- the cat's 'top dog' habit of getting everyone to wait on him by meowing
- the family's habit of jumping up to open the door the second the cat cried
- Koda's habit of pacing and moving on hearing the cat cry because she anticipated family/pack movement
Monday, 3 June 2013
Cat a Catalyst for Doggie OCD
An interesting case when pet sitting this week.
I was caring for a pair of dogs; Koda, a 3 year old German Shepherd bitch, her older companion Bella and the family cat, Jasper. When introduced to the pets I noted Koda's obsessive behaviour around the cat - following him, licking him, whining and pacing.
My assessment was there was a specific event which had conditioned Koda to act this way as every evening a 'ritual' kicked off. Jasper would announce his arrival and demand to be let in by meowing continuously outside the terrace doors until one of the family got up to let him in. He was very persistent in this so someone would jump up the minute his calling started. The cat would come in and Koda in turn would pant, pace and whine – until the cat went out again.
The trouble is this was not just once a night - it was repeated for the whole evening. Jasper would meow to come in then demand to go out, cry to come back in, then demand to go out again, and on and on the whole night. And just as the family reacted to the cat's meow - so in turn Koda reacted by starting her obsessive behaviour. The family would tell Koda to calm down but that had no effect which meant evenings – or any time the cat was around - were very unsettled.
The family had thought Koda's obsessive behaviour around the cat was because she loved him. In fact it was that Koda had become 'conditioned' by the cat's meow. In her world the meow = her pack moving = she has to move too. But she didn't know why she was moving and so was constantly confused and anxious. This resulted in her obsessing over the cat until it went out once more.
The irony is that it wasn't really Jasper causing Koda's distress – it was the family's reaction to Jasper's demands which made Koda repeatedly go into a hyper state.
The way to solve this is to deal with the root PROBLEM (family's reaction to the cat) rather than SYMPTOM (Koda's distress). Telling Koda to be calm will never work - if calm is wanted then that is what needs to be demonstrated.
Surprisingly it is relatively easy to restore calm starts by letting Jasper know he can no longer dominate the whole household! In future the cat meowing at the door had to be COMPLETELY IGNORED. Not only should no one open the terrace door, but the curtains should be closed (the cat would give up quicker if he could not see anyone inside). Meanwhile Koda had to be encouraged to lie quietly and not be allowed to pace even when the cat cried. And only when Koda was calm should she be touched or praised.
3 habits are being broken here:
For a night or two the cat might continue to call, but once he fails to get anyone to open the door he will learn if he wants to come in he must use the rear of the house just like the rest of the pack.
Changing behaviour in this simple way will get results otherwise:
'If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you always got'.
This blog is for all devoted dog owners who want to do the right thing for their fur pal. To find out why you don't get told the trut...
Having taken the opportunity to see my relatives in Perth wanted to visit Rottnest Island. As you probably know, Rottnest is famous for its ...
I’m back pet sitting one of my regular fur families, this time for nearly a month. There’s Jack, an 8 year old cattle dog/Kelpie mix. Mag...
There are plenty of pet minders…. a nd then there’s Perfect Pet Sitter. We mix love and care for your pets with a professional approach...
Perfect Pet Sitter cares for every type of dog - and I love it when we meet smaller breeds that have been integrated into a world where t...
If you’ve read any of Perfect Pet Sitter’s references you’ll see clients confirming again and again that our 24/7 services (‘Live-in’ or ‘H...
At Perfect Pet Sitter we care for your pets as you would. For example, when living-in and minding our clients dogs we walk them daily. Exer...
For those lucky enough to know a well trained Rhodesian Ridgeback, descriptions of them might include calm, deeply loyal & independentl...
Perfect Pet Sitter is in Wollstonecraft, on the Lower North Shore, caring for a most adorable and cheeky little puppy, Audrey, a black Spa...
Before this worrying Blog, if you have come to Perfect Pet Sitter and are looking for the very finest 24/7 dog care anywhere - be sure to h...