Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Introducing a puppy to a cat

I have been asked on my Youtube space about introducing a husky puppy to a cat, so I thought I'd blog about it to give me a bit more freedom than the Youtube comment limit allows. Firstly, there are some great online resources, such as these that I found very quickly on Google:
We introduced Lupus (the dog) to our home when Oliver (the cat) was approximately 5 years old. Puppies are very curious and also very boistrous, which doesn't go down too well with a well established cat, so we introduced them as carefully as possible.

Oliver hid for a few days, but by careful mnagement regained his normal routine pretty quickly.


We 'cage (or 'crate') trained' Lupus, in that he had his own cage in the house that was his space. It contained his bed, his food, his water and one or two of his toys (you shouldn't give a dog all his toys, as they should belong to you and not the dog, so you give him a toy as a reward!). Anyway, this worked very well, as the dog had a space where he could be kept while we were in bed or out for short periods (after gradual training) and that he could retreat to when he needed to feel safe. This allowed the rest of the flat to remain the primary territory of the cat, avoiding conflicts of that nature.

I strongly recommend getting a cage for the dog, providing it's large enough (ours was huge), as it's not at all cruel. Dogs need a 'den' where they can sleep and feel safe, a place to call their own, even if it's just for the first year until they're fully house trained and they can find their own place in the home. Huskies can be very destructive, loving to steal things and stress test them with their teeth (otherwise known as 'chewing'), so a cage is a good way of preventing accidents.

Speaking of accidents, confining a puppy's 'toilet mess' to a cage during the night will also make cleaning much easier, and will help with the house training. It's much easier and more hygenic than getting it out of your carpets, which will happen, but not as often!

Pecking Order

As dogs have a strong recognition of social pecking order we made sure that the dog wasn't 'promoted' above the cat, even though it doesn't mean much to the cat itself. Huskies have a strong pack instinct and will try to advance to the 'alpha' pack position from an early age, so ensuring that a dogs position is constantly communicated is important.

This just involved simple things like ensuring the cat was fed before the dog (and that the dog realised this), so we established the feeding order accordingly:
  • Us (the 'alpha' pair)
  • The cat
  • The dog
This reflects the 'pecking order' of our 'pack' and ensured that the puppy didn't get ideas above his station. Cats will probably elevate themselves to avoid the dog anyway (on tables, chairs etc), which again strengthens the heirarchy, so this worked well for us at least.

Behavioural Changes

We did notice behavioural changes in Oliver. He went from being quite dismissive to being more affectionate, as he competed for attention with the dog. When you get a cute new puppy it's easy to neglect the cat, so we made sure that he got plenty of attention.

By making the dog sleep in his cage every night, the cat had the freedom to sleep with us without fear of 'puppy ambush' and get plenty of affection, so we established a routine around this.


The main thing we've learnt is that the dog and cat will sort themselves out over time, gradually learning about each other and learning to live together. The cat still has an occasional swipe at the dog, but the dog has leaned not to stick his nose in the cat's face.

Saying that, hold a piece of chicken in front of them and they'll sit together like best friends, so no matter what their brains say their stomachs have overall control!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Husky Dental Hygiene

Lupus was starting to get a bit of plaque on his back teeth, so the vet recommended some enzymatic toothpaste from a company called Virbac. It works with the natural enzymes in a dogs mouth to get rid of plaque and it seems to be doing the trick. Lupus is just getting used to it, as we've used 'dentastix' and other things like that to keep his teeth clean, but they haven't worked very well and his gums were suffering.

This is now part of his daily routine, and he gets more tolerent with it every time. The poultry flavour probably helps a lot though!

If anyone has any helpful tips or advice on the technique it's always much appreciated!

Lupus on his Sunday walk

This is a little video of Lupus on his Sunday walk, round a loal reservoir. Some husky owners might be amazed that he's off the lead, but he's very good and this area is actually fenced in with a river down one side, so it's s safe place to give him a good run. As you can see though, he's pretty obedient and is an absolute pleasure to be around.

We're determined to teach him some new tricks though!

Grooming Time!

It was recently time for Lupus to blow his coat, so we took a little video of him being groomed. Is this the most chilled out dog in the world or what?

Water Sculpture at Chelsea Flower Show

Not really got much to fdo with Lupus, although Giles Rayner the water sculptor loves him and Lupus always has great fun with Giles' dog Mali, who is a lurcher. This is Giles' exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006:

He has done a lot of fantastic sculptures both for commercial and private commissions, so if you'd like one of your own you can see Giles' website here: http://www.gilesrayner.com/

October 2006 - It's been a while

Well, it's been a while since Lupus kicked me in to writing something on his blog, so here you go. He's had a pretty hectic year and it's not over yet. We've been all over the UK on various trips, and we've also moved home... which Lupus loves as it gives him a chance to make a new set of friends.

The place we've moved to has lots of small dogs, which don't always get on with something like a huksy. In fact, most of the dogs are a nightmare because they're spoilt and not allowed to be proper dogs, but thankfully there are some great dogs and owners around.

Anyway, I'm going to post some videos from the past few months, so watch this space.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lupus tries dogsitting...

We spent today looking after our friend Buddy, who has his own blog (linked from the LH side over there)! He's grown since his last appearance on here, and we now think he's a cross between a staffie and a lurcher, as he's got a staffie head but longer legs... and he's fast!

Here is Buddy with Lupus in the park... play fighting... like they do for 5 hours at a time, on a solid wood floor, when I'm trying to work.... aaaaarrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Howling Husky...

This is Lupus having a quick howl before dinner...

There was another dog barking in the distance that you can't hear. It's not his best howling, so I'll hopefully get him in full voice at some point. I feel sorry for anyone walking through the park behind us when he does it later at night... ;-)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Husky problem with food and the toilet!

I received an email today from a worried husky owner, after recently acquring one of these wonderful dogs. This is what she said...

"i noticed you have a beautiful husky and wanted to know if you could answer some questions for me?

i got my husky when she was 6 months old...shes 11 months now and when we got her the previous owner said she ate wet and dry food. For a week Brina wouldn't wet food and barely ate the dry food. So I freaked cause she was already skinny as hell and tried all different kinds of things...warm water in the dry food, white rice mixed in the wet food, canned chicken mixed with the dry food. she would eat what i made her for about a day or two then would eat the next day so of course I tried something different. After a lot of money spent on just food, lol, my bf tried to giving her plain wet food again and she ate it. But of course shes right back to the habit where she only eats that for a couple days and then wont touch it. Am I doing something wrong with her food that is making her so finiky? She looks extremely skinny. But I've heard from numerous people that huskys usually are pretty skinny when there not in Alaska or snow? Do you know if any of this is true?

Also potty training. She's not very good at it and shes almost a year old. my boyfriend and i are so fed up we are almost to the point we are about to give her away.
in the morning before my boyfriend gets up at 7 she goes on the carpet in the hallway. and at night she goes in the kitchen. i am home all day. and take her out often in our backyard, she sometimes pees but 99% of the time shes running around trying to catch lizards and bugs and doesn't bother trying to go to the bathroom outside. we're pretty much at the end of the road here with her on this. any advice would be great.

sorry this was so long..lol"

This was my response to her...



Huskies are really fussy eaters, as mine would love a particular food and then decide to hate it as soon as we bought a new 20kg bag, although we've now found a combination of dry food (Choice from Nutro, for sensitive stomachs) and wet food that he likes.

I'd first recommend having her checked by a vet, to make sure there's no infection or other illness (worms etc). It sounds like this might be related to her relocation though.

We feed Lupus twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Routine is really important to dogs, so you also need to make sure that she doesn't get food from other sources in between, at least until she gets in to a good eating routine. Huskies can look skinny, especially at this time of the year, as she should just have lost her winter coat for spring. I saw one yesterday that looked really skinny, but she was perfectly healthy.

Changing food often causes an upset stomach, so it might be that she's trying a food, liking it and then not feeling well enough to eat any more after a couple of days. It might also be that you've set a bad routine of rewarding bad behaviour (not eating food) by giving her better food every time.

You should check her stools, as they will be runny if she's unwell, but huskies are notorious for not only being 'picky' but also having very sensitive stomachs, so the slightest thing can cause upset. Try simple boiled rice with boiled chicken for at least a week and see what happens.

When huskies are working they can burn thousands of calories in a day (10-12,000) and will eat accordingly, so if you combine her eating routine with a good exercise routine it might help. Lupus has a 1-hour walk in the morning, after which he gets his food and nearly always eats it. He then gets nothing for the rest of the day (except a few treats during training) and gets his evening meal after we've eaten dinner... as it's also important for you to eat every meal before the dog (maintaining the pack heirarchy).

Another thing is not to leave the food down. Put it to her for 30 minutes and then remove it. Do this at exactly the same times each day and she'll get a routine for when food will be provided. Don't give in, just use the same food at the same times until she starts to eat it.

When changing food you should gradually start to mix an increasing amount of the new food with the old food, gradually changing the mixture over a period of 1-2 weeks until you're completely on the new food. That will prevent any shocks to the digestive system and should avoid any illness from sensitivity.

There's a good answer to someone having a similar problem on this web page, at the bottom:



This doesn't have to be too hard. As with any dog training, the mantra to remember is...

"Reward the good... ignore the bad..."

It takes a little time, but you need to reward every poo or pee she does outside, while she's doing it. This means you have to stay close and prevent her being distracted until she has been to the toilet (perhaps keep her on a lead to maintain her attention until she's got it). As soon as she squats to pee or poo say "good girl", and give her a small treat. This will reinforce that going to the toilet outside is a good thing to do. It's good to keep a specific area of the yard aside for this, and make sure it's cleaned up daily, otherwise she won't use it. After about a week of this remove the treats, so you're only giving voice reward, then she should be well on her way.

When she goes in the house DON'T REACT, as any reaction is rewarding her behaviour. Put Brina in another room so she can't see you and clean up the mess quietly and without any fuss.

If you keep rewarding the good behaviour (going to the toilet outside) and ignoring the bad behaviour she'll eventually catch on. Again, routine is important, so once she learns that she will be taken outside at certain times, and be rewarded for going to the toilet, she'll adjust her behaviour accordingly.

It's like having a child, where you quickly need to establish a routine. Boredom might come in to it too, so set-up a daily routine of exercise (2-3 times per day), basic training (up to 30-minutes a day of 'sit', 'stay', 'down' etc) and eating.

It takes a bit of time and patience, but you'll get there. You're not only training the dog, but also training yourself, so try and get hold of some books or go to a training class. One thing that is very important is consistency, so you and your boyfriend both need to train and treat Brina in exactly the same way, otherwise she'll get confused and you'll undermine any progress you make.

Huskies are challenging, but they're very smart and can be trained to eat and go to the toilet at times that suit you, providing you stick to the routine.

I hope this helps, but if you need any more advice just drop me a line. I'd love to see a picture of Brina too, if you have one.



If anyone has any other useful advice on this subject I'd love to hear it, and I'll pass on anything useful so we can help another beautiful husky to have a great life. If you know anyone else who might be able to help please pass this post on to them too.

Just leave a comment and I'll keep an eye out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's always the little ones...

Lupus has had some minor altercations with a Jack Russell, called 'Billy', although they haven't really had a fight due to Lupus being a lot bigger and obviously more powerful. In case you don't know the breed, Jack Russels are a tenatious little animal that almost always will have ideas above it's station.

Unfortunately many owners reinforce this character trait by treating them as 'lap dogs' and also by carrying them around, so they think they're above other dogs.

Jack Russells were actually bread for hunting rats, rabbits and other small animals, hence their small size and muscular build. Most are now bought as companions and having met a few owners of these dogs they tend not to be 'dog' people... in that they treat their dog as though it were a person more than an animal.

Anyway, I was in the park with lupus and his friend, 'Harvey', who's a gorgeous bulldog about 18 months old, so he's fairly small. We were just leaving the park when Billy entered off the lead. He came up to Lupus and growled, but Lupus ignored him (as usual), but Billy attacked... yes, attacked Harvey and locked his jaws on to Harvey's ear and cheek.

This went on for what seemed like ages, but was probably just a few minutes, so we tried various things to try and separate them. If you're ever faced with this situation yourself, here are the things we tried and the thing that worked:
  • Pulling the jaws apart - Don't bother, it won't work and they have sharp teeth!
  • Finger up the bottom - Difficult when they're fighting, as they're small dogs.
  • Strangulation - SUCCESS! So, throttle the terrier so it can't breathe and it will eventually let go.
So, there you have it. Jack Russells can be nasty little dogs that fiercely attack other dogs... but only if they think they might be able to win. So, Billy is now known as 'Bully', which I think is about right!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter Walk

This is me and Lupus on our Easter walk. OK, so I'm walking and he's not, but sometimes this is the only way to get a Husky to go where you want it to! He found a bitch in heat and refused to leave her alone, which is par for the course when an 18-month old dog (with tackle still intact) finds a lady dog he likes.

Me and Lupus on an Easter walk near Twickenham

We went to Twickenham, where Buddy (lupus' friend) lives. There's a really good walk in Crane Park, which is a nature reserve and is a brilliant place to walk your dog. Lupus went nuts with Buddy, jumping in the river and chasing each other between the trees.

So, if you're in that area and need somewhere to walk your dog i can strongly recommend it!