We adopted Hamish in October 2017. He is an 11.5yr old Westie who belonged to a friend’s mother who sadly passed away after illness. Hamish arrived via the sleeper from Portsmouth on the 16th of October. It was love at first sight for us. He is a wonderful dog who is chilled out, very sociable with other dogs and people. The only problem we had was Hamish went berserk when he saw our 14yr old cat Minstrel, barking and straining to chase her. He also refused to come back to us if he got the scent of a rabbit, deer, etc.
After several weeks Hamish’s behaviour with Minstrel was showing no signs of improvement and she was living upstairs while he was downstairs with neither of them meeting. We called Mike, who came to see us on the 24th of November. Mike spent over 4 hrs with us, covering basic commands and explaining how to reward good behaviour with positivity and rewards. We had training to do daily, and we had to have Hamish in a calm state when introduced to Minstrel, then if he stayed calm he was rewarded, if he didn’t he was removed from the situation and returned when calm. Mike sent us a booklet customised to Hamish, with a programme of training to follow. Several months followed, and his obedience improved dramatically. One friend commented that he really looked when his name was mentioned and he did what he was asked. It is a pleasure walking Hamish who will still look at a rabbit but will not chase it and comes when called.
Mike returned on 17th of January 2018 and could see the improvements in Hamish, although better with Minstrel there was more work to be done, he gave us different tasks to do which we did, some days Hamish was quite good with Minstrel while other days it was almost like going back to the beginning, however as Mike said keep going and eventually it would work.
On the 6th of March 2018, we had a breakthrough. Minstrel came into the living room, Hamish was told to go into his bed, which he did, and to lie down, which he did. He was a bit agitated, but did not come out of his bed. Minstrel stayed on the couch for a couple of hours during this time. After whining a few times, Hamish went to sleep! We have now done this every evening and Hamish is steadily getting less interested in Minstrel. He doesn’t whine and actually looks away from her.
We are confident eventually they will tolerate each other safely. We can’t thank Mike enough – he has a sensible approach to dog behaviour and, most importantly, teaches the owners how to behave with their dog.
Jane & John N.