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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blaze and Boxer the Cat

The infamous "cat door"
Here kitty, kitty!  I just want to meet you...with my teeth!

We have had some exciting things going on and here's one I like to highlight.  Blaze has a more Husky qualities than any of the other dogs.  She is hyper, whiny and has a strong prey drive.  It is this prey drive that she can't be around the cats.  For the past three years, I have been trying everything my little brain can think of to accumulate her with the cats with very little success.  The latest thing I could come up with was putting her in a crate and letting Boxer roam about.  Blaze isn't crate train, she will go in one, but has never been closed in one.  So my mind kept reeling.
 The unsuspecting Boxer
Don't I look scared?
 Finally it dawned on me to tether her.  Bingo!  So I found a hook, attached it to the wall in her corner of the room which is also the furthest from the cat's door.  I leashed and hooked Blaze with a bag full of cheese and began with simple commands, then we moved on to "leave it."  She was so excited with the game and the cheese, she could hardly contain herself!  I wondered for a second or two, whether introducing the cat was a good idea because she was so excited, but I had to at least feel it out.  So I made her sit, while I opened the door to the cats room.  That got her attention.  She was on complete alert, but in an happy way.  She doesn't show any signs of being aggressive, but being an avid hunter, her play would be quite rough and serious for the cats.

 Don't worry, I've got this dog thing covered!
As Boxer began to stir around, I kept telling Blaze to sit.  She was so focused on the doorway, that I had to gently raise her muzzle to get her to sit.  Click and reward.  She took the cheese!!  I couldn't believe it!!  Food means nothing when there are cats around.  So this was a BIG plus.

Well, you would have thought that Boxer and I had rehearsed all of this the night before. Boxer came to the doorway, staying behind the threshold and stayed there.  They both looked at each other, Blaze's body was wiggling like crazy, with her eyes locked on the cat.  I continued to make her sit and she still took the cheese.  This was fantastic!!  After a few minutes, Boxer began grooming himself, not paying any attention, and when I told her to sit again, she actually turned, faced me and sat.  I about fell over.  This was better than I could have expected.

Let's try again, Mom.  This time without the leash!! 
That's when Boxer took his cue and went back in his room and Blaze's excitement began to reach it's peak.  So I realized, I needed to wrap this up before she started bouncing off the walls.  I told her to sit and stay while I closed the door, then took a few more minutes of praise and simple commands before letting her off the leash.  Success!! I thought for sure that her first instinct would be to go to the cat's door and investigate, but instead she followed me around while I was doing happy dances and singing praises to her.  Another big surprise!  It was simply awesome!!

It helped that Blaze's intensity with the cats has died down this past year and both parties are becoming more curious about each other.  I was quite impressed with the entire experience.  Little by little we can take things a step further.  And who knows, Blaze and Boxer may become the best dog and cat friends that a little hyper Husky could ask for!

Dreams are not impossible.  They just take time and a whole lot of cheese!
Did she just say dreams are made of cheese??


Anonymous said...

Good job Blaze! My sister Hannah is the same way around cats...so, we do not own any.

Sarah said...

Great job! Cheese is a wonder food and makes all good things happen :)

Pamela said...

What a great accomplishment for both of you.

Your ability to watch Blaze to make sure she wasn't too aroused was key--even more important than the cheese!

Golden Daily Scoop said...

We agree, cheese is the BOMB!! BOL!

Kootenai's Summit Post said...


Kari in Alaska said...

mmmm cheese

Stop on by for a visit

Wyatt said...

That is a really good plan and good progress too. I would like to try that with our Airedales, we have never dared to have a cat around...

Wyatt's mom

FiveSibesMom said...

That's super great! And cheese sure does work wonders! We have two cats that adopted us - one was a feral that my daughter has worked with and is now ours and the other one was a starving abandoned one who is now chunky and wonderful. Gibson is pretty good when he sees the one...he even goes over to say "hello." The other four...hmmm, not so much...they think it's time to play Chase the Cat. So the cat's stay out front and the Sibes rule the house & yard. So I think this is a wonderful accomplishment you have going on there! Noteworthy of some extra bites of that delectable cheese!

Linda said...

Cheese is such a great attention getter. Although my Husky, Cheyenne, never got over her love of chasing the cats around the house if she got the chance. Didn't have a problem with adult cats, but if I had any kittens in the house, they had to be kept away from her in another secured room.

Good luck with the training.

White Dog Blog said...

What a great first step! Slow and steady. Repeat this a couple of times and then move on to the next step and before you know it everyone will be able to peacably mix. You are guiding the process well.

Emily in Wonderland said...

Good job! You're doing it exactly right! Make being around kitty and ignoring him a positive, rewarding activity for her! She will LOVE to be around kitty because kitty means it's SNACK TIME! (And not kitty snack time either! lol)

I am really lucky in that my cat Toulouse is obsessed with dogs and just LOVES them. Before we had Charlie, Tootie would walk around PetSmart on a leash and socialize with all the dogs there. He's not afraid of anything! Charlie was so nervous when I brought him home, and Tootie so curious, there were no introductions at all. Charlie hopped the baby gate out of the bathroom, then smashed it down like a battering ram when I put him back and he was mixing with the cat right away. I think he didn't know what to make of it, but Tootie is so AGGRESSIVELY FRIENDLY, strolling right up to strange pit bulls and trying to head butt them and give them friendly greetings that Charlie didn't have much of a choice! WE ARE FRIENDS! lol

Amelia is another story. She watches Charlie from high up, even now and just in the last month or so has started sitting on me, next to him on the couch. Their butts touched once. I was so proud!

Now, if Charlie sees a cat outside... that's another story. OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!


KB said...

I am so impressed that you've started to tackle this one. I had a dog, years ago, who had incredible prey drive that he turned toward cats. Since we didn't have a cat, I just kept him away from cats. I never solved it.

Fast forward... now we expose all our young puppies to dog-savvy cats who will not run from them and will protect themselves if a dog behaves in an inappropriate way. This works with a young puppy...

Way to go!!!! Cheese rules.

Kristine said...

Congratulations!! I think this is the best post I have read all week. Go Team Blaze! It helps that Boxer is so dog savvy as well. He knew exactly what needed to be done. Cats are fascinating in that way.

It took us quite a few months before we could relax with the dog and cat in the same room. We still keep a gate up between the floors to give the cat his dog-free zone. It sounds like Blaze's prey drive is even higher than Shiva's so it makes sense that you've had to wait until she was ready. Was this not perfect timing? I am so excited for you!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Well done to you and Blaze:) I hope you have many more successes like this one! Frankie is adamant that our place stay a cat free zone. I think Beryl would be ok but I wouldn't trust Frankie with a tiger!! Just as well I only have small yearning for a cat:)