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Hi

On saturday we picked up our 3yr old Vizsla Fletcher, hes the most wonderful dog and very well trained, the only issue we are having with him is everytime he sees are cat he just goes into his own little world, we have tryed to introduce them a few times having fletch on a lead but hasnt gone well and I think if i didnt have him he would attack her! after they are seperated he will look for her for ages. We are at the moment keeping them apart as we are unsure how to deal with the situation and are afraid that the cat will get hurt.

Thanks

gavin
 

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Does your cat have claws? Jasper was just a small thing when I introduced him to cats and he couldn't have done a lot of damage, but I took heart in the fact that the cat could protect herself if need be. Also, cats are pretty wily and good escape artists. Jasper got a paw across the nose and found a healthy respect for cats.

That being said, introducing cats and dogs can be a long process. You say Fletcher goes into his own world--is he stalking the cat and treating it like prey? Or is he acting as though the cat just might be the best toy ever? Is Fletcher a rescue dog? Do you know his history with cats?

Some steps you might take, as remembered from volunteering at an animal rescue:

1) Keep the dog and cat separate until they can get along peacefully. Do not let them interact outside of controlled situations before this. Make sure the dog has his area (does Fletcher have a crate?) and the cat has her area, complete with food, water, and litter box. This ensures that neither animal has to come in contact with the other unless they want to.

2) Make sure the cat has an escape route. Cats can injure dogs, but cats tend to be the ones that get hurt most. If a cat feels trapped, it can be a very bad thing.

3) Introduce the dog and cat to each other's smells. Take something that will smell very strongly of the cat or dog and put it in the other animal's area, so that they can get used to the smell.

4) With the dog outside, introduce the cat to the dog's area. With the cat outside or in another room, introduce the dog to the cat's area. More smelling will happen here, but again, no face-to-face confrontation.

5) Let the two "meet" each other through a closed door or baby gate. Make sure a person is standing on each side of this barrier. Let them sniff each other through the gate or door, but do not make either one get closer to the barrier if they don't want to. Lots of praise and treats, especially when the dog is calm and the cat is brave! Try feeding them on opposite sides of the door/gate.

6) Finally let them meet with the dog on the leash. Again, all situations need to be tightly controlled until you can be sure that neither animal will hurt the other. Note that a cat that runs from a dog is more likely to incite a chase than a cat that stands her ground, hisses, or swipes at a dog's nose. Gradually increase the amount of the time the animals interact and see each other. Eventually the dog may lose interest in the cat, especially if the cat no longer runs away.

Don't move on too quickly between steps, until you are sure both animals have really mastered each step. If you can teach Fletcher to "Leave it" you can apply it to anything he might want to chase--cats, squirrels, rabbits, etc. Always keep the cat's food and litter box out of reach of the dog. You may never be able to leave them fully alone together if you're not in the house. To that point, you may never be able to have them interact at all, which would be unfortunate, and would require asking some hard questions. Some dogs have very high prey drives, and it's just not physically safe or mentally healthy for either dog or cat in that situation.

Not to sound like a total downer, many cats and dogs can learn to live quite peacefully! But it requires lots of time and patience, especially if neither animal grew up around the other species. If you take it slow and easy, you might eventually have two very happy animals who love to be with each other.
 

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Many dogs and cats get along nicely with each other, but that usually happens when they are raised together. Clearly, Fletcher thinks of your cat as PREY. You might be able to change his thinking, and you might not. Be really, really careful with this situation. If Fletcher hurts your cat, your feelings for him won't be the same. Nevertheless, you can't be mad at a hunting dog for hunting. It would be like getting mad at a bird for singing.

Willie kills chipmunks regularly out in his back yard. He tries for birds. He has also caught squirrels and rabbits. I feel sorry for those critters, but won't allow myself to be mad at Willie for just doing what comes naturally. It's in his blood. Remember, all dogs are predators, and the Vizsla breed in particular was developed to be a supreme hunter.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank for your replys,

Fletches original owners were going through a divorce so he was just ignored and not exercised or fed properly, a lady that trains gundogs brought fletch off them as her friend was there neighbour and persuaded them to sell Fletch so he could be well looked after, the lady that brought him worked hard for a year getting his confidence back up and has trained him superbly for example I can tell him to wait and he would sit there forever until i called him. The reason why she couldnt keep him is because he was to scared of a gunshot and as she has vizslas for working she had to sell him. When we went to visit him she said she was not sure if he had been around cats but as he was so placid and well trained we did not think it would of been a problem. Fletcher has a crate which he loves and rosie (cat) spends nearly all day in my daughters room, I have let them meet eachother but with Fletcher on the lead and he barks at her and is desperate to chase her then after I seperate them Fletch will search for her downstairs as hes not aloud upstairs where she is and he hasnt ever tryed to get up there. Maybe introducing them like I did was wrong? We hope they can live together without Fletcher wanting to chase her even if they dont get on.
 

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Again, please be very careful, Gavin... I'm afraid Fletcher wants to do more than just chase her. He is a hunting dog and he sees the cat as prey. My boy Willie is the same way around cats. I only know this by his reaction when there is a crated cat at the groomer's. The cat might as well be a rabbit or a squirrel. Willie wants at it. He just goes nuts! I do not own a cat, so it's not a problem at home.

This behavior will probably be very difficult to modify, at his age. You might have to settle for managing the behavior, which simply put, means keeping them away from each other on a permanent basis. Bear in mind that Fletcher is not a "bad dog". He is just a natural-born hunter. Frankly, I don't think he deserves to be punished for this behavior.
 

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Gavin,

If your Vizsla has been trained as a bird dog, he has had a training collar on more than once would be my guess.

Dogs get into the "own world" space and that is what a training collar helps with. When you train a gun dog on upland birds, the dog has to be able to stand with birds walking all around, through its legs, standing on its back without moving. Do you think they WANT to do that? No, but good training can an does accomplish that.

The cat is like a bird. Your new Vizsla sees it as prey that puts your dog in "that zone." To break that you need something that tells him to "LEAVE IT" in no uncertain terms.

Never use a training collar unless you get trained yourself on how to use them. They are great tools if used right and terrible if used wrong.

We have two high-powered Vizslas and two cats. They coexist but don't like each other. That is fine. A walk on leash and a cat crosses the path and it is pull hard on the leash with a strong "LEAVE IT" command. This is after thousands of miles of on-leash walks.

Part of the price for having a high-powered hunting dog. A pug sure would be easier. I see folks with these little tea cup dogs and then I look at my energy-packed athletic dogs. I've learned to happily deal with the extra effort.

Good luck and I hope the cat makes it.

Rod aka redbirddog
http://redbirddog.blogspot.com
 

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I have 2 cats and a 13 week old V. He barks and prances around my cats all the time, but you can tell it's all very playful. With your V being a bit older, I guess it's impossible to tell what his intentions are, and you don't want to take any risks.

Have you tried giving your V lots of nice treats when the cat is around? It could build a positive association, and be a yummy distraction.
 
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