Cockerpoo Ruby chasing the cat.
The cat runs. Ruby chases.
The cat isn’t scared of Ruby. In fact the cat deliberately eggs her on, they feel.
There is a bit of disconnect between what they want to achieve and what they are prepared to do.
They want to stop Ruby chasing the cat. They want to stop Ruby barking at the cat. They want to stop Ruby barking at 5am when the cat bombs in through the cat flap and runs past her upstairs. They want to stop Ruby barking like mad when one of the couple goes upstairs.
It’s all about stopping Ruby.
Now they can work on what they DO want Ruby to do.
This requires Ruby being less excited around the cat and the cat behaving differently around Ruby.
Meanwhile, they will need management. If the behaviour is continually rehearsed all our efforts will be a waste of time.
When the cat runs past, Ruby is aroused. She simply can’t help chasing her. It’s an entrenched habit fuelled by excitement.
There now has to be as little rehearsal of chasing the cat as possible.
Their management options
These are their options without which I can’t see any progress being achieved.
At night time to shut the cat out (they can’t do this)
At night time to shut the cat in (they can’t do this)
At night time shut the cat downstairs and allow Ruby upstairs (the cat needs to come and go)
At night time to tie the cat flap open so it’s not so noisy (the cat has a microchip that clicks by the flap. Also an open cat flap lets in outside noises).
Daytime: Barking when they go upstairs (probably because she knows the cat may be up there): to let her up with them.
Daytime: shutting the cat downstairs (they can’t do this)
My preferred daytime option is to take Ruby upstairs on lead to prevent her chasing the cat.
Much of this is simply putting some restrictions on the cat without which I can’t see them making any progress.
Working on the cat-chasing problem itself
If they do all they can, somehow, to prevent further rehearsal, they can now actually work on Ruby not chasing the cat.
They only have the one downstairs room with the cat flap at one end.
For the work, they will close the cat flap and shut the doors so there is nowhere for the cat to run.
They should have Ruby on harness and trailing a light lead so they can prevent her chasing the cat without any scolding or shouting.
They will teach now Ruby to come and Touch their hand when the can moves. They can teach both cat and dog to come immediately for something small and tasty.
I taught them how to use a clicker. Every time Ruby looks but isn’t running at the cat (which she can’t do anyway because of the lead), they will click and reward her.
Something has to give.
If they want to succeed they will need to put in a lot of work and be consistent. They will need to prevent further rehearsal of chasing the cat.
They will keep Ruby’s general excitement down as much as possible. Preventing barking at passing people is one of them. They will give her more fulfilling and enriching activities.
I could understand that none of my management suggestions were very welcome! However, the only way to change the situation is for them to change what they do. If they go on just the same, chasing the cat won’t change either.
The bottom line
The bottom line is, if the cat were to die if left out at night they would shut the cat flap. If the cat were to die if shut in all night they would shut the cat flap. If Ruby were to die if she barked at the bottom of the stairs they would consider taking her up on lead. If Ruby were to die if she barked at passing people they would find a way of stopping her looking out of the window. If the cat were to die if she wasn’t shut upstairs during the night they would shut her upstairs…. and so on.
They will talk through their options. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help