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Do dogs learn from other dogs?

June 27th, 2005, 02:09 PM
We have an 11 year old mixed breed dog who we adopted as an adult 4 years ago on the same day we adopted a new kitten. We were assured at the time the adult dog was comfortable with other pets (including cats) and were not lied to. The kitten grew up happy and content never knowing any other dogs other than his big dog friend who has fun floppy ears to bat around and a tail to chase. We could not have asked for a more cat-tolerant/supportive dog. Two weeks ago, we came upon an opportunity too good to pass up and adopted a 5 month old purebred Catahoula puppy. She's beautiful, smart, and has a great disposition. It was always our plan to eventually introduce a new puppy for company for the old guy in his declining years (yet to do it before he gets too crotchety), and even though this was kind of early for us, the timing is likely as good as any. I work out of a home office and enjoy the pets being around and have lots of time to spend with them. I'm diligently working with the high-energy puppy (this breed needs lots of walks and excercise, so that's happening), we've enrolled in puppy obedience class, and I can tell already she's going to be a quick learner. I'm committed to her and we're doing our homework -- overall the situation is working well. The old dog loves her, and even seems to have a renewed energy about him, which is really great to see.

The issue arises more with the cat, who is surprisingly not afraid of the new dog in any way, and feels very comfortable hanging around constantly, despite the numerous cat doors and private places we have set up for him.

The puppy constantly wants to chase and play with the cat, so my time indoors is used up on this one behaviour of trying to encourage leaving the cat alone and not chasing or running in the house. I'm comfortable that the dog does not want to kill the cat, rather she is looking for the same reaction she gets from the dog, which of course she won't get. What I'm wondering is, does it help to praise the other dog in her presence as to his appropriate behaviour with the cat. They will touch noses, calmly walk past each other etc. Will the new dog see that this is the way she's "supposed" to behave with the cat? Or is that tactic just a waste of time? Am I better off just working really hard with the new puppy on obedience training so that we get to the point where she will listen so well to me on command, the cat merely becomes another distraction we'll one day be able to minimize?

I'm really not looking for the puppy to have the same relationship with the cat the older dog has, I just want her to be able to wander through the house calmly off-leash, rather than being on a constant tear looking for the cat.

Sorry this is so long. I guess I just don't want to do anything wrong from the beginning.

Thanks for any help anyone can provide.

SR in Edmonton

June 27th, 2005, 02:39 PM
IMO, I think in time the pup will settle down and not want to chase the cat as much. Puppies are crazy!!! Once the pup has realised the cat isn't leaving anytime soon, she'll get used to the cat being around. If the cat doesn't run, the pup won't chase it. It's kind of a two way street! I know you'll get much better responses from other members here!

Does the cat tease the pup? Is the cat terrified of the puppy?

June 27th, 2005, 02:51 PM
Congrats on the pup and welcome to the board!

If you haven't done so already, how about teaching the new puppy the "leave it" command? It is a great way to get the puppy to stop chasing the cat on command. Eventually she will realize this is a no-no.

She is still very young and has a lot of energy, she will settle down as she gets older. The obedience work will help tremendously as well. You can always get her to go in a down stay when she is about to give chase.

June 27th, 2005, 05:04 PM
onecattwodogs, when I read your post, I thought that your were describing what went on in my house!

My cat grew up with my old dog as her "mother" but I never imagined that she would adore a new puppy so much. To my surprise they got along wonderfully from the beginning and then they started playing chase. The cat would go up and stand over the puppy or rub her scent on his toys until he would chase her. The puppy is now almost a year old and they have spent the whole time chasing. Since the cat is usually the one to insitigate the chase, I could hardly discipline the puppy. Nothing has ever happened to the puppy or the cat. Now, when they aren't chasing they are usually cuddling together!

If you are worried, then do teach your puppy the leave it command! Also you can teach the gentle command.

BTW - congrats, I would love to see of pic of your catahoula - they are VERY good looking dogs!! I would love to be owned by one!!

June 28th, 2005, 10:22 AM
Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I'm not worried exactly, it's just that Voodoo is such a great dog when we're outside or out visiting. She's my companion and friend already, even though we've only known each other a short time. Inside she is consumed with the cat, and I cannot distract her with anything (including my affection), until she's satisfied the cat has gone through one of his little doors and is not coming out for a long time. Even then Voodoo will sit and wait. She knows "leave it" with other dogs in the park, and "things", but it's completely ineffective with the cat. That's a good point about who instigates what. The cat isn't teasing as much as I believe enjoying the reaction of the dog, and making quite an effort to be "in view" so as to get that reaction, so maybe he likes the chase as much as the dog likes wanting to chase. I think I'm going to let it go, move any breakable things out of the way, and let them figure out how to play with each other. My kids are teenagers, my other dog and cat are adults, so I guess it's just been a while since we've had a "baby" in the house and it's probably something I need to work at more than the pets. I'm new to the forum, and look forward to re-learning my baby stuff here with you all. I hope I attached this picture correctly. My Catahoula is the rare lighter colour, and is very beautiful. Dante is the flamepoint himalayan cross sitting on the table, while Voodoo and Cocoa bond beneath him.


June 28th, 2005, 10:28 AM
What a sweet photo, it almost looks like the puppy knows where the cat is! I love that the two dogs are cuddling together! I can't wait to see this pup grow - what's her name?

June 28th, 2005, 10:37 AM
Your furbabies are adorable!

I thought that I would just let you know that when my Beagle was a puppy, our cat took it upon herself to tease her. Our cat enjoyed to be chased and was always the instigator! They became very close friends. It is funny to watch as the grew older. Our beagle grew to be 30 lbs and the cat will actually knock her over onto her back and play bite Misty's chest. Neither one hurts the other, they just played together. They key is to make sure that they play nice and that nobody gets hurt.

July 9th, 2005, 02:28 PM
and sadly, no...the new pup will not necessarily learn from the older dog. Some do, some dont. You need to treat each new "baby" as it's own person and train individually. We made the mistake of just expecting that one of our new pups would automatically "grow up" and stop chasing the cats. It didn't happen and at 5 he still had a go at them from time to time.
However, with our next pup, we changed tactics and trained him not to chase. He learned quickly because we put effort into rewarding him for backing off on a chase when we told him to. Eventually, at 5 months, they could lie with him, rub under his chin with their tails (he's a big guy) and run past him. All he'd do is wag is tail and look at us to say, "See? I'm a good dog! I don't chase!"

I'm not saying that your dog won't "grow up" and grow out of it, but it's not always the case. We've had 8 dogs in our lives (we're in our late 30s and always have more than one dog at a time!) and numerous cats and horses. All but one has lived lonnnnnng happy lives. They have all learned to get along at various levels but I can say from experience that you need to work with your pup and reinforce the behavior you want. If you leave it "to the wind" you might end up with a sneaky adult cat chaser like we did. The dog may never hurt the cat deliberately but there is a size and weight difference to consider and accidents do happen.


July 9th, 2005, 07:29 PM
I think it's possible. If the older dog is calm around the kitty, the younger dog can sense it, just like if the older one was afraid of the cat, the pup would sense that. It's a bonus that the older dog is great with the cat, but it just depends how much rubs off on the pup, or to what extent the pup is affected by the older dog's attitude toward the cat.

July 21st, 2005, 01:52 AM
(Apologies in advance for the length of my post!)

I came across your post accidentally and wanted to congratulate you on saving a Catahoula! We have two (both purebred) - Phoenix is a red-leopard natural bobtail who's 2 years old (from Ontario) and Doublé (it's a fencing term!) is a 6 month old grey leopard patchwork from Florida. Funny, I say "we"... really, they're my Mom's! But I'm their "big sister" and baby sitter so they might as well be mine! As soon as I get rid of my apartment and get into a house, I'll have my own as well. One of Phoenix's sisters (a solid black with brindle trim) lives in Alberta too and another is in B.C.

I just wanted to let you know about some other resources if you want to learn more about Catahoulas. And since Voodoo is still less than 2 years old, then you'll be wanting that resource! LOL! You might be in for an experience - but one you won't regret! These guys require a LOT of work (in most cases) but the rewards are worth it. You'll notice over the 1.5 years, that the mail man appears to be delivering little pieces of her brain... sometimes he takes them away again, but they usually come back! At around two though, the rest of her brain is delivered - it's like a little light turns on and they seem to mature instantly. Now, that's not to say ALL Catahoulas are like that or that other breeds aren't, but that's my experience and what we were told when we went through the "terrible twos" before Phoenix turned two! From your post, it sounds like you are very committed to doing the right thing for her, so kudos to you for that! A lot of people find Catahoulas "too energetic" to be able to deal with them and that's why they end up in shelters. They need a lot of exercise and training and are definitely not for everyone! I don't know if I'm allowed to post links to other message boards or anything on here (not trying to solicit people!), so if you'd like, you can send me a private message or email (whichever option works!) and I can let you know what it is.

I have a comment about her colouring and I really hope that you won't take this the wrong way! The fact that the "lighter colour" is rare is actually a good thing (for the breed in general). Catahoulas and several other breeds with that much white are called excessive white (EW) due to double merle genes and often have health problems - deafness, blindness, gastric problems etc. EWs are the one thing that reputable breeders try to avoid. I don't mean to imply that you have a defective dog or that she's not good looking, or not worth it or anything! There are EW dogs out there that are perfectly fine! She's a beauty and looks like she's settled in quite nicely! I just wanted to let you know in case you didn't know and in case you have questions.

Here's a picture of our 2 dogs and the cat - they're a handful! The play sometimes gets a little rough, but the cat is pretty good at putting the dog's in their places. And dogs definitely can learn from 'their elders', but it will depend on the dog and the younger the puppy the better I think. Voodoo will hopefully calm down around the cat eventually, but it might take a while and there is always the possibility that she won't. (I'm a positive person aren't I?!) Praising and treating her when she's calm around the cat would be great and will hopefully help. But I realize those times may be few and far between! The "leave it" or "enough" command is good to teach and is applicable for a lot of situations. What about a spray bottle of water? Every time she goes for the cat, give her a little squirt. Some people are against "spray" tactics, (if anyone here is please don't flame me) so to each is own. They really are determined dogs and will do just about anything if the desire to do so is strong enough, regardless of what "treats" are offered. Enrolling her in obedience classes for socialization and training would be really helpful too as she'll learn restraint and learn to do what you want her to do, when you want her to. Remember these dogs want a job to do and if you don't give them one, they'll find one of their own! But once you get them trained, they're the most faithful, true dog you've ever known.

Keep us updated!

July 21st, 2005, 02:36 AM
If you respond everytime your puppy goes near the cat he will think this is a great game and I get lots of attention. If you ignore as long as nobody is getting hurt the novelty will quickly pass. A cat can stay out of the way if he really wants to.