I think I've probably posted a million times about Bauer's obsession with the cat. Despite trying to do things right when he was a baby, we ended up in a situation where Kitty only felt comfortable living confined in a tiny guest bedroom, with her litter box and food, not feeling it's safe to ever come out of that room. It was no life for her and with all the pooping outside of the box issues, we considered rehoming her. I hated even thinking that way and refused to let that be the outcome. She is our responsibility and it's our responsibility that we address this problem and not push her out of our home. It wasn't fair to her, and personally, I didn't feel it was fair to Bauer to not try to resolve his obsession - which could lead to a problem down the road, say at an obedience trial and a dog gets loose, runs past a ring he is working in off leash...and there goes Bauer with the thrill of the chase.
So, I contacted a kitty rescue group. Mostly to see what kind of insight they could give me, as I also put alot of the blame on Kitty's obnoxious reactions to Bauer, causing him to be more interested than he was to begin with. But, also, I think a part of me was thinking - if they can't help me fix it, maybe they will help me find a home where she will be happy. Again, I didn't want to think that way, but she was so miserable, begging for our attention, that it just hurt my heart.
I had to FIX it.
From that group, they directed me to a behaviorist. I talked to them, even did an evaluation with Bauer with them. However, I wasn't quite pleased being left in the dark on what happens during their private work sessions with Bauer, that I decided not to go past the eval testing.
I had 2 other behaviorists that I know fairly well, that I then contacted. We had a home visit with one, and a phone consult with the other. Both behaviorists agree, Bauer is just in need of learning to settle down. Once we get him used to settling down, we can then work on the cat. It's a long process, as it requires him changing a behavior he's been so used to for so long, and him and Kitty may never lay on the couch with each other, but our goal is to just allow Kitty in the room.
So, we've been working on default downs for the past 2 weeks. He's learning that settling down and just being on the floor, is just as rewarding as bouncing all over the place and being a doof! LOL We've been working daily (yes, Shawn too!), multiple sessions a day, and between that and switching to raw, we're seeing a total change. He is now learning to relax. Right now, he's laying on the couch, somewhere between sleeping and watching TV. Usually, at this hour, he's running around, attacking Rubi. Going into the bedroom and stealing my things, making me chase him (or trying to atleast, I don't chase him) or just being "busy." He still has his sense of humor, but he's learning that he doesn't have to be "up" constantly.
I've always joked that he has no "off switch" and we actually enjoy his energy to life. He has a way of just making us laugh non-stop, that I looked at that lack of an "off switch" to just being "Bauer. However, we've learned, that having an "off switch" is not at all a bad thing and actually makes HIM happier so he's now constantly "looking" for something to keep him busy.
I'd try to engage with him in either a game of tug, or wrestle, or even mind work games to try to tire him out, but I just didn't have the energy he had to even try to keep up. But, we're seeing the "off switch" come into play and it was really nice at agility today when I could turn that switch on AND off, as needed.....and many times throughout the one hour long class.
And he's learning to bring the things he steals, right back to me! I no longer have to get mad, bribe or try to corner him to return my bra, or makeup kit, or hairbrushes or the latest grab...my purse. I can easily get those items back to me without it being a game. So, he's still got that goofiness.....just learning to make better choices. Which will then help with that whole "chasing the cat and cornering her while I bark my fool head off til mom comes and rescues that black fluffy thing" issue. Kinda the point with this whole "off switch/default down" thing.
Oh, and to help Kitty become more relaxed....we've added more space for her and taken some of his space away. She is now gated off in the hallway between the two guest bedrooms and the bathroom. Bauer still goes over to check her out, but he is redirecting himself, instead of getting wound up. Kitty has taken to the front room, where she can happily lay on the bed and watch the birds from the big giant windows. She's coming out of her shell, so to speak, and is learning to ignore him a bit better as well. Oh, and we bought a cat tree, so she has space to climb - as that was one recommendation the rescue, as well as all 3 consultants suggested. We just got it yesterday (ordered online) and will put it up this weekend. My bet is that she will completely ignore it like she has every single toy or scratch post we've bought in the past, but considering all of the changes going on around here, I may not be surprised if she takes to it easily.
We are finding balance in everything lately. It's nice.