Sunday, February 16, 2014

When The Cat Ruins Months of Training

Question of the Day:

What does THIS
Sweet, sweet Blossom in a dog crate

Sweet, sweet Rip eating his dinner in a tunnel

Have in common?

Let me explain using badly drawn pictures, and a photo or two.

For Christmas, I was lucky enough to get something that had been on my wish list for a long time:

A heavy-duty chute!  From my favorite dog training store J and J Dog.
What more could a girl want?

Rip has already worked on the chute during agility class, but I wanted one at home so I could get a more solid, quick performance on this obstacle.  

I had the chute upstairs to practice in the living room on a daily basis.  The first days went really well - Rip liked the chute and I was able to send him to the obstacle from many different angles and distances.  He seemed happy.

Then, one day, Blossom saw us practicing.  

Rip was happy.
Tail up and wagging.
Ears and head up.
Looking forward to the obstacle.
Blossom watched.

Rip entered the chute, thinking happy thoughts.
Then, like a cat on a mission, Blossom ran to the chute, too.

And then…
Just when Rip was pushing his way through the closed part of the chute…
Blossom pounced on him from behind.

He ran through the rest of the chute,
but would go near it no more.
Head down, ears back, and tail tucked,
 Rip wanted nothing to do with the chute.
Blossom seemed pleased.

I was not pleased.  I now have a dog who, after months of training, REFUSES to go near the chute.  Not just go INTO the chute.  He won't enter the room if the chute is set up.  

I tried clicker training him to get close.  This worked to get him in the room, but didn't work to get him near the chute.  And he still looked unhappy.

So I removed the closed/fabric part of the chute, and started feeding Rip in the open tunnel portion of the obstacle. At first he was even wary of that, but his comfort level is growing. Once he's comfortable with this, I'll add the fabric back and continue to feed him until he's comfortable again.  Then we'll try re-training the obstacle from scratch the very beginning.

Meanwhile, whenever I train Rip now, I put Blossom in the dog crate.  Why?  Not just because of the chute, but because she started to ambush Rip on dumbbell retrieves, and taunt him while we were working on stays.  Don't feel bad for Blossom, though, I only train for 10-15 minutes at a time, and she can watch most of our work from the crate.

So that's what this...

…and this have in common.


  1. First, so sorry. That sucks! Bad kitty!

    Now, LOL! That is hilarious the cat would do that. Do you think she clawed Rip's butt? Wilson had a similar incident happen on a walk. The neighbor's cat stalked us on our evening walk and ran down into the storm drain. A couple of blocks later, the little turkey attacked Wilson from out of the storm drain as we walked by. It scared the bejesus out Wilson and to this day (10 years later) he's still wary of storm drains. Jimmy has no fear of course so his lack of fear has helped Wilson a lot. Do you know some one with an agility dog who can run thru the chute so Rip can watch? It might ease his fears.

    1. Taryn - I think Blossom did use claws on her pounce - not enough to injure - just enough to scare. I ilke the idea of sending another dog through to ease fears. I might even be able to use ZIggy…

  2. I'm sorry, but I did nothing but laugh while reading this. Point: Blossom.

  3. Blossom must be closely related to Rascal-the-cat who comes outside to join us on the agility course. He even does the teeter (heavy cat). In the house, however, he waits by the dog door to smack Chase when he comes in. I have to pick him up and call Chase who warily sticks his nose in -- darned cats!

    1. Penni - The cat/dog interaction is really funny. Blossom is the first of our cats to engage with the dogs. She does these things in a playful way, and thankfully Rip doesn't seem to mind most of the time. I think he gets that game, but it keeps things lively! Maybe Rascal & Blossom read the same "Getting Along with Dogs" book :)


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