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New BC Introduction to Resident Cats

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We are the proud new home to a 2.5 year old border collie rescued from the local Animal Control about two weeks ago. Ruger is a very calm boy; surprisingly the calmest dog at the shelter, sitting quietly at the front of the kennel while all sorts of mayhem transpired around him. We immediately knew he was the one and have been so pleased with him. He is the perfect blend of playfulness and tranquility and recognizes there is a time and place for both.


The rest of our household consists of two cats (both 11 years old) and an African Gray Parrot and Blue and Gold Macaw. We also have our daughter and 2-year old granddaughter living with us. He has adjusted quite well with our granddaughter. He does bounce around and tries to herd her (not obssessively and never with any contact) and she thinks it's about the most fun a kid could have on this earth. Whenever he is in herding mode with her he picks up a toy and keeps it in his mouth while they are romping. I think he might do this so he won't accidentally nip her. On walks she is able to hold the leash without incident while he calmly walks by her side. She is "his girl." We walk at least 2x a day for 30-45 minutes and have a 30-60 minute play/training session.


The parrots were never any adjustment for him. They are both self-confident birds and walk right up to him. The African gray would like him to be his girlfriend. Ruger is more likely to try to get away than be aggressive with them. We do make sure all his encounters with the granddaughter and birds are well supervised.


The cats are taking a little longer to adjust to him. He began by staring at them (obsessively) and would chase if they ran. We have one that is to the point where she ignores him; he still keeps an eye on her but not quite so intently. The other cat still isn't so sure about him which seems to intrigue him.


We've been segregating them for most of the day and then allowing them to have contact a couple of hours while supervised. We let him give them the "stink eye" for about 10 minutes and then we use the "enough" command and make him settle on his mat; which he does for 10-15 minutes and then tracks them down again. At this point it doesn't go beyond the staring and the cats don't seem to mind as long as he keeps his distance. I noticed this morning that one of them swatted him on the nose so they will defend themselves and they do have several places of retreat where he can't/won't get them.


Does this seem to be the right approach? Thanks for any advice.

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I've found it difficult to stop the staring unless you're willing to correct it *every* time, so if the dog is staring at the cat, but not pestering, I just let things be for the most part (e.g., if the cat is in my lap and the dog is staring because if the dog were to try to escalate by nipping or something I'm right there to correct it--sometimes I think the dogs' behavior bothers *me* more than it does the cat). I do correct for any attempt at chasing, and my cats have a gated room they can go into where the dogs can't follow (they actually have two, as my housemate's room is also gated off from the dogs). You might want to try giving him something to chew (kong, cow hoof, something similar) and when he decides to track a cat down, just call him back and give him the special item. That might mitigate some of the need he has to keep checking them out.


Where other animals are concerned (especially smaller animals who could be injured or killed by a dog), I do not hesitate to have a "come to Jesus" meeting with an overly aggressive dog (one who really wants to chase). Ruger doesn't sound as if he's that type of dog, fortunately. I do consider a lot of staring and following around to be harrassment, though, and so would prevent him from doing too much of that. But some of that also depends on the cat's personality. My 16-year-old girl doesn't appreciate being bothered by the dogs, so I am much more vigilant about making them leave her alone. The younger cat actually enjoys the dogs and hangs out with them, tries to break up squabbles, comes out in the field to interfere when I'm working the dogs on sheep, etc. He is very happy to correct (with claws) an obnoxious dog, and although I don't leave it up to him to "train" the dogs to leave him alone, I know that he won't get scared and run and trigger the prey drive in a dog, so I am a little more laissez-faire when it comes to him and the dogs.



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Thanks for the input, Julie. I've tried redirecting, but have not yet found anything that absolutely trips Ruger's trigger. He's not that much into food, treats, chewing, or toys (except with the frisbee outside). Something more tasty like the cow hoof might work though. He loves affection, but I'm extremely hesitant to reward him for the unwanted behavior. If he follows the Enough command and then settles on his mat, I love on him some for that and hope he doesn't link it to the earlier stare down. And, like you, I think the incessant staring bothers me much more than it does the cats. He never pesters them and only chases if they run (which has become very infrequent). We haven't had to correct for chasing since last Thursday night. He is very sensitive to correction so it doesn't take much volume to get his attention and we are trying to be careful not to go overboard in our tone.


The gated room is a fabulous idea (like, why didn't I think of that -- accompanied with the V-8 head bang).


Our daughter and granddaughter are away for the week, so we are trying to get as much of this business accomplished as we can before their return. Once the 2-year old is in the vicinity, Ruger's focus dive bombs and she thinks she needs to get involved in his training. Couple that with the cats' tendency to run from the toddler and you end up with a very unproductive correction situation.


Thanks again.



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Hi Joni,


11 year old cats and a young dog only mean one thing. Scratches on the dogs nose until he learns that 5 of a cats 6 ends are razor sharp After he learns that no problem.


Jin has a two 3 year old black cat (Sebastion the Monter)and an 12 yr old border cat (Zoot). He leaces Zoot alone but they do sleep with each other sometimes with Jin holding Zoot's tail. On the other hand Monter and Jin are playmates and it's the funnies thing you've ever seen. I don't think you have any worries.


As for corrections and such. You'll you find you can whisper to Ruger most of the time. Yes they are sensitive but you can also yell at them once in awhile to show your disapproval. How you reward behavior depends. If Jin breaks boundary then returns on recall I have no choice but to reward him even thought he knows he broke boundary and did something wring. Prob is you have to reward the good behavior.

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Thanks for the response, Ranger. Yesterday was Ruger's first day "home alone." He did very well, except I'm virtually certain he slept on the sofa. But not really a big deal -- I only care that he doesn't do it while we're there and that he KNOWS he's not supposed to. I find the sneakiness just a wee bit charming. He was happy to see us at when we returned from work and we had a lovely long walk and frisbee session.


The cats were shut in the master bedroom/bathroom for the day. We let them out and things seem to be calming down between the three of them. I noted much more caution on Ruger's part -- he was giving them a lot more personal space. No doubt from the whack to the nose he took in the morning. That's what everyone loves about BCs -- they don't take long to learn.


Thanks to all for the treasure trove of info here, makes this learning process much easier for us lowly humans who take MUCH longer to learn a lesson than our K9 friends.

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Joni! :rolleyes:


Lol, just came from another discussion about BCs and cats. Short version, please do NOT allow him to stare at the cat. Period. Every moment he's giving that cat the "stink eye," he's building intensity. A motionless, staring border collie is a border collie priming himself to DO SOMETHING.


Redirect probably won't work, either. I'd simply recommend a solid, absolute NO. No kitties, no how, no way, ever. The end. It's a lot less confusing to the dog. I mean, he won't get why he's allowed to stare at the cats some of the time, but not whenever he wants. So just teach him kitties are off-limits and he'll ultimately be happier for it. So will you!


He sounds like a lovely boy, so it's just a matter of establishing this one boundary. Good luck! :D

Cheers ~



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