My son and his 1-year-old dog, a basenji mix, live with us, but he keeps Roxy in his room most of the time when he’s not working.
I have a 9-year-old pug who is very meek. We also have a 6-year-old cat that at first ignored Roxy. Roxy wants to play with her, but my cat doesn’t want to play with Roxy. She gets mad and chases her and has her claws out and Roxy won’t leave her alone. She barks and jumps all over the place. I have to take my cat into the bedroom and close the door. My husband keeps letting her out.
Now Roxy is growling at my dog, Sierra. Sierra isn’t doing anything but standing by her dad or lying in her bed. Every time I give Sierra a treat and Roxy a treat, Roxy gobbles up her treat and then goes after Sierra’s treat. Sierra will never fight for anything. How can I stop all this?
— Mary, Las Vegas
It sounds like Roxy’s youthful demeanor and adolescent manners may be giving the other pets in your home a hard time. She’s the common denominator, so let’s address what may be leading to this chaos.
You mention the cat was fine when Roxy first arrived, but then when Roxy tried to engage the cat, your cat wanted none of it. Your cat is irritated by Roxy’s jumping and barking and wanting to play. Sometimes, a cat will scratch a dog and the dog is usually quick to get the hint, but I hate to see things escalate like that when there are some things you can do.
Roxy needs basic training so that she has other things to think about besides the other animals in the home. If your son will do it or allow you to do it, train Roxy to “come” when called. Train Roxie to “sit” and “down” and reward her behavior with a treat each time. If Roxy doesn’t listen to you and continues to go after the cat, put Roxy on a leash so that you can get her and walk her away from the temptation.
Dogs can be trained to leave food alone with the command “leave it” and a food-based reward. They also can be trained to “leave it” with the animals in the home.
Roxy shouldn’t be allowed to growl at Sierra or take a treat from her. If you’re giving treats that take a long time to eat or chew, then they should be given to the dogs in separate rooms or in their respective kennels, if they are kennel trained. If it’s a quick treat, make sure the dogs are spaced apart, are asked to “sit,” and then hand the treat directly to each dog, and stay present and standing until the treats are eaten.
When Roxy growls, give a quick, firm “no,” call her to you, ask her to “sit” and then “down” before giving the treat. Never give her a treat for her coming to you if she has just growled because you don’t want her to think she is being rewarded for the growling.
In addition to training, Roxy needs play time and a 30-minute walk daily. A tired dog is always a better-behaved dog.
We will be traveling on a five-hour flight and need to take our 16-year-old cat. He is 18 pounds. I’m not sure if he would be comfortable under the seat. What’s the best way to fly with him on a major airline?
— Steve, Long Beach, New York
Cats feel safest hiding, so under the seat will be the least stressful place for your cat to be on the airplane. Instead of a hard carrier, which might constrain your big guy too much, try a well-ventilated, soft-sided airline-approved cat carrier. Never put an animal in an overhead compartment.
Soft-sided cat carriers are allowed in the cabin and provide some additional space for your cat to spread out under the seat. Some of these airline-approved carriers can accommodate cats under 22 pounds, so putting him under the seat may not be an issue.
Search online for some options and make sure it’s airline-approved and will fit under the seat before buying. Then, let your big guy get used to the carrier before the flight by leaving it open and in a closet, so it’s not an entirely new experience during your flight.