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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 11-16-2012, 12:19 AM
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Hi everyone,

Just a quick status update... George has made huge progress with the cat. He's far less aggressive than I originally thought. My wife panicked when George first lunged after the cat, so we kept them separated ever since. Consequently, I think the cat became the "forbidden fruit" -- much more intriguing to George.

We've been carefully giving the cat and George more time together lately. George still lunges sometimes, but he hasn't bitten the cat. George has one of those big dopey faces, and he's a slobberer, so sometimes the cat ends up with slobber on him after they interact. I initially thought George was biting him, but I no longer thing that's true. He does mouth the cat sometimes, but only with that soft Golden "bite." The cat always defends himself if George gets too close, but George doesn't seem to care.

Most significantly, I've been able to break George's focus on the cat. I've been able to call George away (followed by praise and treats), and I've even gotten him to lay down and stop bothering the cat.

Of course, I still don't leave them alone together. I also have to limit the total amount of time they spend together so as not to put too much stress on the kitty.

Overall, things are going well! George had a ball playing at the dog park the other day. I take him there daily, but we're usually alone. Yesterday he got to run and frolic with three other dogs -- he was in heaven!
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 11-16-2012, 12:50 AM
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Wonderful update! Good boy George.
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Old 11-16-2012, 03:56 AM
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What a great update!
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:57 PM
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How wonderful!
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old 11-29-2012, 01:59 AM
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Hi everyone,

Another update on George! George had a great Thanksgiving. My family had Thanksgiving dinner with a friend who lives about an hour and a half away. My friend lives alone, so I drove up the day before Thanksgiving to help her cook, etc., and I took George with me. I was a little nervous because he hasn't completely broken his habit of begging at the table, and also because my friend has a senior chocolate lab. I was worrying for nothing, though, because George was absolutely perfect!

He was so relaxed the whole time! On Thanksgiving day, he greeted everyone as they arrived, but he didn't jump or pester them. He laid next to my chair during dinner and didn't beg even once.

After dinner, I heard my friend ask George if he wanted a piece of turkey. I replied for him "no!" Ordinarily I'm not so strict, but I haven't given George any people food since trying to break him of his begging habit. Nonetheless, she gave her dog some turkey, and dropped a bit on the dog's head. I'm a bit miffed about what happened next. George went to take the turkey that fell on the lab's head, but the lab thought he was attacking her, so it escalated and they got into a little tussle. It wasn't serious, just some barking, no bloodshed, but poor George got blamed until I stood up for him!

George was a real trooper that day. We stopped by two other family members' houses on the way home, and he continued to do great! There were two shih-tzus and about ten people at the first house, and there were two other shih-tzus, a lab mix, about eight adults and four kids at the second house. My wife and I were worried about how George would interact with the shih-tzus and the kids, given how he was with our cat at first, but he was as gentle as could be. I was very proud of him!

Besides Thanksgiving, George has been settling in well here. He's still fascinated by the cat, but he hasn't "mouthed" him in a while. Sometimes he'll get too close, and the cat will let him know with a bop on the nose, but usually George loses interest on his own. I've left them home alone a number of times now, without even thinking about it at first.

After a week or so of keeping them separate, I think the key was to let them have time together to become familiar with one another. When we first got the cat, we already had a dog, and it took them about two weeks to become comfortable with one another. Even though the cat isn't 100% comfortable with George now, I think my wife and I initially overreacted, and it just took George a little longer to settle in.

Thanks everyone for your advice and encouragement! Now to tackle our next problem: George has a beautiful coat, but he's been starting to develop a couple of hot spots! I'm waiting to hear back from the rescue to see if I can take him to see his vet!
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:08 AM
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What a great update! When will he be ready for adoption?
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old 11-29-2012, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by jackie_hubert View Post
What a great update! When will he be ready for adoption?
He gets his first heartworm treatment the day after Christmas, and the rescue wants to wait until then to see how he reacts to the treatment. Wish him luck! I know the injection can be dangerous sometimes (though I suppose having heartworms is more dangerous), and my wife and I are getting really attached to George, so we're a little worried!

By the way, here's a picture of George smiling!
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old 11-29-2012, 02:16 AM
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So happy! Oh, I've always wanted to add a red one to family. lol
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackie_hubert View Post
Have you tried clicker training?

You could try to teach a "whiplash turn": when the cat's not around teach him a reliable "look over here!" Squeak the toy right behind him when he's not looking. The second he turns his eyes to you/squeaky toy click and immediately feed a VERY high value treat (like dehydrated or cooked meat). Repeat lots and lots and lots. Slowly start doing it when he's MILDLY distracted. When he's really solid do it when he's looking at the cat. Be sure never to squeak it when he's not likely to turn immediately.

A clicker will also make it easier to teach him other things you want to teach like all the basic commands.
I think this is terrific advice. I have found the clicker to be a terrific tool. Just learn how to use it. I would also like to recommend a book: WHEN PIGS FLY. The author uses clicker training for difficult dogs. I have now adapted her techniques and I am highly successful with my "pigs fly" dog.

Also, don't expect to get rid of the prey drive. You may be able to train other behavioral responses but the prey drive will still be there. Also, beware of something that I think is called "instinctive drift". It explains why lion tamers sometimes get bit.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:11 AM
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Bless your heart for hanging in there and giving George a chance and the foster home he so deserved. I have fostered (and failed with two) a few dogs that gave me 'pause' to think whether it was such a good idea or not, but in the end with a little time, patience, love and training- they settled in and it all worked out. As tough as it is for us sometimes, it is tough on the dogs to go from having nothing (what they know) and all of a sudden their world changes and they have it all. A bit mind boggling even for a dog.
Good to hear George was such a good boy for you, it really makes you proud - doesn't it? Hope things continue to go well, and George does well with his heartworm treatment.
Best of luck to you all.
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