Cat Bullies Puppy – Who’s House is This?

Tootsie

Question:

We were heartbroken when Oliver, our black Lab, passed after developing bone cancer. Even our 10 year old kitty Oriole got along with him. We adopted a chocolate Lab female puppy “Tootsie” who is frisky as all get-out. Life would be so peaceful if Oriole accepted her! But no! He brutalizes her, scares the h— out of her. The puppy stays safely in a cage at night but it is a constant vigil to ensure Oriole doesn’t maul Miss T. Our hope is that once Tootsie gets larger than kitty, she will stand up to him.

Dr. Nichol:

My condolences over your loss of good Oliver. He sounds like a gentleman. Now Oriole brutalizes Tootsie, scaring the “heck” out of her? Such salty language. You could have said the “dickens.”

You are right to be concerned. The developing neural circuitry in Tootsie’s immature brain can be permanently altered by Oriole’s intimidation. This puppy’s sweet personality isn’t wired for conflict. It’s your grouchy cat who needs an attitude adjustment.

Scolding, swatting, or any attempt to level this playing field would only escalate Orioles’s hostile association with Tootsie. He’s only known one, fondly remembered dog. He regards the replacement as an alien invader with nefarious intent. Inviting Oriole and his cute nemesis to nibble s’mores while singing kumbaya around the campfire would just trigger another escalation in your cranky cat’s militant defense of his homeland. Smart move, keeping them apart.

Oriole needs to get the heck (OK, I said it) outa the house for some cat me time. You can build him a really big catio or allow him outside wearing an escape-proof harness tethered to you by an expandable leash, all while Tootsie frolics happily with others of her ilk, every day, at a good doggy daycare like K9 Resort. You should also naturalize kitty’s indoor environment with a plethora of simulations of innate behavioral opportunities. Implement the list of Feline Environmental Enrichments from my website, drjeffnichol.com. And for cryin’ out loud, stop all that cussing. It’s a bad example for your impressionable pets.

For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Email pet behavior or physical questions to drjeffnichol@drjeffnichol.com or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.

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