Boxer Crazy

Behavior and Training => Good Manners => Topic started by: Rubidawg on July 25, 2013, 11:33:27 PM

Title: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: Rubidawg on July 25, 2013, 11:33:27 PM
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.  :dizzy2: 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 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.
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: 3BOXERS on July 26, 2013, 02:01:41 AM
I am glad she is getting to be out more. The guy on "my cat from hell" has some good suggestions for cats. 
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: whitepupzoe on July 26, 2013, 07:37:38 AM
I am so glad to see that things are improving! Keep up the good work!  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: Eilene on July 26, 2013, 10:12:56 AM
 :thumbsup:Sounds like you already made progress
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: BoxerWB on July 26, 2013, 10:28:25 AM
 :thumbsup:  Awesome to hear about their progress! And very cool to learn that Bauer can be relaxed AND a doof, so you didn't have to choose between them  :yes:

I know it is still early, but how is Kitty's litterbox behavior doing with these changes?
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: Rubidawg on July 26, 2013, 10:50:52 AM
We added a 2nd box a while ago, and she's only gone outside of it a couple of times. So, it's been getting better for quite some time. However, since opening up and giving her more space, she's not had any "accidents" (yet - knock on wood). I think she likes being able to go room to room. She's hardly ever in the other room except to eat and go to the box. I should probably take her food and put it somewhere else - maybe in the bathroom - so she has a room to poop in, a room to relax in and a room to eat in, now that she's adjusting pretty well.
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: BoxerWB on July 26, 2013, 05:01:29 PM
You could always put her bowl in the room w/the big window - "Dinner and a Show"  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: 3BOXERS on July 29, 2013, 07:05:10 PM
Maybe try builting some shelves on the wall for her to climb up. Then you could put her food up on the top one.
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: whitepupzoe on October 15, 2013, 03:04:35 PM
Dawn how is Bauer doing with the cat? Any improvements?
Title: Re: Settling Down - Cat Chasing Work
Post by: Rubidawg on October 15, 2013, 03:21:10 PM
LOL It's a process. ;) We've had 3 sessions with the trainer, then classes started back up and I'm traveling like a mad-woman, that I've not had her back. I keep in touch with her and update her on everything we're doing and we are definitely showing improvement. He goes over to visit Kitty, who now comes up to the baby gate and whines....ALOT! So, he will sometimes come up and lay down and watch her or will sometimes just stand there and watch her. Occassionally, he gets a bit overexicted and looks like he wants to pounce on her and jump the gate, but he is responding much better (snapping out of it, so to speak) when we call him off. He's learning to just calm down in general, and it's showing in his classes at the club now too. The auto-down is great for when he starts to "stress up" which helps with ALOT of things we work on, not just chasing the cat.

It is weird how Kitty is wanting to come out more. I don't know if it's a sign of feeling a bit more comfortable around him or if she's just wanting to be around us more or what. She's come out a few times when I've been out with him, and rubbed noses with Rubi...then hisses and runs away. lol She still reacts to him sometimes, so it's not at a point where they can be together without barriers, but it's getting there.