Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
December 5, 2006 12:02 PM   Subscribe

OK, so no human sacrifice, but a new puppy in an apartment already containing a cat - advice for training the puppy and dealing with the cat?

So, the wife and I just bought a brand new puppy 4 days ago - a beagle no less. She's 8 weeks old.

We also have one cat, who can be a bit of a bully towards other cats (from when it used to be her parents' cat and lived with two other cats - that's four cats in one sentence), and aren't too sure how it'll be with a new dog in the place.

And, we're in an apartment with both of us being gone during the day either at work or school. So, I'm looking for any advice relating to both training the puppy and how best to approach the cat situation. I've seen a few other threads, but, of course, nothing quite like what I want.

So far, the puppy has taken well to her crate (we only put her in it at night, door closed, and she hasn't relieved herself in it yet - good sign maybe?), as well as learning to use the puppy pads we placed in our kitchen area (we gate that area for her to have 100% of the time, no exploring the whole apartment yet) while we're gone during the day.

We take her out once in the morning at 7:30 AM (which she seems to understand to potty out there as well), whenever whoever gets home first (roughly 3:30 PM or so), and then at least once more before putting her to bed at around 11 PM.

The biggest issue we have thus far with the puppy is figuring the best way to correct her when she refuses to stop nipping at our clothes, fingers, toes, what have you when we're with her. We understand she's a puppy and is prone to try out her teeth, but when and how do we correct that?

Also, how about when we decide (months, maybe a year down the road) to let her roam in the apartment while we're both there - stuff like transitioning her off the puppy pads to simply knowing she gets about 3 chances during the day to go the bathroom outside.

Oh yeah, then there's the whole cat thing. The cat definitely realizes there's another animal in the house, and that it's not going anywhere, but is there any good way to introduce the two together, or do we just let the cat and dog figure that out for themselves once they start sharing the whole apartment?

I'll watch this thread closely to reply to any questions or give additional information. Anything (books, websites, videos, etc) is appreciated. Feel free to e-mail me at mrhaydel at hotmail dot com should you feel inclined to.
posted by mrhaydel to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When the puppy nips, correct her as her mother/littermates would: yelp to let her know it hurt and then walk away -- give her no attention for a few moments. You can also keep a chew-friendly item to redirect her attention with.

As far as the bathroom thing goes, the rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold it for one hour plus their age in months. 3:30 to 11 pm is way too long to expect her to last at 8 weeks old. The puppy pads are good for emergencies, but if she can use them all the time you're setting up for bad habits fast. Can you have someone else let her out during the day, or hire a dog walker, or switch off making a quick trip home with your wife? Maybe a friendly neighbor (older person, stay at home mom) would be able to jump in. Or find a doggy daycare.

Beagles are working dogs and need stimulation and activity. They'll make it themselves by chewing and howling if you don't help them out.
posted by handful of rain at 12:40 PM on December 5, 2006

Well, you seem to have many questions.

First, let me be somewhat brutal: "The biggest issue we have thus far with the puppy is figuring the best way to correct her when she refuses to stop nipping at our clothes, fingers, toes, what have you when we're with her.". I fear you are starting to witness your beagle developing her beagleness - I don't know if its even possible to train a beagle not to destroy things now and then. As a matter of fact, a beagle is not a good choice for a dog that will be alone in an apartment most of the day, but this ship has already sailed, I guess. As handful pointed above, beagles are work dogs, so there, she needs a lot of outdoors activities to be happy. Otherwise she will develop other fascinating interests (shoes, clothes in general, the cat).

I got yet another question: Are "She's 8 weeks old" and "We take her out" mutually compatible? Maybe my vet is a bit obsessive, but at every new dog we were specifically instructed not to take a puppy younger than four months outside (this is related to the time needed for the immune system to catch up with the vaccines).

I would also recommend that one of you either get a vacation or find someone to train the dog and let her around the apartment all day long now. I say this for a couple of reasons. First, the more you postpone the harder it will be for the dog to understand the limits you want her to follow. Second, the cat thing.

I have only had this problem the other way around (adult dog, two new cats) and with a far easier dog, our gentle golden retriever. The point is that you should get one used to the other as fast as possible. As the cat is older and owns the territory, introducing the puppy now will be far easier, as both will have a chance to develop a relationship without any of them feeling threatened. The cat will be the "boss" and a puppy will accept it easily. If you let the dog grow up before letting them live together, you may end up with a nasty war in your hands (cats can blind and hurt dogs, beagles can kill cats). The mechanics are pretty simple - hold the dog (dogs are far more curious, prone to run after a new "toy") and let the cat in the room for a time, and let them get near each other as they see fit. Do it for a couple of days, giving them more time each day. Soon they will get used to each other and you will be able to let them together alone.
posted by nkyad at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2006

Response by poster: @handful: I have heard of the "technique" of simply walking away from the dog without a word as a way of allowing her to figure out that what she did hurts and isn't wanted. That's a good suggestion, and we'll certainly try that.

And we definitely won't be letting her inside for 8 hours when we're home (from 3 to 11) - we'll take her out as often as we can, I just was listing the 3 main times we'll always let her out, just to get on a schedule.

@nkyad: I realize it is in both a puppy and a beagle's nature to seek things to chew up or destroy, but I'm not so sure my wife does.

Unfortunately, this was more of a "this dog is too cute and I'm drawn to it" thing for my wife than it was a "let's do some research on breeds before we buy." I had a beagle when I was younger, and can certainly remember it's wailing/howling barks, as well as its rambunctiousness.

As for the taking her outside thing, we haven't gotten word from the vet (she had her first visit yesterday) or the store we bought her from about not taking her out until she's a certain age, but it is something I'll look into it.

Part of the reason why we were even considering getting any kind of dog now is that starting next week, my wife will be on her Christmas break from school, so she'll have a good 4 weeks (I know it's not much, but it's something) to be with the puppy all day, and hopefully be able to give her what she needs.

As for introducing the cat to the dog and vice versa, it'd be hard to make the cat even stay in the same room as the dog, so that's not a super feasible option. However, we'll definitely consider letting them interact sooner than we planned.
posted by mrhaydel at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2006

Here's what worked for me raising several pups in a cat-occupied house over the last few years. YMMV.

Correcting nipping/chewing: a firm "No bite" in a deep, serious, sharp voice. Remove the item/finger. Replace it with an authorized chewtoy, and "Good Snoopy, bite a bone!" Also, until the pup is out of the chewing/teething stage, it's helpful to have only one kind of chew toy (for instance, a puppy-sized Nylabone.) If they're allowed to chew on lots of differently shaped and sized toys as babies, they can get the impression that it's ok to chew pretty much anything they want. One toy type says, "You may chew this, and only this, and not anything else" until they get the concept fully. I stay away from any stuffed toy because it encourages chewing on cloth/upholstered items.

Cats: make sure the cat always has a puppy-free space -- a room or area cordoned off from puppy access. The puppy is going to be very curious and want to play with the cat as if it's a dog. Most cats don't appreciate that, and even if the cat tolerates or likes it, it's unwise to encourage anything remotely likely to push the dog's "prey drive" buttons. I supervised cat/pup interactions vigilantly for a few months and used the "leave it" command anytime the pup followed, chased, or really did anything more than sniff at a cat. Say it once, then enforce it if necessary, and reward the puppy when it disengages and walks away from the cat. You may have to do this 400 times a day for a while.

Another thing some websites recommend is putting the pup on a leash, then letting the cat walk around the room. Anytime the pup strains or darts toward the cat, it gets a "No!", and you praise it like crazy when it sits or stands calmly and just looks interested. I also found it good to crate the pup for a short period and let the cat walk around so they could acclimate across a barrier. The cat will learn very quickly that pup in crate = "I can move about freely."

They may decide to be friends, but you want to discourage any sort of rambunctious or bullying behavior regardless of who initiates it. If you establish a basic "no roughing up the cat (or puppy) rule, then they should eventually become quite calmly affectionate. My cats sometimes sleep with the dogs; any cat can confidently walk through the group of four large dogs unmolested because the dogs just simply accept that they don't mess with the kitties.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2006

Oh, another way you can encourage safe get-to-know-yous: put the cat in a carrier, and initially set it where the puppy can't really get to it but can smell the cat, such as next to you on the couch. There will be some hissing. Just do this for a few minutes at first, and praise the pup when it sniffs politely; give it a "No!" if it tries to get at the cat. Then after doing this several times over several days until the pup is calm around the carrier and the cat is relaxed, you can set the carrier on the floor and let them adapt to that.

The cat may very well avoid any room where the puppy is for a few days or weeks; this is a foreign, scary, noisy little creature. Curiosity should trump fear soon enough.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:10 PM on December 5, 2006

I just went through this with my new puppy (except the cats part). We ALWAYS give the dog something else to chew on when she starts chewing inappropriate things (including us) and this works well.

To keep her busy while we are out we found two fabulous items. The first is called the Tricky Treat Ball and it's this orange ball that you put kibble in. The dog has to play with the ball to get its meal and this helps fight boredom and stretches out meal time.

The other great chew toy is the Kong. Basically, you fill the Kong with kibble and cheez-whiz style paste and freeze it then give it to the dog (freezing draws out the amount of time it takes to get the filling out). The dog will happily chew for up to an hour. You can also stuff these things called "ziggies" into the kong which is a safe digestable chewy stick (see the Kong link above).

The one last thing you might want to consider is a No Bark sonic device. Beagles are notorious barkers. Actually they bay which is this weird sounding "roooooooo" if the puppy isn't doing it yet -- she will.
posted by GIRLesq at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2006

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