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Categories: Basic Puppy

Q. I live in an apartment and my new puppy is obsessed with my cat, can you help?
I am writing to you rather spur of the moment here. I have not looked too much at your website as I don't have a ton of time to do much more research on this matter. I've read a lot of Cesar Milan books/online articles and I've watched some of his DVDs. I know the basics on how to be a pack leader but I am finding it harder to put into practice with a 3 month old puppy than I thought...

I got my dog at 12 weeks of age, he is a small shepard/husky mix (13 lbs at 3.5 months). This is the first dog of my very own, I grew up with family dogs but my parents were the caregivers. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment with my 7 year old orange tabby cat who is rather large (13 lbs). He is front de-clawed, as I used to have a pet rabbit (passed away a couple months ago at 9 years of age) and didn't want him to accidentally harm the rabbit. My apartment is not tiny (775 sqr feet) but I don't have a house to work with. I am a grad student so I have a flexible schedule but I'm studying for a big exam over the next month so I am rather stressed/busy. But I love this dog and I am committed to making it work... but I need help/advice on my specific situation.

My dog is OBSESSED with my cat. My cat has no fear. He has successfully lived with a dog before (roommate's dog). My cat will play with the dog to an extent but the dog doesn't know that "no means no" when kitty is done playing. Often he will chase the cat around too. What worries me is that my cat just lays on the floor and lets the dog mouth his neck. Like I said "no fear."

I have tried keeping the dog on leash in the house but he doesn't respond to me when I scold him. I pull him back swiftly and say no and he just goes right back at it. The second I turn away he does it again. I do the "hold him down" thing with my hand as a "mouth" and he gets up and does it again after I let go. He is much better when tired and they do coexist peacefully from time to time. The dog is never mean, just playful. I don't want to keep him in the crate while I am home unless I am sleeping (he is good at bedtime...sometimes) because he freaks out really, really bad when in the crate. I don't respond to his freaking out but... I have neighbors.

My dad keeps telling me he is a puppy and will calm down and will respond better when he is a little older... I am just not sure how to handle him and what is best. I'd like a situation specific guide on what to do.

Please help!

A. Hi,

Puppies need to be shown what we expect from them, and it can be a bit challenging. Scolding doesn't work because your puppy is behaving exactly like puppies do. He doesn't know what your rules are yet. You need to manage the environment and spend time building a relationship away from distractions first. I'd highly recommend our 2 puppy videos, Your Puppy 8 Weeks to 8 Months and Living with Your Puppy~Establishing Pack Structure.

I completely disagree with holding a dog down or using a hand to "bite" the dog. While this may work for Cesar on TV, the only thing that comes out of it for most dog owners is that it erodes the relationship between dog and owner. It's also supremely unfair to do this to a puppy who is only behaving the way puppies are programmed to behave. I don't want to bully my puppy into doing as I ask, I want him to WANT to pay attention to me and do as I ask. I find it much easier to control my puppy's environment, work on basics away from distractions and gradually introduce distractions as the puppy becomes more educated in my expectations.

we use an ex-pen, crate and leash at all times in the beginning. I'd also recommend managing the cat's environment too, until you have a better communication system in place with your pup. Here is an article about dogs/cats.

I hope this gives you a place to start.

Cindy Rhodes
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Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet
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The goal of our pack structure training program is to produce a dog that is calm and submissive and a dog that follows the rules of the pack leader. This DVD teaches people how to become a pack leader that their dog respects and loves. Most people are not born pack leaders. In fact, far from it. The majority of dog owners (many who have owned dogs their entire life) simply do not know anything about the instincts that control our dogs or how strong these instincts are in the domestic dog. Oh people may have heard that they need to be a pack leader or they may have heard they need to be an ALPHA with their dog but they do not understand what this really means or how to accomplish it.

The Power of Training Dogs w/ Markers
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Marker training (also called clicker training or operant conditioning) is one of the most profound systems of dog training that I have seen in my 50 years of owning, breeding and training working dogs. In its most basic form, it's a method of communication that is very clear for dogs to understand. Dogs learn the marker language quickly and when they do they thrive in training. The marker system produces dogs that love to train.


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