S01 Ep04: Introducing Cats and Dogs – Bella, Cooper, and Checkers Case Study

canine conversations dog training podcast

In this episode, we cover a case study where a newly-adopted female Yorkshire Terrier chased and barked at the cat, Checkers in the home. Her behavior was starting to cause Cooper, the other Yorkie in the home, to also bark at the poor cat!

Bella, the Yorkie, was also terrified of all strangers in the home. Kayla and Ursa dissect the case and share the final outcome.

Main Takeaways:

  1. Bella was a newly rescued Yorkie with some serious fear issues. She was put on behavioral medication at the advice of her vet.
  2. Bella came to Kayla after a local group class trainer recognized how much help she needed.
  3. Kayla worked with Bella initially in person, then transitioned to remote help.
  4. Bella and Checkers were slowly introduced using protective contact, the Look at That Game, and lots of counterconditioning.
  5. The owners also started doing more clicker training with Checkers, the cat, to keep him happy.
  6. Checkers the cat and Cooper (the other Yorkie in the home) spent time together during training to help keep their bond healthy.

For Further Reading:

Comments 2

  1. Hi Kayla and Ursa,

    Thank you for making the podcast! I enjoyed listening to it on Spotify. I am currently working with Kayla on smoothing out the relationship between my now adolescent standard poodle and my two adult (resident) cats.

    I was curious about something Ursa mentioned about prey drive and whether or not it is as problematic (I guess on the long term) than currently assumed. Could you share your sources about this issue? I have access to academic papers if this would be necessary. I would love reading more trustworthy articles on this.

    Thank you,

    Katherine Vande Velde

    1. Post

      Hi Katherine! Ursa and I had a quick talk about prey drive and she’s having trouble finding the original sources that she referred to. The basic gist of what we do know is this: “drive” is a pretty problematic term. It’s often described as if it’s a gear on a car, where a dog is “in prey drive” as if that’s a different sort of dog. Most of the time, people use this as a shorthand to describe arousal level around small, fast-moving things that the dog wants to catch. It’s much more effective in general to focus on the actual behaviors the dog is displaying – in your case, barking and lunging. Those behaviors are actually less consistent with true hunting behaviors, which generally revolve around low, efficient, sneaky movements. So rather than talking about a dog “in prey drive,” it’s often better for us to describe what we see – dog’s pupils are dilated, whiskers are flared, breathing is rapid and shallow, etc etc. From there, we can start to modify the actual behaviors that we see. We can interrupt the dog, teach the dog to take a deep breath on cue, and reward the dog for her “least bad” behavior in some instances. Does that make any sense?

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