GSD/Collie stares at cats...
Hello all! I apologize in advance if this is long. My husband and I adopted a 3 year old german shepherd/collie mix about a week ago. I've always loved GSDs, though I've never owned one. My husband has lived with two german shepherds before (his brothers owned them). What drew us to this dog, Apollo, was his sweet temperament. He's very gentle and has been awesome with our 3 year old daughter so far. I watch them interact and he has mouthed her but it is clearly playful. He's also great with our 11 year old blue heeler; she's a grumpy old lady and he submits to her without question when she raises her lips and gives him a warning nip. He's a very smart, calm, sweet dog and we are already falling in love with him.
I do have a concern about the cats though. I'll start off with the fact that he has shown ZERO "aggression" toward them. He's been hissed at and swatted at and he definitely dislikes it and backs away. When the cats get right next to him (either walking by or they've sniffed nose to nose a few times) he avoids eye contact and puts his ears back. The thing that is weirding me out is the way that he watches them. It's an alert sort of stare, and he also is clearly looking for them when he walks through the house, and at first he tried to chase them when they ran to hide from him. Close up, he seems scared of them, but from a distance her very intently tracks them. My guess is he's never been around cats so I'm sure a large part of it is curiosity. I know he had a prey drive, so when he is staring or getting too interested we say leave it in conjunction with using a spray bottle full of water. This has helped him improve a ton. But the stare that he does and the amount of interest he is showing still creeps me out!
I made the mistake of reading too much on the Internet and ran across some stories where a german shepherd had killed the owners cat. My cats are my babies and I would lose it if he ever hurt them. I do wonder if I'm over reacting though, since he's shown no aggression at all. Any thoughts on this? Are we training him correctly in regards to the cats? He's an awesome dog all around and I know it's only been a week but I just worry a bit. I also wonder if some of it is the collie in him, my parents had a border collie that would follow one of their cats everywhere and it was sort of his "job." It was never an aggressive thing. We're still getting to know him though, so I guess I'm just having a hard time deciding what intentions his curiosity has.
We also crate him anytime we're gone so he is never truly alone with the cats. We let him chase squirrels in the yard and try to give him a lot of playtime with toys so he can direct his "drive" elsewhere. Thanks in advance for any advice!