Stress

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Pawbla, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. Pawbla Experienced Member

    This is more of a household problem rather than a behaviour problem, but I require some help and maybe it's possible you have good ideas.

    Lately my dog has been very stressed. Not only him, but me too.

    Remember that I got a kitty? Said kitty has turned into a destructive force, and my dog has taken up the task of correcting him every time he is doing something wrong. You can't leave Holden (the cat) alone, or he'll break something. Yesterday I woke up 3 times in the night, twice because he had spilled all the contents of the garbage can in the floor, once because he threw a chair to the floor. Now, this wouldn't be much of a problem (although I hope he stops doing that when he grows up), but my dog is really stressed about the cat. He was never a reactive dog, but now he's started to be dog reactive. He has also started to be overly protective of me. And all this started when the cat came home. Every time the cat does something "wrong" (such as spilling garbage can contents, stealing food, or attacking people) he goes over and corrects him just like a mother dog would correct a puppy.

    I've thought of maybe locking Holden in a room and leaving Winston in another one while we're gone. Which is a shame, really, since I wanted a cat so he could play with someone when he's alone. But what would a hyperactive cat do, 8 hours in a room? Play on his own? I don't think it would be good either. Usually when we're home there isn't much of a problem, because we distract him a lot, but the problem is usually at night or when we're sleeping. I can't get a second cat, and I don't want to give him up for adoption or anything like that.

    What can I do to lower my dog's stress? I need some clever ideas.

  2. charmedwolf Moderator

    I would definitely separate them for a little bit just to ease the tension for each of them. If you have kongs, make one up for both cat and dog so they have something calm and soothing to do.

    I know this sound weird but I put my cat Sin in a crate at night for the first year. You could try and do the same so he isn't constantly getting into things.
    jackienmutts, Mutt and Pawbla like this.
  3. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I have two Kongs but my dog doesn't really like Kongs. I'll leave one for him too anyways but he's not much into it haha.

    I don't have money for a crate, but would putting him into the bathroom work? I've been thinking about that for a while. He loves the bathroom.
  4. charmedwolf Moderator

    Yes, a bathroom would work. Just make sure it is a space just for him and that he can't get into anything of course.
    jackienmutts and Pawbla like this.
  5. Pawbla Experienced Member

  6. vickih Well-Known Member

    Sounds like the cat is causing all the problems so perhaps this is the wrong forum to be asking for advice! Can you train a behaviour out of a cat? I know nothing about them!! It sounds as though if you can calm the cat then the dog will be fine again. Good luck!
    Pawbla likes this.
  7. 648117 Honored Member

    There is a show called "My Cat from Hell" on animals planet. It has a guy who goes around solving behavioural problems in cats. Look up some clips on youtube, I think there have been a number of destructive cats on that show. I'll put some of the stuff I've learnt from that show here (ignore it if it doesn't apply to you or you already do it).

    I don't know how normal it is to play with cats (my family doesn't really play with our cats but they have free access to outside) so the idea of playing with the cat to solve behavioural problems was slightly novel to me since I don't have any experience with the needs of indoor cats.

    Usually the owners are not meeting the cats needs (especially important for indoor cats that can't go out and do their own thing). I think it's "Hunt. Eat. Sleep" that he always says.
    Then he nearly always tells the owner to get more cat furniture (ie, climbing trees, shelves, scratching posts, etc that the cat is encouraged to go on and so that the cat can go all the way around the room without touching the floor because cats like to be up high).
    Then he gives them a cat toy that is basically a bunch of feathers on a string attached to a stick. He tells them to play with the cat until it is panting (really get it running around the room chasing the "bird"), then feed the cat (don't free feed the cat if you can) and then the cat should be ready to sleep. "Hunt. Eat. Sleep".

    So I would suggest that you get such a "hunting toy" (or make one) and every morning before you go out, put Winston in a different room (so he doesn't stress or interupt the play) and really play with the cat until he is exhausted and then feed him, hopeful he will then sleep for more of the day (if you decide to seperate the cat and dog for the day you could put some of the cats food in a kong or treat ball for extra entertainment).
    And before bed time do this again so that he is ready to sleep during the night.

    So it's basically similar to what you would do with a dog, exercise them more and give them more stuff to do. Try to look at what you are currently doing and think about if you are meeting all of the cats natural instincts and needs.

    Hopefully that helps :)
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Great advice from 648117!! I love "My Cat From Hell" - and when I read your post, I too was going to ask if you've ever watched that show - that guy is great!! Sounds like you have a young cat getting into trouble, just like a puppy would - and true, it's causing your dog a lot of stress. Play with that cat and wear it out! Do remember tho, cats are nocturnal - the 'getting into trouble' at night comes as no surprise. Maybe try to "kitty-proof" your house as much as you can, at least for the time being. And I'm with others - if there's a way to separate them when you're gone or at night, at least for the time being, it will give your dog some peace and let him relax. Constantly being stressed is no way to live.

    I'm curious - you said your dog never was dog-reactive before, but now is starting to be. How are you sure it's due to the cat? Maybe it's because of the stress of the cat - or maybe it's coincidence. I'd really start working on his reactivity when out on walks, etc (doing counter-conditioning, desensitization, etc -maybe you are, you didn't say) and try to keep it at a minimum , rather than waiting and hoping that with the maturing of 'kitty' and the fading out (hopefully) of kitty's destructive ways, so will go the way of your pup's reactivity. I wouldn't bank on it being temporary (altho hopefully for all of your sakes' it will be) - I'd assume it's a problem in and of itself and start working on it immediately.
    southerngirl likes this.
  9. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Re: the cat -- there are a lot of food-dispensing toys and contraptions for cats available now, and I have a friend who has a multi-cat household who swears by them. You can direct the cat's energy to something or let him decide where to put his energy :-) so dedicated playtime for the cat (with a 'fishing pole' type toy or a laser toy) plus making him hunt for his kibbles can really help ease the situation.

    I agree with Jackienmutts and would start work on the reactivity right away. Are you familiar with BAT (Grisha Stewart)?
    Mutt, southerngirl and Dlilly like this.
  10. Linda A Experienced Member

    I have both dogs and a cat. Since cats are nocturnal is no surprise to hear about the night time happenings at your house. LOL! I found the best thing is to keep the cat as busy as possible during the day. We have things now so that all three come to bed with me and are good for the night.
  11. Dlilly Honored Member

    I saw a while ago on… the APDT (I *think*) a video of how to introduce your new dog to your cat. I think you should try finding a video like that, so your dog has a good meeting with the cat. And you should try some BAT!

    Shiloh will 'correct' of try to play with the cats when they try to get on the table, into the trash, or near her food bowl. :rolleyes: My cats just learned to avoid her. Shiloh doesn't hurt them so it isn't a big deal. Just thought I'd let you know that Shiloh can be reactive towards the cats, I just did a lot of BAT with her so it isn't a problem anymore.
  12. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Thanks for all the answers! I'll definitely watch that show.

    I'm absolutely new to the cat world, and I guess that cats are very different. I got him some of those toys, the Cat It "eco" toys (he seems to like the material) but he plays a bit with me and then he gets bored. He bores very easily, I guess, he's very young. I'll get his one of those food-dispensing toys, then, for when he's alone.

    I'm working on Winston's reactivity, since I don't know if it's caused by the changes in the household or not. I also got him a full blood test and urine test just in case it's caused by something non-behavioural, but it came out fine. I use a method that, as far as I've researched, is BAT, I think.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  13. Anneke Honored Member

    Young cats can be more destructive than puppy's! :D
    I have had one cat that would absolutely destroy my house when I was out. Plants were thrown from window-stills, curtains were torn from the windows, newspapers were shredded:mad: The good news is, as they grow older, they sleep more:D
    But yes giving the cat a lot of toys is a good thing. And they don't have to be expensive. My last cat's favorite toy was a ball made of tinfoil(the kind you use in the kitchen).
    U can make lots of toys yourself, with stuff you have around the house.
    Take a look here: http://petsfurkeeps.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/cheap-creative-fun-homemade-cat-toys/
    Or google home made cattoys.
    A place where your cat can get up high is also a good thing. One of my cats used to sleep on top of my refrigerator.
    I never locked up my young cats, but thinking back, that would have been better for my nights:D So yes locking the cat in the bathroom would be a good idea.
    I kept a spraybottled with water at hand to "correct" bad behaviour, like scratching the furniture. They hate water, so I sprayed them when I caught them doing something I didn't want them to do. I have scratchpoles, but none of my cats ever used them:rolleyes: One used the doormat to sharpen her nailes, the other(the one I still have) uses the carpeting on the stairs( so now a corner is all raggity)
    As with dogs being consistent is key. Cats do learn and can be taught to do things. But they are way more stubborn than dogs.

    Nothing comes to mind when I think about the stress that Winston has, though. I would have to see what happens myself, to think of something.
    The only thing I can think of, is to try to keep him from "correcting " the cat. You have to show him that you will handle it and it is not his job.
    We have always had cats and dogs and it has never been a problem here. Although Jinx thought Balou was a great toy to play with, treating him like the stuffed toys she has:eek: But my Balou has grown up with dogs and speaks dog(I swear he does!!) He uses a nose bite to make it clear when Jinx goes too far. Now, after three years together, they sleep together and groom each other and play together.
    But I guess if Balou was a lot younger(he's 19 this month) there would be a lot more trouble:D Fortunately he is not as active as he used to be and avoids Jinx when she wants to chase him.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  14. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I asked around in a cat group and they also gave me very good ideas. I always keep a spray bottle on hand but it hasn't done much to correct some behaviours. Luckily it's worked for many others :).

    Winston is still a bit nervous around the cat (being used to Holden chasing and biting him) and Holden still sometimes chases him when he doesn't want to be chased. But so far, it's been getting better. I still need some furniture (I hope my dad can make some, or that I can make some low budget furniture with... cardboard or something. I have no tools :( ). Holden likes Winston (he even tried to groom him today), but he is just soooo bad at communicating. He got separated from the litter at less than 30 days of age we think.

    Winston has gotten better with the reactiveness. Still, we had an episode a few days ago that I think will be a big setback :(. A group of three (unleashed) dogs started chasing and barking at Winston. Owners nowhere to be seen, of course. I tried to maneuver him so the dogs would be on the other side, but being three barking dogs, I failed miserably and one of the dogs even nipped him. So I shouted at them and for some reason it worked (usually it does nothing lol), but he probably remembers the bad experience. He behaved very well during the episode, though.

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