Pecking order - cats and dogs

Posted by Critter
Apr 4, 2013
I rescued a Boxer mix 2 months ago. I have 4 cats and a 2 year-old Boston Terrier. The Boston loves the cats and snuggles with them. I allow the Boston on the couch (but not the bed) with me and the cats. I allowed the Boxer mix on the couch (but not the bed) but he is not very careful around the cats and he is starting to "get in my face" on the couch. I am now starting to use training skills from this site to train the Boxer mix to stay off the couch (i.e., have a cushiony alternative dog bed on the floor next to the couch, praising him when he uses it and appropriately addressing him when he gets on the couch). I would still like to allow the Boston to lay on the couch. Will this make my Boxer mix mad/jealous? The Boxer mix sometimes nudges the cats on the couch and I redirect him. He has always been good with the cats and he hasn't tried to hurt them but I don't want to inadvertently facilitate a problem between the Boxer mix and the cats or between the Boxer mix and the Boston. However, I want the Boxer to see his pecking order which is behind me and the Boston. I always have made the Boxer mix and the Boston sit and stay before letting them through doors, but the Boxer jumps over the Boston to go first. I am starting to address this by making the Boxer mix stay until the Boston has gone through the door first. My question is "Is it ok to continue to allow the Boston and the cats on the couch and make the Boxer mix have his own dog bed next to the couch?" and if so "Is there any other training tips you have for facilitating my goal regarding this matter?" FYI - the Boxer mix sometimes barks very close to my head and nudges my head when I am on the couch. He did this before I started making him stay off the couch. I ignore this behavior and he usually goes and sits down on the floor. He usually follows basic sit and stay commands. He struggles with paying attention to me on the leash and when he is outside in the backyard. In the house he will readily "sit, stay, come." He loves all people so far and loves meeting other dogs. No aggression toward my cats, just nudging sometimes which I redirect with "Ah-Ahh" and he stops.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Apr 8, 2013

Great to hear that you adopted a rescue dog, keep up the great work. thumbs up

I would like a little more information before I give you any advice, so if you could please answer these following questions:

How old is the rescued pooch? Do you have his history- why he was given away? Any previous aggressive episodes that you know of (in his previous home?) Did the previous owner have other pets?

My personal opinion is to have all dogs in a household treated in the same manner. They are like children after all. Preferential treatment can lead to behavioural issues and we don't want those now, do we?

Waiting to hear back from you!
Posted by Critter
Apr 10, 2013
My rescued Boxer mix is 1 and a half years old. He has been with me for 3 months. He was found by the rescue volunteer on the highway. He was in a foster home for a few weeks with kids, cats and dogs. He reportedly did great with all of them. He then had to be switched to a kennel due to the foster parent having to be placed inpatient due to cancer. He was in the kennel for about a week with 2 other dogs. He was taken out of the kennel throughout the day to socialize with people. He doesn't present as aggressive with the cats. He just nudges them sometimes. since the post went up I have gotten a bigger couch and let them all hang out on the couch. I just can't stand not being able to snuggle with him. I agree that it is not good to have different rules for the two dogs. He is doing well on the couch. His barking at me issue has subsided as I have been working on firm but appropriate leash-training with him. I have been reading a book that talks about various other issues decreasing when alpha status is established through appropriate leash-walking and requiring the dog to sit before going through doors, etc. He appears less anxious since doing this. He and my Boston are not allowed to sleep on my bed (the bed is rather tall and I don't want them to hurt themselves jumping off of it). When my Boxer mix is on the couch, he snuggles with the cats.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Apr 11, 2013
Hello again,

It is great to hear that he has settled down It is very nice of you to have bought a bigger couch. I am glad that he has found a happy forever home, I am sure he will make a great pet.

Yes, what you say about alpha training is absolutely correct; It is quite similar to being a stressed out bread-winner of a family versus being a happy-go-lucky child in that family. Your pooches would much rather be the said child instead of the bread- winner. They are so much more relaxed and look up to you instead of trying to be your protector. It is also good that you keep them off your bed, as it is a form of conveying your alpha status.

Wishing you and your four-legged friends the best!