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Barking at the Cats

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by little soprano, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. little soprano

    little soprano Forums Regular

    Oct 4, 2013
    So Cosmo has gotten SO much better with his barking. During the day. He has pretty much become bullet proof, except when it comes to the cats he's lived with since he came home (a year ago next month eeeep), walking down the stairs at night.

    During the day I can stay on top of it more, especially since we finally learned stay among the LCP chaos. Before he starts to run after them I just tell him to stay, and he won't budge. And also during the day the second he goes to run to the bottom of the stairs (he's gated to avoid heavy stair usage), I can call him to a front (abruptly), and he will front pretty much on the spot. I have used a can with pennies previously when he used to get so intense I couldn't get his attention (we also used this for no-no behaviors, that he needed to be afraid of i.e. chewing on wires). And if a quiet or a front didn't work before he learned stay, he'd get a short time out in the bathroom.

    Sometimes during the day he can have really bad days, and I do attribute to him being on house rest since practically March? So I can't blame him entirely. And on bad days, I can tell him time out (when I give up lol) and he just barks his little furry butt into the bathroom.

    Night time is definitely way worse. The cats are running around like crazy maniacs, naturally, and I can't see them before he does. He his crate trained and loves his crate, and 90% of the time he goes into his crate on his own at night. Most of the time he is shut in the bedroom, where he is silent, but when he is out and about downstairs (we live on the lower level of my BF's mothers split level house), he can become a problem. I normally let him stay out with me before I turn in for bed, but lately he's gotten so bad, I end up just putting him in the bedroom after 3-4 times.

    I've deconditioned him to the rats making noise, youtube/computer noises, the tv, BARKING DOGS on recordings, etc. Yet I can not, for the life of me, get him to just stop barking at the darn cats at night.

    I wish I could exhaust him enough so he would freaking sleep throughout the night, but at the current time his other leg is starting to get progressively worse, and he isn't getting surgery for another month or so (finances).

    Does anyone have any tips on how to deal with this? Deconditioning him to most things was easy, but I can not get it with the cats. I have even gotten to the point of having my BF sit at the top of the stairs at night, with a cat picking her up and putting her on the floor (to simulate them jumping off their cat trees at night, running around etc.), and he is just not fooled.

    Any tips?
  2. Mom2Melli

    Mom2Melli Forums Enthusiast

    Oct 2, 2013
    Central California
    My dogs react to my cats when they run, jump, and such. Separation and lots of non-angry disapproval help. My house has many baby gates. Enough NO's and they have learned this sound or that sound is normal more or less.
  3. Jess041

    Jess041 Forums Enthusiast

    Feb 2, 2012
    Houston, Texas
    Shelties are a breed that can be very reactive to motion, especially if they have a strong herding instinct. This includes cats running across the room. My dog is 2.5 years old and she's been living with my 2 cats since I brought her home at 10 weeks, but she still feels the need to chase them if they dart across the room. Luckily she never barks at them and never actually catches them and would never hurt them if she did, but I feel bad for the poor kitties. I can call her off and she stops, but I've found the best way to protect the poor kitties is to use baby gates to give them "safe zones".

    I think as far as the barking goes, it's a reaction and you have to deal with that reactivity the same way you would anything else. I don't have any specific links or articles, but I'm sure others have some literature or experiences they can share. I think a lot of it is impulse control.

    P.S. Despite Missy's cat chasing, the kitties still love on her when she's calm. They'll walk up and rub on her, she doesn't know what to do when they do this so she just stands there.
  4. Watson's Mom

    Watson's Mom Premium Member

    Mar 24, 2012
    Western New York
    I wish I had some words of advice for you, but I don't.:razz: Watson lives with 3 cats. He barks and chases one. Buddy Tom is the only one who runs and I think it sets off his "I'm a dog and I have chase things that run" instinct and them it is coupled with his "I'm a sheltie I have to bark" thing. So Buddy Tom is the only one of the three that gets chased and barked at. The other two get snuggles and ear baths. How long has Cosmo lived with the cats and is the cat running FROM Cosmo or because he's just a jerk that tears around the house (that's Buddy Tom- he's just a jerk that runs around shaking his head like some invisible beast is chasing him through the house) maybe in time the cats will just chill out? Watson doesn't really torment him since he weighs 19# and the cats about 15 and fully armed... they handle it themselves. If the cat says "nope enough" he will turn around and jump on the dog. No one gets hurt but message sent and that ends the barking for a little bit anyway.

    I'll be interested to see the responses to this one.
  5. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    I also have 2 cats with 3 male shelties...

    I also agree with putting the gates up to make the cats feel like they can get away to get some peace and quite. My cats are Persians and older do not do a great deal of running around.

    I guess my only suggestion is the 'NO BARK' command... the boys have become pretty bullet proof with that as they know no matter what is making them bark they need to QUIET!

    I know they have collars that vibrate... not sure if that would work with all the coat that shelties carry. I have never used it. In this video it shows what a modern E-collar is how it can be used in a gentle way. The E-collar I use are not shock collars.

  6. little soprano

    little soprano Forums Regular

    Oct 4, 2013
    Well they mostly just play (we have two cats). He will charge at the stairs, but there is a puppy gate. And the cats aren't bothered by him for the most part. He normally brings toys over to them to play, and right now he has two cats on top of him. Both cats have been here before even I moved in. And Cosmo came after me :) I've fixed most of the things that set him off. And he is the most WONDERFULLY behaved dog in the world, especially since he is my first. He heels so well off leash squirrels don't matter at all to him. But a darn cat does. One cat is nearing 20 (either 18 or 19, somewhere around there-she's the crazy one LOL) and another is 5 or 6 I think. The younger one is lazy, the older one is a nut.

    He will herd them occasionally, but it's really only them walking down the stairs (their cat boxes and food/water are in the basement through a cat door that Koko-the aussie can't fit through). Cosmo will not go downstairs either cause we made it a "scary place" when he was a puppy lol. I shook the can when he went to sneak through the door on the basement door (cat door) as a puppy, and that was the last time he's EVER gone near it lol.

    So they do have their places to go, along with two large cat trees, and other places blocked from dog access. He really isn't that bad during the day, but at night, it seems all the pent up energy gets released then. And instead of "sneaking illegal zoomies", he gets riled up by the cats. Grr. I might just have to go back to crating him at night until he learns it's not okay. Though the cats drive me nuts at night too, so maybe part of it is him just wanting some sleep. Which I fully understand haha.

    He isn't actually as bad with the barking when the gate is down, but we are trying to limit stair access. He can traverse them like a pro for only having one good leg, but it's not good for him. When the gate isn't there, he will go investigate the cats, instead of barking. Same with things that startle, he's always been one to check things out instead of bark...

    Darn dog thinks fireworks are fun, and that thunderstorms=means potty time, but can't stop barking at cats lol. SMH.

    He doesn't even bark at most things lol. I don't mind alert barking at people in the driveway and people who enter the house and startle him. Thats okay. And he will also front pretty much instantly when I say it, but I just wish he'd stop it all together at night. It's quite obnoxious, but he thinks its fun as can be ;)
  7. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    Thought of another idea...

    Have you tried clicker training?
    If every time he hears that clicker and gets a reward for coming to you and sitting quietly he gets a treat! Maybe you could try that? Distraction sometimes helps with a positive reinforcement!:biggrin2:
  8. Caro

    Caro Moderator

    Jan 14, 2009
    Canberra, Australia
    I have a similar problem. Tully is a very high drive sheltie - movement gets her very excited, and of course small fluffy things moving fast is extra exciting. It's been really hard to get her to back off from the cats when they are trying to play. So the rule here is - she can play with one cat at a time but can't interfere when the cats are playing together.

    If, like my Tully, it's an instinctual behaviour it's a lot harder to manage. So the sorts of methods used to deal with regular behavioural issues don't work that well. It really is a matter of desensitising, on a continual basis. I say continual because if it's instinct it's hard to extinguish completely.

    So what I do did with Tully is put her on the couch and then put an x-pen around the couch so she couldn't interfere. Then I play with the cats so they were running around like crazy (every try the Da Bird - best cat toy ever). She's really good now when I play with them, and okay when they chase, but when they're wrestling she only manages to hold back half a minute. It needs regular re-enforcing but it's a whole heap better. And at least with the rule of playing with one cat at a time she still gets to play (she much prefers cats to dogs).

    If you ever watch Jackson Galaxy he dealt with a cat chasing dog using clicker training and baby gates, I think you'd need two people to manage it.

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