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We were a 2 dog house hold, Jane a 13 year old head of the house and everything in it female Blue Heeler and her dog Harry, a 80lb pitbull/St. Bernard love bug.  We were dog sitting for some friends who were out of town, there was a dog fight between Jane and their dog when we had gone to the store, we had to make the decision to put Jane down, it was the hardest but right thing to do. Harry did grieve some but overall his attitude didn’t change. Jane was the alpha even though smaller and Harry has always been the beta, the other 2 dogs he is around most are a  female Great Dane and female Great Pyrenees, he has been at the bottom of the totem pole his whole life, doesn’t seem to bother him, he just goes with the flow.  Losing Jane happened in the middle of March. Fast forward to the end of April, we have introduced a kitten to our family. We knew that Harry wouldn’t have an issue with it as far as being aggressive, he had a best friend for 6 months that was a  ferret and has been around kittens before.  Jane was the kind of dog that would come to you for a little love get her fill and continue on, she wasn’t a cuddle or a bed dog. Harry is a lap dog. He sleeps on the bed with my husband and I and has always been a lover and center of attention. Since the introduction of the kitten he has been acting out. Not cuddling as much, brooding, trying to ignore the cat, peeing in 1 spot in the living room multiple times (he is fully house trained, never been an issue before aside from the occasional oopsies). The kitten has also started sleeping on the bed with us. I want to help Harry with the transition, any specific suggestions?

Answer

Hi Chelsea,

Harry is feeling displaced and jealous of the kitten. Since Harry has always slept in your bed with you, try to stick to whatever Harry's routines were before you got the kitten. If his place has always been in bed with you, then at least for now, the kitten shouldn't be in bed with you too. That's Harry's domain. Because of his feelings of jealousy, needs needs to be shown that he's still important.

Do things with just Harry that he enjoys, such as long walks, car rides, visiting friends, playing games, etc. Sit with just him, and leave the kitten out of the snuggle-fest. Show him that he is loved and wanted, give him plenty of one-on-one attention and playtime, and always treat him as a valued member of your family.

If Harry is healthy and active, increasing his daily exercise during this time while he's adjusting to the kitten is a good way of relieving some of his stress. Don't let the kitten near him while he's eating.

Give Harry rewards (either a small treat or praise) anytime he does a desirable behavior, such as not leaving if the kitten walks up to him, or just sniffing the kitten. Don't try to force him into being near the kitten, though.

Things got off to a rocky start, but I think Harry and the kitten will come to an understanding, in time. Treat the areas in your home where Harry has soiled with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Nature's Miracle or Simple Solution, so he won't be attracted back to those spots.

Best of luck,

Patti

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Patti

Expertise

To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.

Experience

My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

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Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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