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Canine Behavior/submissive dog


We have a lab/spring spaniel mix (Zoee). A great dog but always has to be by us and can be very submissive at times.  The problem is we will be watching our daughters cat for 5 days in July. Zoee lives with a cat now which she does fine with if we're not watching they can even cuddle but if we see her she's gets up and moves away. My question is about the cat that's coming to visit.  Last time she was here Zoee was terrified of her.  She went in the basement and wouldn't come up.Scared to come into any room with the cat.  I really don't want to have to make the cat stay in just one room but I don't want to give my dog a nerves breakdown either.
Can you help me out on this one?  The cat also maybe moving in for a month when my daughter is in between apartments.

OK now let me ask you a question.  From your HUMAN perspective (much more "sophisticated" than that of a cat, regarding moral aspects let's not go there lol):

Suppose I sent you on vacation to a wonderful place.  I gave you two choices:
1.  You could share a room with others, total strangers, and I can't guaranty you'll like them.  Your movements and daily experiences will be heavily influenced by these strangers.
2.  You could stay in a private room with all the amenities where you will, yes, be "alone" most of the time, but free to follow your own natural curiosity, rest schedule, etc.

Which would you choose?

This cat is coming into a home with a dog (and the cat has no idea the dog will be afraid of her) and another cat (or more than one).  And you are "strangers" to her (she isn't habituated to you or your household routines AND the other cat(s) may not be too happy about sharing that litter box!)  Although it SEEMS inhumane to isolate her, IT IS NOT.  I took in a stray cat that had been socialized to Humans and she lived alone in a bedroom upstairs for a couple of months as she habituated to her surroundings and the sounds/smells of the other cats and the dogs in the household.  She was just fine and made a wonderful adjustment, ultimately.

So: give this cat a high value food source (better than what she's getting now) in her "confinement".  Spend time with her playing (lots of great toys out there for interactive play with a cat).  Offer her a daily catnip toy for an hour or so.  Leave a TV on (yes, cats DO watch TV! and so do dogs!), cartoons are the most popular with cats.  Leave a small nightlight on.  Put a radio on soothing music station and occasionally turn it on.  Establish a strict routine (when you feed her, when you spend time with her, when you play with her, when the TV is on, when the radio is on) just as you would for an excitable Human toddler.  Be patient, talk in high voice, sing songs (animals love that) and just wait it out.  Your daughter will get her cat back with no behavioral shocks and your dog will not have to live in misery.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


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.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, 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.

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

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

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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