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Canine Behavior/A terrozing kitten

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Question
Hi,
We have 2 Pomeranians.. One that is 10 pounds, the other 23 pounds. We had 2 cats ( 1- 12 years old whom just passed away) and a kitten that we found that was feral and is now about 5-6 months old. Anyhow, our smaller dog Pearl, loved our cat Smudge, whom passed away in Oct. 2012. They were really good friends. Now, she is scared to death of JD (kitten) whom like to stalk her. I know the kitten is just playing (I think)  but the concern is our dog will not come out from under the bed. When I get home, she will come to the bedroom door only. She won't come out to eat. She is very afraid when in the back yard as well. We have been trying to coax the dog out and then close the bedroom door, which seems to be working but then Pearl will constantly look around for the kitten and seems to be shaking all the time. We are seriously considering putting the kitten up for adoption (which we would prefer not to do) but Pearl is our main concern. Our other dog Max, has no issues with the kitten as he is 3 times the size of the cat being 23 pounds. We thought that Max might protect Pearl but that has not happened. We have talked to our vet and he has been neutered but not de-clawed. My question is, how do we get Pearl to stop being so afraid of a kitten? Pearl is the matriarch of the house so what to do? Any advice would be helpful. Thank you for your time

Answer
Kitten can't be truly feral or you would not have been able to get close and, even if you had trapped it, it would be totally terrified and out of control in your home.  So the kitten has had some exposure to HUMANS (some habituation) but not to DOGS.  For a kitten to be dog-friendly/tolerant, it has to be raised with dogs from as early an age as possible (6 weeks) and treated "like" a dog: this means, given the same attention, the same socialization, and training (yes cats can be trained just like dogs).

At 5-6 months of age, it's highly unlikely this cat will ever be tolerant of Pearl.  Max will not "protect" her as Max has no motivation to do so (he seems undeterred by the kitten).  Pearl is terrified.  This is unacceptable.

It is quite difficult to re-home a cat since there are millions of them dumped and found in shelters.  However, if I were you I would call the Humane Society (SPCA - not the kill shelter/municipal city shelter).  They may take the kitten.  Furthermore there may be cat rescue available in your area or privately held no-kill shelters.  Google to see what you can find.

Meanwhile: put the food in the room with Pearl.  Whatever is creating this conditioned fear response is something I can't see from here but the dog is suffering in her own home.  Don't attempt to "comfort" her since that will be construed as praise ("be afraid, good dog").  I have no idea how long you've had this cat but, at 5-6 months, it is achieving adolescence and needs to be neutered (if male) or spayed (if female).  Regardless of how good hearted you are and how much you want to help this kitten, your dog is living in absolute terror and this is not acceptable.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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