I adopted a 3 year old spayed female AmStaff from the SPCA yesterday. She is an unbelieviably good dog. The Wake County SPCA (in NC) has an incredible program called Pit Crew to provide extra training to pits who need homes so that people will be more likely to consider them. She’s extremely docile, has been calm with no crying or barking, is bright and obviously bonded to me, and responds well to commands and doesn’t pull when walking.
My only concern is my cats. We are a cat house and have three. This our first dog. Cassie is sweet and gentle but compared to our cats she’s a mammoth. She could easily kill or maime any of them in one easy shot. Since she’s been home I’ve had my cats locked up in my spare bedroom. This is breaking my heart. I feel like I am neglecting my very long time companions.
What are the best strategies for introducing my new girl to the cats. I’ve read about limited controlled exposure: i.e. 10 minutes of 1-on-1 cat time, then 15, then 20, 30, 24, etc until I am confident that the dog just sort of ignores the cats and stays focused on me. That sounds reasonable but it requires mantaining composure. I am genuinly scared the second my dog sees the cats as she begins to bark, whine, and hyper-focus. I can’t stay relaxed or calm as I’m afraid that if I make a bad judgment call my long time pets who I love dearly could be hurt, and it would be my fault.
So, any suggestions, advice, and comforting success stories are welcome. Am I overthinking this? Will my Cassie have a few minutes of hyperactivity and then just leave them alone? And what about long-term plans. I can’t leave the cats in a room 16 to 20 hours a week when they’ve had full reign of the house for 10 years. That’s just not fair. And Cassie can’t be crate-trained due to her history (she really fears crates / cages / small spaces.)