it existed 30 minutes ago!) and I am excited about the prospect of having a new resource when it comes to behavior. I began looking into AVSAB initially as my family has adopted a new adult dog and I am trying to find information on how to integrate him successfully into a home with other dogs and a cat, a topic which many of my clients deal with routinely and which I do not yet have great advice for.

    Our situation is as follows: We adopted Cam yesterday from our local humane society. He had been in a New Leash on Life program for the previous 10 weeks where he was paired with a local inmate and trained in basic obedience under the tutelage of a local trainer. He knows many of the basic commands and responds well most of the time. He is a young (1.5ish yo, MN Pit mix) and excited dog, who has been great interacting with my wife and I and our 2 young kids. We also have a 7 year old English Bulldog (who is not a typical bulldog and is very excitable and active), a 14 year old greyhound/coonhound mix (who lives separately from the bulldog currently d/t joint issues, this would be the same for the new pooch), and a 7 year old indoor cat.

    We are pretty comfortable with the integration of Cam and the bulldog, Winston, we are taking it slow, in controlled settings, and they seem to be getting along well so far. He has seen Texas through a baby gate and hasn’t shown much interest. His first experience with the cat, Owen, was less than stellar. When we first brought Cam home yesterday we isolated the cat in a back bedroom. When Cam has been crated (he was already crate trained) we would let Owen out and he paid little attention to the cat. This morning the cat slipped out of the bedroom and Cam, who as far as I know has never interacted with a cat before, took chase and seemed mostly curious. I did not note any aggression at the time.

    This evening Cam was given a little time in the house with Winston, which was going fine, while Owen was being fed in our laundry room at the back of the house. When Cam noticed Owen across our kitchen he made a beeline for him and barked, hackles raised, as Owen hissed back at him from the bookshelf where he is fed, with several laundry baskets between them. Cam was ushered out of the laundry room and out of the kitchen, but definitely seemed curious about the cat still. I was blocking the entrance to the laundry room at that point and a few minutes later he came back through the kitchen hackles raised again. I ushered him back out again and had him cool down in his crate for a little while. Neither my wife nor I responded negatively, but I did need to remove him from the situation at the time.

    Cam is super sweet and we would love to keep him, but clearly we have to consider the safety of the resident animals first. Is this something we can overcome, or should we remove him from the situation before it gets worse? Are there guidelines or recommendations somewhere we can follow to help introduce him to the cat and avoid future regrettable actions?

    Any advice would be sincerely appreciated!

    Matt Gessner

  • #11261

    ckolus@gmail.com
    Participant

    Hi Matt.

    I hope you’ll get some more specific responses, but I suggest you check out two free webinars on this very topic at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers website: https://apdt.com/pet-owners/cats/. I admit I haven’t watched them (I should!) but I know and trust the presenter, Jacqueline Munera.

    Of course, safety is the top priority. Even if Cam just wanted to play, the size difference and exuberance can cause injury to kitty, as you know. So management right now really is crucial (closed/locked doors, crate, keeping a leash on, maybe tethering Cam to a person or to furniture). And lots of fun (reward-based) obedience work for Cam in increasingly distracting situations. But I think from what you’ve described so far, there is hope for a peaceful household with the right interventions.

    Good luck!

    Cheryl Kolus

  • #11268
    John Ciribassi
    John Ciribassi
    Keymaster

    Matt

    This is a tough one in my experience. It seems as though the personalities of the individuals involved trump the method of exposure. They either co-exist or they don’t. Also, co-existence can take some time to be achieved. We had a 1 1/2 year old Boxer several years ago and added a 1 1/2 year old cat to the household. The dog play bowed, the cat thought that meant stalking and swatted at the dog. The dog thought the cat was signaling play back and things escalated.

    We managed it by providing escape routes for the cat (elevated areas, gates across openings with a small space underneath for the cat to get through, prop open doors a small crack, etc). It took a couple years of gradually decreasing interactions but eventually they learned each other’s language and they grew to become best friends. Keeping them separate is a problem because I think what we get is that the dog essentially wants something more when they can’t have it. Frustration builds and it builds fear in the cat. No chance for a relationship to develop.

    Do, that just are my thoughts. Anxious to hear what other opinions are on this as well.

    John Ciribassi

    John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB
    Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants
    Carol Stream, IL 60188
    drjdvm@gmail.com
    www.chicagovetbehavior.com

  • #11289

    mgessner
    Participant

    Quick follow-up question – As we are introducing Cam to our bulldog, Winston, they both started to show an indication they were going to hump the other. Winston has always perked his ears and chattered his teeth a little right before he used to hump our previous dog. I distracted Winston to prevent the behavior, then a minute or so later Cam was behind Winston and started to hump the air, with the intent to mount him clearly obvious. Is this behavior that I should distract from or is it something they are going to have to sort out? So far when they are together they haven’t really interacted much. They follow each other around a little and like to sniff each other’s butts and groins, but no actual play yet.

    Any thoughts/suggestions on the humping?

    Thanks again for the previous responses! I have watched one of the webinars by Jacqueline Munera and it had a lot of great guidelines/tips to start using.

    Matt

  • #11290
    John Ciribassi
    John Ciribassi
    Keymaster

    Mounting is a non-specific behavior, meaning that there a few possible reasons for its occurrence. Anxiety, unfocused activity, attempts to establish relationships and sexual. If you are seeing both dogs attempting to mount, they are not overly worked up, and there is no escalation of aggressive behavior, I would allow them to interact to see if it helps work out their relationship with each other. If it persists, especially if it is one of the dogs pushing the other and the other dog is getting annoyed, then I would suspect an anxiety driven behavior and this can result in escalating aggression. I would then interrupt and redirect the dog that is mounting. If this commonly occurs after a period of prolonged physical activity, you might want to get in the habit of doing some simple, basic obedience exercises as an attempt to wind them down a bit emotionally after an active play session.

    John

    John Ciribassi DVM, DACVB
    Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants
    Carol Stream, IL 60188
    drjdvm@gmail.com
    www.chicagovetbehavior.com

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