Second try: socializing dogs to kittens…?


Long description, I know.

We’ve always had adult cats when we got a new dog – so the dogs have always been used to adult cats around the house.
Not rambunctious, curious little balls of energy that look more like good play toys.

So long story short we took in a litter of kittens for someone, found some new homes, and now we’re likely to keep the last three.
They’ve only known dogs exist since Friday night, and they’re no longer hissing at the dogs – in fact, we let them roam the living room while one of our dogs was lying on the couch, and they paid her absolutely no mind. Today a couple of them were jumping on top of the gate while one of our other dogs was sitting with his head resting on it (watching them), and it had no issue with him.

So they’re good with the dogs as long as the dogs don’t chase them (at least so far).

Now I need help with the other side of the spectrum.
We have three dogs —
Smigeon is a JRT x APBT, has never been exposed to kittens in her life, and chased the first kitten to come out of the room. But she was the dog that laid on the couch while they were roaming our living room – so I believe she’s getting a little better (at least until one of them gets too close, then I’m sure she’ll have an issue). She’s full terrier, so obviously these little animals running around is torturing her – but she has paid absolutely no mind to our two adult cats. She doesn’t sniff them when they use her as a petting post, she doesn’t even acknowledge that they exist much more than a passing glance.
CC is a Siberian Husky. She was exposed to kittens at the home we obtained her from, but only through a chain-link fence. She was the second dog to get face-to-face with the kittens (besides the "nose touches" that occurred with our third dog), and – as is expected with her breed – wanted to eat them, or at least wanted to play for a while before eating them. She tends to play with her live food before killing it – proven by the fact she played with a tame white mouse for however long tossing it up in the air before we got to her/it. She’s absolutely fantastic with our two adult cats, though! She’s never had an issue past her first couple of encounters with them – at which point they would strike out with their claws and she’d lose interest. She doesn’t go after them currently, and she hasn’t in the past three years we’ve had her. The most she does is sniff them when they come inside from the great wilderness of our front yard and are covered in snow (and when they come out of the kitchen after eating). Otherwise she ignores them. She even cuddles with them on occasion.
Darnell, who’s been with us since August ’09, looks to be most similar in appearance and temperament to an Akbash or a Kuvasz, and loves to groom our adult cats when they’re waiting to be let outside. He sniffs them when he’s around and they come in, and sniffs them when they use him as a petting post – but he doesn’t bother them otherwise. He’s fine with our adults. He was the first to touch the kittens (nose-touches), and he’s the only dog that stands/sits next to the gate watching them like a hawk when the office door is open. He usually takes to lying near the door as well when he’s napping and at night. This morning one of the kittens had jumped up on top of the gate and he was sniffing it, and then went to watching the other three kittens that were debating jumping on top of the gate – but he ignored it while it was there after sniffing. Then the kitten jumped off the gate and ran when he went to sniff it again – so naturally he chased it under the corner stand and tried to find it. When I was holding the kitten, he would sniff it and watch but be fine otherwise. When the kitten was on the ground he would sniff it and watch. But as soon as the kitten moved his ears perked up higher than previously and his sniffing got a little rougher.

All in all – they’re not so good with kittens!
This is the first step to them being exposed without a baby gate in the way. I’m not sure of what step to take next (do one dog v. all kittens sessions more frequently until they’re used to them fully, then introduce a second dog?), if there’s a method that would work best for the dogs as well as the kittens (I’d prefer not to have them hate dogs by the end of this…), etc.
I’ve never had to socialize my dogs to kittens, only calm adult cats that were already used to dogs – so I’m not entirely sure of how things might be done differently.

Thanks for all the help I can get!
Thank you for the replies so far!!

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3 Responses to “Second try: socializing dogs to kittens…?”

  1. Reba says:

    what i did was bring my dog in and hold him then i would let my cat out of his cage and put them up close. My cat was a little scared at first but soon he just became friends with my dog. They share food sleep together and play together now. Hope this information was useful for you.

  2. UHave2BeKiddingMe- HO HO HO says:

    I saw when you posted this earlier and honestly said to myself that I would not have kittens in the house.

    Darnells behavior concerns me because of an experience my sister had with one of her dogs. She got a kitten (had adult cats already) and told me how much her big dog LOVED the kitten. He would follow it, stare at it, and basically obsess over it. Then one night she ran out to do an errand and came home to a dead kitten. She had mistaken the obsession for love when it was prey drive. The watching the kittens like a hawk is concerning to me.

    Smigeon just has too much genetic hardwiring for me to ever trust him with a kitten. I think her failure to acknowledge the cats you have is not a good thing either.

    Your Siberian is the least concerning. I have had six Siberians, only two I raised from puppies, the other came to me as adults and none with known backgrouds- they were picked up wandering and never claimed. I do not remember any of the adults coming to me when I had a kitten in the house, the cats were all adults,, and I never had any issues.

    I can tell you that with my large Pomeranian I would never trust her with a kitten. She is great with the adult kitties, but her pray drive is just too intense.

    If I were going to introduce her to kittens I would get a professional in to advise me and would hope it would involve an e collar so that the dog would know very quickly the kitten was off limits. It would not be something I would do on my own.

    If that was not an option then I would keep the kittens in another part of the house until they were bigger.

  3. --Khayos-- says:

    The only advice I have is reward the calm behavior around the cats. Calm or ignoring. Redirect when they start to show any interest in them and don’t leave them alone unsupervised.

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