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We recently picked up a medium to large 5-year-old Rottweiler, and she is very well behaved. Rarely barks, loves to cuddle, quiet, timid, knows release, heel, and sit. When handing her treats she gently takes it from your hand. She isn't protective of toys or food either. She also walks next to me when I take her for walks.

She loves to play with my Jack Russel who is a little over one year old, and she "tolerates" my male cat. When it comes to my female Blue Russian cat though, she will stare. and stare. and stare. My Rottweiler could be laying on the bed, and the cat in the other room. She will sit on the bed for literally hours and not move. Just staring at the cat. She will not react to commands. The only way to break the focus is to close the door or literally grab her and pull her closer to us.

When both animals are near each other, be it on the bed or elsewhere in the house, she will tower over the cat and look down just staring at her. In this case though her focus breaks when the cat meows. Then she'll move, lay down, and just whine. We aren't sure if this is her looking for the alpha female or what.

Edit: last night she stood over my cat while staring at her, but her tail was wagging. Once my cat meowed, she laid down and whined for a short period. She does not show any sign of aggression. It seems more like she wants to sniff the cat, but the cat doesnt let her so she simply stares at her.

  • From your description it's hard to guess what's going on in her head. Can you describe her body language while staring at your cat? For example: does she start panting or shaking? Does she pull her mouth into something resembling a smile or does she get more wrinkles in her face? Is her tail up or down, wagging or not and if yes, wagging how fast? Do the hairs on her neck stand up? Does she sit staight on both legs or leaning sideways on one leg? What position are her ears in? And anything else you notice... Maybe even a photo would help. – Elmy May 1 at 20:18
  • I'll try to take a photo next time I see it, but nothing happens. She literally just lays there motionless while dangling her front paws off the end of the bed. No wagging of the tail, no smile, no hairs standing up, nothing. When she is towering over the cat it's the same thing, but she is standing over the cat and looking down. Her tail, ears, and hair are all in a relaxed positioned. – Xiodrade May 1 at 20:21
  • This sounds like the behavior exhibited by my roommate's mastiff toward my kitten; my roommate fostered the kitten with several others, and the mastiff liked to watch them, with the one I adopted being her "favorite." It's a similar weird staring. Can you edit in any other behavior you've observed from your rottie that could help indicate if it's benign (relaxed but fascinated), or potentially risky (signs of tension)? – Allison C May 2 at 13:42
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    Hi Allison, I just edited my answer with her behavior from last night. – Xiodrade May 2 at 13:48
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Your dog wants to play with the cat. Desperately. To the point of whining. Your cat, as you’ve observed, wants nothing to do with the dog. Your biggest clue to your dog’s intent is how your cat is reacting. If the cat knew your dog wanted to attack, she wouldn’t rest in an accessible place. And she’d be more aggressive.

Best bet is to train the dog to ignore the cat.

I once had a female Russian Blue, too. A female black lab desperately wanted to be friends. The cat wouldn’t have it. So we trained the dog to ignore the cat. You could tell the dog was really sad about being rejected and sometimes when she walked by the cat, she’d pause for a moment, look over briefly as if she was deciding whether or not to say hello, give off a feeling of sadness - maybe even let out a small sigh, and keep walking. She never got over it completely but she learned to accept it. We got her to focus on treats, smiles, and hugs from the family instead.

  • The OPs story looks for me like the dog assumes/wishes the cat is a dog too, until the cat meows and the dog hears it is not. I overlooked a similiar behavior as a friends dog have seen an other dog in the television. It puzzled the dog, to see but not to smell and it wants to get a decision, if this is a dog or not. – Allerleirauh Jun 4 at 20:06
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It sounds like a possible dominance issue. If you've ever seen two dogs fight, there's a split moment before the fight where they are very still and intensely focused on each other. In dogs, hovering over something is an act of dominance. Does the rottie ever lunge? The most important issue here is safety. If there is no lunging, then it's mild dominance, and clicker training can be beneficial.

You stand by miss Rottie, or sit, with a bag of her favorite treats. You let her stare at kitty. The second she breaks focus, you click the clicker, and give her a treat. You say she can sit for hours sometimes, so she may need "help" breaking her focus the first few times until she realizes what you are doing. This is better with two people.

There is a chance that this behavior is not a dominance issue, but it's definately better to be safe rather than sorry.

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