Border collie obsessed with and afraid(?) of new kitten… Advice?? (x-posted to r/dogs and r/bordercollies)

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/9t5k6x/border_collie_obsessed_with_and_afraid_of_new/

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Hi all! I have a two year old female border collie and just adopted a nine week old kitten. My dog lived in fear of my senior cat in the four months or so that they lived together because he had made it very clear he did not want her there and would even taunt her sometimes. She hid under the table and, after we had moved out of my parent's house and my mom would take her back to the house, she became incredibly obsessive about it, pacing, hiding under the table, looking around with paranoia even when we showed her that he was in the basement/another room and the door was closed. I had attempted to introduce them properly at the beginning, but my parents expedited it in the worst way and she lived in fear of him from then on. She never made a move to bite or attack him WHATSOEVER, she was just terrified of him.

Fast forward to now, we have a very loveable, confident kitten. We have had him in a separate room for the past two days, allowing them to smell each other by trading a blanket between them each night. They could smell each other and interact through the closed door. Last night, we decided to introduce them through a screen window. My dog was doing the border collie stare and was a bit agitated, but she did not seem afraid. She didn't lunge at the screen at all but was definitely hyper-focused.

This evening we had her on a very short leash and let the kitten out to meet her. To my complete surprise, the kitten immediately went up to her and started sniffing her and rubbing against her and just saying hi. She was extremely tense and even tried to back away from the kitten. I was petting her and offering her hotdog and she was eating it, but he got right in her face and she "nipped" at him. Quotes because she didn't touch teeth to skin. We also tried introducing them with her in the kennel and him loose, but she's hyper aware of his every movement and whips around to watch him when he runs and darts about. Her tail was wagging a lot even though nothing said "play" about her posture. We again tried with him in his carrier and her free. She actually lunged at him twice, but again, not a bite so much as a… I don't know really? Her behavior reminds me of a dog who finds a bug or a snake, wary but curious. I know that if this behavior does not improve, we will be forced to return the cat to the shelter, but I'd like to try to keep him as he really is the perfect cat! Confident and spunky but does have an off switch too.

Any ideas on how to introduce them?? I can't tell if she's fearful, is prey-driven (surprising for a herding breed??), or is trying to herd him or some combination of those. Please help reddit!!

https://i.imgur.com/2JEO1Nk.jpg

Edit: he stuck his paw in her kennel and she lunged for it. Obviously not a good sign, but I know some people have luck training even high prey drive dogs to coexist with a cat. I also don't understand if this is prey drive since she is a border collie??!! Obviously not mutually exclusive, but she shows zero interest in smaller dogs or birds or squirrels or etc. She did react this same way when I introduced her to my friend's pet rats though.

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