This week I reach out to our LABfan community to help me identify an issue that we are having with Saban. He started displaying this paralyzed pointing fixation on our cat, Savannah.

He did not do this the first couple of weeks when we were fostering him. Soon after we adopted him he started displaying this behavior. One time imparticular he made a lunge for her. If we are not in the room and he sees her he will just stare at her then begin to bark. That is usually when I am coming downstairs to see what is going on.

You can see from the videos that I can poke him, clap, snap my fingers and just about anything to make him snap out of it. It usually takes me physically moving him and taking him into the other room.

I am guessing it is some sort of drive that he has. When we go on the trails he seems exceedingly more interested in the small game than Brody and immediately perks up if he picks up a scent from one.

I need your help in identifying this behavior as well as what I can do to help break him of it.

HELP! I want my Labrador to stop acting like the creepy step brother. LOL

11 Responses

  1. John

    “But Daddy, if I look away first, the cat wins…”

    It looks like a fairly normal pointing behavior in Part 3. The training requires they stay on point until released or told to flush the game. In all of them he IS aware of you. Ears twitch, eyes move slightly, so it can’t be CATatonia (lol). My 4 yr old lab has an intense curiosity about cats… they never let him get close enough to make friends so now he barks at them and chases them.

    • admin

      Thanks John for your feedback. Is this a possible instinctive behavior or something that has to be trained.

      • John

        After generations of line breeding it is possible that it is very much instictive. Might there have been some early training for him before he came to live with you? I’ve seen many variations in the strength of certain traits depending on bloodline… yours may just have the best possible genetic combination for naturally pointing. (Or he’s just fixated on the cat… wants to lick him furless but knows neither the cat or you would allow it so just resigns himself to stare…

        (It might also be that damn cat trying to hypnotise him too… lol)

  2. Ann M

    Saban is gorgeous….I know not at all, why she is pointing…she is though….my Lab, Gretzky, who is a Service Dog…will point at Crows and Sheep,rarely cats,sometimes bunnies and spirrels, but, never chases and stops pointing almost instantly if I tell him to. Does she lose interest in awhile or does she stay pointing? Saban is intent, yet she is well aware of you. What happens if you move Savanah?

  3. Danielle Pellicci

    Rule Number 1:

    Control the dog control the situation (WITH ANY BEHAVIOR)…. This is a natural behavior that has been permitted – clearly, in his mind b/c you have done video him doing it … he has done it repeatedly and it has reaped himself great benefit = he enjoys it.

    I suggest using baby gates and/or preferably a crate to separate the dog from the cat whenever you are not present (REASON = If the dog does this when you are not there he is SELF-rewarded for the behavior and it will only get worse – not better).

    USE a LEASH, YES – a leash in the house! If you can not control the dog you can not control the situation therefore the behavior pattern can not be broken , re-directed, and ultimately remedied. (BTW … just grabbing his collar *or worse yet yelling* will most likely stimulate the dog will not teach him a new behavior).

    Have some yummy treat ready when he is permitted access to the area where the cat is. LEASH ON.

    As soon as you see the 1st GLIMMER of the behavior about to escalate – pop his leash with just enough pressure to re-direct his attention for a split second to you. At that split second, PROMPTLY allow him to sniff the treat you have at the ready. … then ask a known GOOD behavior such as “SIT” … reward.

    What we are doing here is the 1st step of re-association = I see the cat = I SIT = I get a treat.

    (BTW – NOT a “boring” treat your dog gets every day either – this needs to be a high value motivator – like a cut up hot dog … a special treat he only gets when working on the behavior re-direction).

    This wont be fixed over night. You will need to be dedicated to have success at this or any behavior modification program. Keeping an honest diary of your process and how much time and commitment you put in to your dog’s training will help you see when there are successes and failures and documented reasons why.

    Beautiful Labrador – he is in good shape and looks very much loved … He would give you his “All” I am sure – do the same and make training part of his daily routine you guys will success and Kitty/dog family will be a success!!! GOOD LUCK!

    PS – John (above) … why would you just assume this dog has …. do you know what that is? If you can tell me this dogs COI% I’d be quite impressed!

  4. Danielle Pellicci

    Meant to write…. PS – John (above) … why would you just assume this dog has “Generations of “Line Breeding” ha ha 😉

  5. Jeanette Torelli

    My lab displays this behavior also, in our case the cat is older and here first. Maybe it’s because we didn’t introduce them when Nutmeg first came home (they are both females does that make a difference?).
    I will attempt the re-training suggested and see how we go 🙂

    Thank you