Whole Dog Journal's Blog August 29, 2012

A Bad Influence

Posted at 12:44PM - Comments: (10)

Not two weeks ago, I posted a piece about the possibility that competition among the dogs in my “pack” had encouraged my dog Otto to develop previously unseen swimming and fetching skills. Here is the flip side: An un-socialized, formerly feral dog who I am fostering seems to have inspired both Otto AND Tito the Chihuahua to start chasing my cats off my property!

Otto has never chased my cats. Tito has, occasionally, but he’s the same size as my cats, and if they stand their ground, he halts in mid-charge and seems to pretend that he was in the middle of something else, like trying to remember his cell phone number. But suddenly, with the arrival of a mid-sized foster dog who has no qualms about chasing the cats, both Otto and Tito have decided that the activity *is* great fun. And I’m having trouble convincing one of my kitties to come home (from the far side of my fences) at all.

If I hear the sound of thundering paws across my back deck, I can step outside quickly and Otto, at least, will immediately change course and run for the house. Whoops! Sorry! If I catch Tito in the act, however, he persists in chasing the cat in question, in full hysterical Chihuahua cry, even if I’m running right behind him threatening his life. Only after the cat is over the fence will he turn around and face the charges, albeit defensively and without a shred of remorse. And the foster dog – well, as a former feral, he’s already got it all figured out. Sit pretty as long as the humans are around, but if they are busy inside the house, it’s on, kitties!

For now, it’s all about management. I have had to more closely monitor the location of all the dogs than ever before, and make sure that the three dogs are never all together in the backyard unsupervised at the same time. And at night, when the cats are most active (especially now, at the tail end of a hot summer), I’m crating the foster dog, Tito is sleeping inside, and only Otto – the most reliably cat-friendly dog – is free to wander the backyard with the cats.

So far, this is the only naughty thing my dogs have picked up from the foster dog, but it’s enough! I’m curious, though: Am I alone in this? Have one of your guest dogs ever taught, encouraged, or inspired your dog to behave badly?

Comments (10)

I am new to yor site. I hope this will help me with my liitle dog Dusty. We lost my husband and very soon after had to have our 10 yr old to sleep. Dusty 2 and I are VERY close.
My question is he won't leave me alone and has gotten so close that it has made me believe I am doing something wrong. Do our dogs pick up on what is going on and become so attached that it starts effecting them emotionally also?

Posted by: Dustysmama | September 10, 2012 6:05 AM    Report this comment

Face the charges with no remorse after his life is threatened? Therein lies the problem. When training dogs with positive reinforcement one certainly needs to work the dog in many locations and around many distractions, including the distraction of other dogs. :)

Posted by: K9 | September 8, 2012 11:07 AM    Report this comment

I think once dogs learn something is FUN then it is game on! And what could be more fun than chasing cats?!
I have a rescued Boston (Rocky) that was intitally indifferent to my cats--until the day that he shook a toy in one of the cat's (Splash) faces and invited a romp. Spalsh said 'HIss, Growwll--I don't do DOG games!". Rocky said--"Ohhh, those were cool sounds--do them again!!" (and promptly jammed the toy in Splash's face again). She took off, Rocky ran after and that was the start of the "cat chasing game". My other dog, Sasha--a Sheltie/Shepherd mix, who never actually chased cats before but sometimes "herded" and cornered them then held them down with a paw, now often joins in the chase (but never initiates it).
What's more--if the cats ignore the dogs and refuse to make eye contact of run, then the dogs leave them alone--only if the cats react do the dogs chase. The cats don't SEEM to enjoy being chased but then again, they don't always run so I have to wonder....
I do think they learn from each other--absolutely yes--just like kids!

Posted by: PJKutscher | September 4, 2012 6:59 PM    Report this comment

We had a stray, a Walker Hound come see in the middle of the night trailing behind a broken lease or chain or whatever it was that the dog was being tried up to.I have a female mix breed about 100 Lbs. The 2 dogs got along famously. The walker hound was my neighbors and it was all the time escaping his domain. This went on for 3 years. One day I asked the neighbor if he would just give me the dog if he didn't want it anymore so one day he did. Now we have had this dog as our own for about 7 wonderful months until a very bad thing happened. We live on a busy road on a 5 acre walnut orchard so there's plenty of room to roam. I would let both dogs out at night to roam, our mix breed always came back but not the other right away. This new dog has been influencing my mixed breed to go off property and get in trouble. I had to go find them. One night mine came back but the walker hound did not. At 5 in the am I went looking for her and found her across the street on the side of the road. I thought she had been hit by a car and was dead. I called her name and she looked up. She had been hit by a car and it broke her back. I had to take her to the vet and put her to sleep...It broke my heart. So yes other dogs can influence your supposedly trained dog. Do NOT take it for granted...they are dogs and they will be influenced if left unsupervised. It was a very hard lesson that will NEVER be made again.

Posted by: Drizzt | September 4, 2012 5:25 PM    Report this comment

my bel shep has always been one to get herding when people try to leave, the past year, my pom rescue has picked up that bad behavior and it's really a pain...his attention span is not that of the sheps and he does not have a down-stay nearly as long has hers.

Posted by: 4liz2 | September 4, 2012 2:38 PM    Report this comment

I recently brought a new Cairn terrier into my household. He is two and littermate of my youngest. He barks vociferously at thunder...suddenly my 7 yr old Cairn who has never, ever seen any need to react to thunder is shaking, panting and trembling. Learn from each other - absolutely!
(He also taught all three of my other dogs to crawl under a fence).

Posted by: Karen M | September 4, 2012 2:29 PM    Report this comment

"...trying to remember his cell phone number..."

Too funny, cute image.

Posted by: Carolyn M | September 4, 2012 1:21 PM    Report this comment

In the other direction, my dog taught my brother's dog to steal biscuits while she was staying with them. They used to keep the biscuit box on the kitchen floor and "Shiloh" never touched them, but would gladly take one when offered. When my dog Becca visited for a few days, my brother noticed that Shiloh often came into the livingroom carrying a biscuit. At first he thought that Shiloh was just carrying it around, but then surreptitiously watched what was happening in the kitchen. Becca would take a biscuit and eat it in the kitchen, then Shiloh would take one and carry it to the living room. Needless to say, the biscuit box moved up to the shelf after that.

Posted by: hg | September 4, 2012 1:06 PM    Report this comment

Absolutely! I moved to an apartment in the country where the landlady's collie was outside most of the time and it chased cars and buses. My border collie quickly learned to chase cars and buses also, thinking this was a great new game.

It took me a long time and a lot of hard work to dissuade him from chasing vehicles, but he never got over the desire to do it and spent most of his outdoor time on a leash after that, till we moved somewhere else where we could take hikes in the woods where there were no vehicles.

Posted by: Gentlelake | September 4, 2012 11:33 AM    Report this comment

I think what you've done so far is brilliant. Perhaps in transition you might try a 50' long line for foster dogs, giving them some freedom, but still being able to 'connect' with whatever correction is needed. I love my long line for many reasons, especially while hiking in unfamiliar territory. Hope this helps.

Posted by: Bonnie B | September 4, 2012 10:32 AM    Report this comment

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