Pippi, our pup, thinks she and Pom Pom are great friends and that he likes to play chase with her. Pom Pom detests Pippi. Pom Pom has perpetual anxiety about Pippi. We're working on that.
One way to help is called classical conditioning [as taught by my friend and dog trainer, Catherine]. Definition is here. Below is one of our recent classical
conditioning sessions with Pom Pom and
Pippi. We're making progress – Pom Pom will now stay within 100 yards
of Pippi [ha ha ha]. He still hisses, swats and spits when Pippi gives him eye contact, but things are slightly improving.
The good news is the conditioning is working. The bad news is it only works when I'm the common denominator when they're around each other because I'm the only one doing this exercise with them. The other members of our family either a) ignore the chase scenes or b) laugh then rescue Pom Pom. Although I will say a typical chase scene lasts less than 15 seconds because Pom Pom is superman fast and high tails it upstairs where Pippi is not allowed.
So when the three of us are together there is harmony and sharing [when I present a high value snack and say the word "treat"].
It goes like this: I present a yummy treat and Pippi sits down and minds her manners – no unruly or threatening behavior. As soon as she is fully composed, I invite Pom Pom to come closer. Then each one gets a turn to have a treat. They are very civilized about this. There is usually no fussing or jumping in on the other's turn. There is total patience.
Look how close they'll get without any discord.
But Pom Pom gets a little testy if Pippi gives him too much eye contact. He's quite threatened by this ever-growing furball who hogs all of his glory and attention.
I'm pretty sure right here he's saying, "back off [beep]!" It's kind of funny when he slaps Pippi [he has no front claws] because Pippi just sits there and doesn't react. After he slaps her, I tell Pippi "down" and she lays down. So Pom Pom ends up thinking that he totally spanked Pippi and she's submitting. Gotta build up the ego, the guy has no claws.
We love them both. But the dog/cat relationship is kind of complicated in and of itself. Throw in an overly enthusiastic puppy and an old man cat and it makes quite a colorful combination. We also feel sort of sorry for Pom Pom because not only has he been dethroned, but has a few disabilities from the time he was hit by a car. He is blind in one eye and has to adjust his jaw when he meows.
But he's a wild man. Just look at him bursting at the seams with excitement [not].
He's a trooper. And Pippi is trying really hard too. I'm proud of them both. So what if they're a little dysfunctional with each other? Aren't we all? Ha ha haaaa.