Helping Max Adjust to his New Kitten Brother

| June 17, 2022

Max*, a 7-year-old Border Collie mix, needed a bit of guidance when his family grew to include a little kitten named Button*. 

Max liked to pull on the leash to chase squirrels and was selective with dogs, so when a cat came into his house, he would bark, lunge, or growl even at the slightest sound of a meow. 

His pet parents had a plan of action to help give Max and Button space. Their goal was to have Max live in the front part of the house, and Button live in the back part of the house. At first, they were separated  with a baby gate, but Max had no problem jumping over that. So, they moved a heavy, tall bookcase in the doorway to separate them. It was effective in keeping Max out, but it was very heavy and required a lot of strength to move. 

Max’s pet parents did everything they could, including watching YouTube videos for tips, but they needed a custom training plan and guidance from a professional trainer. They reached out to Toronto Humane Society’s Public Training team for help. 

Helping Max to Relax

Certified Professional Dog Trainer Louise Lawrence worked with Max’s pet parents on a desensitization and counter conditioning plan. At the beginning of the training, just the sound of a meow or a glance of Button’s empty carrier would send Max into a frenzy of barking, lunging, and growling. The goal of the first part of the custom training plan taught Max how to relax.  

They started by presenting an empty carrier in Max’s presence, and then moved on to including a stuffed cat in the carrier, and finally a stuffed cat in the carrier with a recording of Button meowing.  

At the end of their first month of training, Max was comfortable enough to relax 20 feet away from the carrier with Button inside! 

Max’s training journey will continue next month. Louise and Max’s pet parents will work on increasing his ability to cope without constant feedback in close interactions with Button behind a barrier.  

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Through humane, compassionate, trust-building exercises, our certified training professionals work to strengthen the bond you have with your animal. In-person or virtual, in a group setting or one-on-one, we strive to provide you and your pet with the tools needed to live your best life together. Visit our Training and Behaviour page to get started.    

*Names have been changed.